Gillette, Wyoming is situated between the Big Horn Mountains to the west and the Black Hills to the east, it sits in the Powder River Basin and has a semi-arid climate. Wyoming is famous for its beautiful natural scenery, and residents who want to add to it can plant trees that will thrive in the area. This climate makes it difficult to grow trees due to the relatively low amount of moisture we get each year and the bone chilling cold and wind we have each winter. There are a few tricks to
Select the trees that suit the USDA Hardiness Zone
Gillette is in the USDA Hardiness Zone Number four. This means it is suitable for trees that can withstand temperatures averaging -20 degrees F to -30 degrees F in the winter. Other factors such as local variations in moisture, winds and soil will affect the viability of individual plants. Here are 10 trees that should do well in Gillette.
Start with a Colorful Tree
Crab Apples (Malus x) are deciduous, ornamental trees that make a great show of pink, red or white flowers in early to mid-spring. They are a four-season tree which means they are interesting all year around. The leaves are an attractive reddish purple color. Crab Apples grow 15 – 25 feet tall with a spread of 30 – 40 feet at maturity and produce small, yellow or red edible fruits that are sour but great for jelly.
Plant your own Forest
Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) will grow well in Gillette and will naturally form a grove if the suckers are not regularly pruned. It grows to 25 feet with a spread of 15 feet. It is not the best tree for a formal garden, but wonderful for attracting wildlife. It makes a good windbreak and adds foliage and shade to low-maintenance areas.
Add some European Green
Swiss Mountain Pine (Pinus mugo) is native to the mountains of southern and central Europe. It grows to about 15 – 25 feet with a spread of 15 – 25 feet, and the needles are a beautiful dark green color. It grows quickly and needs to be watched or it will overgrow small areas. It does well in urban settings.
Plant a Tree for the Next Millennium
Bristlecone Pine (Pinus aristata) is native to the Southwestern United States mountain areas. It grows to about 20 – 40 feet with a spread of 10 – 20 feet. It is a slow growing tree that will live in poor, rocky, dry soil and requires little water. It is the oldest living tree in the world and needs full sunlight. It should not be planted near aggressive plants. If it is allowed to grow, it will outlive generations of people.
Include a Rocky Mountain Native
Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum) is native to the region and will grow almost anywhere around Gillette to 60 – 80 feet with a spread of 25 – 30 feet although it does hold the record for the tallest pine tree at 268.35 feet. It makes good shelter belts and tolerates drought. It likes well-drained soil the best and requires ample sunlight as it doesn’t tolerate shade. It can even grow in bare rocks because it’s roots seek cracks and crevices. It produces very ornamental needles and cones.
Enjoy the Silver Presence
White Fir (Abies concolor) has blueish-white needles that make a beautiful show. It is native to the Central Rocky Mountains and grows to 50 feet with a spread of 25 feet. It has the attractive pyramidal shape and retains more of its lower foliage when growing on moist sites. The White Fir can live for more than 300 years. It should be planted in a partially shaded area in sandy soul on slightly raised ground.
Add a Little Purple to the Green
Canada Red Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana ‘Shubert’) is native to the northern United States and Canada. It is a welcome addition to any garden because of its dark maroon leaves. It grows to 25 – 30 feet with a spread of about 15 – 20 feet and needs to be regularly trimmed to keep its shape. It is a fast growing tree that produces white flowers in the spring.
Try a Different Fall Color
Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) is found all over the United States. It grows to 50 feet with a spread of about 40 feet and turns a bright yellow color in the fall. It is a strong tree that will grow almost anywhere, but it shouldn’t be planted under power lines.
Add some Fruit to the Mix
Moorpark Apricot (Prunus armeniaca) will give a good crop of fruit that is suitable for eating fresh, drying or canning. It is a fast growing tree to about 20 feet with a spread of 15 – 20 feet, and the large yellow apricots have a sweet flavor. The tree is self-fertile and self-pollinating. It is recommended to plant two trees for a better fruit crop.
Go for the Gold
Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) is an excellent urban tree that gives a wondrous golden red color in the fall. It is considered one of the most beautiful of all fall trees. It can adapt to wet or dry soil and the leaves are a pale green in the summer. It will grow to 50 – 70 feet with a spread of 25 feet. If it grows near a swamp or pond, it will develop Cypress knees.
Image Courtesy of Megan Leetz