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Red Maple or Elm or Hackberry or Oak?

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From: Mike Switzer
Galesburg, IL
I would like to plant a good hardwood tree in my front yard but am not sure which of the above subject trees to plant. I want a good hard wood with fall colors that is also fairly fast growing. thanks, mike

Extension Message
From: Jay Hayek
Extension Specialist, Forestry
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
Hi Mike:

Tree selection, similar to choosing which color to paint your bedroom walls, is more often than not a matter of personal opinion; however, planting site and soil characteristics need to be carefully considered!

I, for one, believe red maple is way over-planted and would thus avoid this species -- pretty fall colors yes, but way too common in our urban landscape!

Honestly, I'm an oak kind of guy and Illinois is home to 20 native species of oak. Furthermore, I honestly believe oak species are grossly underutilized in landscape and yard settings.

Please take a look at the following websites and explore the various growth characteristics and fall leaf color of commercially available oak species here in the Midwest (depending on your soil pH, you may want to avoid pin oak as pin oak requires acidic, or low pH, soils):

U of I Extension; Tree Selection -

U of I Extension; Selecting Trees for Your Home -

The Morton Arboretum, Tree Selector -

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