What can replace my beloved white bark birch trees?
May 14, 2016 8:18 PM   Subscribe

We have a line of 5 birch trees along our driveway. They are beautiful all year long, screening the neighbor's house from our living room view in the summer, dropping leaves and letting in more light in the winter, but still a lattice of branches to screen a bit. They are all dead or dying. Bronze boring beetles. Nothing can be done. According to more than one expert, "Birches are no longer a sustainable species in our part of the world." What can we plant instead?

Our Pacific Northwest climate is modified Mediterranean; getting warmer and dryer as the years pass. We don't want a fence, we don't want a hedge. We want a line of trees, preferably, although we're open to other plants. We need something deciduous, that grows fairly quickly, and that doesn't demand a lot of complicated pruning. I'm so sad about my birches, so ignorant of trees in general, and so overwhelmed with choices. What would you plant next to our driveway?
posted by kestralwing to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Persian parrotia? Bald cypress? Larch? I'd consider them. Talk to a reputable local nursery. Think about easy fruit trees as an option, too.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 9:13 PM on May 14, 2016

If you're getting warmer, perhaps Chinese Pistache.
posted by dws at 9:32 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

You need some European Hornbeams. They are in the birch family, but hardier, and they look stunning when planted in a row.
posted by Ostara at 10:17 PM on May 14, 2016

I'm a fan of the Sunburst Honeylocust.
posted by jon1270 at 3:25 AM on May 15, 2016

Poplars would seem to tick all the boxes.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:57 AM on May 15, 2016

My first thought was Aspens because, like your white birches, they don't grow large. I don't know if your climate is cool enough, though. They also tend to propagate into a copse which you might or might not like.

Here in New England, dogwoods were often used as you describe, but they have also succumed to disease. Other flowering fruit trees, like crabapples, are used now.

I'd ask my local nurseryman what he recommends.
posted by SemiSalt at 9:15 AM on May 15, 2016

This sounds like a job for PODOCARPUS!!

They are an evergreen conifer that can look like a tree (full and bushy or pruned like a giant bonsai - the tufts of green remind me of Dr Seuss illustrations, for years I called them "Dr Seuss" trees.)

Some types grow really really fast. Some types are trimmed into hedges, others can become striking mid-sized or truly majestic tall trees. Green all year-round.

Talk to an expert to find the right type. They have a lot of personality and will provide shade and beauty. Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 9:35 AM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Vine maples.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:59 PM on May 15, 2016

I have a Red Emperor maple next to my driveway, screening the view of the neighbors, and it's pleasant year 'round. I love my vine maples, in part because they're native to our area, but admit they're less interesting in the winter than the Red Emperor is.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:05 PM on May 15, 2016

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