“Good fences make good neighbors,” Robert Frost wrote in his famous poem “Mending Wall.” And a beautiful way to build those fences is by landscaping with trees. They provide more than a barrier between you and a neighbor – they provide much-needed shade in our sweltering summers, plus they help the environment and add to the beauty of your property.
Donna Bemis, president of Bemis Tree Farm, located south of Little Rock, is an expert on all things trees whether it is deciduous or evergreen, shade, ornamental or fruit. If it grows, Bemis has the expertise on where to put that tree. She and her family have been in the tree-growing business for 27 years now. With 180 acres of land, she says, “We grow most of what we sell.”
She has some tips for AY readers on finding the right tree for your home or business. For shade, she recommends a good hearty oak tree. They can withstand Arkansas’ heat and the mild (but sometimes icy) winters we have. The magnificent live oak trees in southern Louisiana can’t withstand that little bit of cold we get in the winter. That is why you only see them in Baton Rouge and south. She says if you’re just trying to cover up an area of four or five feet, “get a shrub.” Shrubs can flower, can be fragrant or just remain green. Bemis always looks at the where you want to plant your tree and where your house sits (facing which direction) along with the terrain before she gives advice.
This is one thing she reminds everyone, “Trees need to be watered.” Of course, we are coming out of a very wet winter and spring, but in normal late spring and summer conditions, once the tree has been planted, expect to water “two to three times a week.”
AY Publisher Heather Baker recently approached the Bemises for their advice on what to plant and how many on her property in Roland. They decided on the enormous Green Giant Arborvitae evergreens to provide the privacy the Bakers are looking for. Bemis says, “These trees can grow to 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. They are fast growers. They are perfect for the Bakers’ terrain.” But she cautions anyone looking to plant them. “They cannot grow by fences. Because of the heat from the fences, they will brown out.” They have been placed nine feet apart on the Baker property.
Another option some people consider is the holly tree. Bemis says, “They are fairly tough and can take heat and cold. Plus they grow into each other.” If you’re looking for privacy, this is perfect.