Lots of preparation, patience and understanding are needed to grow aspen in the urban landscape. Aspen prefer light soils that are acidic and drain well, but these conditions are rarely found in urban areas. Aspen will do best on the north and east sides of buildings. If the soil where an aspen tree is to be planted has a high content of clay, build a berm of sandy loam 18 to 24 inches high. A berm is a mound or wall of earth. The berm should be mulched and several plants should be planted in the bed. Nearly all aspen available for sale are collected, meaning they were dug out of the wild with little of their root system. Even after careful preparation and care, aspen still only have a life expectancy of about 25 years in the home landscape.


Growth Rate

·  The aspen tree is considered a small to medium tree and grows very quickly. As an adult, the aspen tree can grow up to 40 to 70 feet tall with a trunk that is 1 to 2 feet in diameter. While this type of tree grows quickly, the life span is rather short.

When used in urban areas, the aspen tree should be expected to survive no more than 20 years. If the tree is attacked by diseases or insects such as canker disease, fungal disease, rusts or aphids, the life span is shortened even more.

When found in its natural habitat and grown in clones, this tree can live up to 150 years.

Soil & Elevation

·  The aspen tree grows well in a variety of nutrient-rich soils including those derived from basalts, limestones and moist loams. The aspen tree does best at elevations between 6,000 and 10,000 feet. Soils at these elevations are more acidic and well-drained, features that the aspen tree prefers.


·  The aspen tree prefers cooler areas with snowy winters. This tree thrives in areas such as the Rocky Mountains and Great Basin with an average annual temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Because this tree is not tolerant of extremely high temperatures, it is not recommended for the southern region of the United States.

Between the years 1962 and 1984, the state of Arizona experienced a 40 percent drop in aspen acreage. It is suggested that disease, pests, and global warming are all to blame for the recent decline in the amount of aspen trees available. Fires are also a main cause for wiping out entire areas of aspen trees.

Males vs Females

·  How the aspen tree grows varies greatly based on whether it is a male or female tree. The male trees are able to grow at higher altitudes than females. Females, however, can grow in much moister soils and experience a much higher radial growth rate.

How to Grow Aspen Trees

Step 1

Purchase a quaking aspen tree from your local nursery. Few aspens are nursery grown. Most have been taken directly from their original forest. It is best to find a tree near the end of winter, as the tree will be dormant during the transfer to its new home. Planting after the last frost will also give the tree time to establish itself before the next harsh winter

Step 2

Find the permanent location for your tree. Aspen trees need full sunlight to thrive and will not tolerate any shade. An open area is best for aspen. However, as the trunk is thin and somewhat brittle, wind damage may be a problem. Consider planting your trees near a tall fence as a backdrop or on the north or east side of your house. If planting near the house, position the tree at least 10 to 20 feet away from the wall.

Step 3

Prepare the soil. Dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the aspen's root ball. If planting more than one tree, space the holes 10 to 15 feet away from each other. Mix equal parts of compost and native soil. Aspen prefer medium to heavy soil, as long as the soil is well-draining and not clay-like. Aspen can tolerate sandy or silty soil, but water and nutrients will be more readily lost in this type of media. Add two handfuls of granulated fertilizer, high in nitrogen.

Step 4

Fill the hole a quarter of the way with the soil mixture. Water the hole and allow the soil to settle, eliminating any air in the bottom of the hole.

Step 5

Uncover the roots of the tree and spray water over them if they appear dry. Separate the roots so they are not tangled together. Gently place the tree in the hole and fill in the hole with the rest of the soil mixture. Water the area thoroughly and wait for the soil to settle again. Fill in any holes or cover any exposed roots.

Step 6

Spread a layer of mulch 1 to 2 inches thick around the tree, leaving 10 to 15 centimeters around the stem uncovered. Consider laying a soaker hose under the mulch for the first 6 weeks. Aspen need a lot of water in their first weeks. Always allow the soil to dry slightly before watering the tree again. Drooping leaves indicate both underwatering and overwatering. Paying attention to your tree's appearance will tell you how much water is needed. Allow the soil to dry out more between waterings in the winter.

Step 7

Once every early spring, apply a slow-release fertilizer. The fertilizer can be a general, balanced type, but fertilizer high in nitrogen will encourage faster growth.

Step 8

Prune the trees every winter, removing any dead, diseased or crossing limbs. Aspen trees are very susceptible to disease. The best way to prevent tree death from disease is to keep the tree healthy and always remove any limbs that are not vigorous. Aspen trees also need to be kept thin. Branches cannot grow across each other, as this may cut sunlight from other parts of the tree.

Light: Sun

Zones: 2-8

Plant Type: Tree

Plant Height: To 50 feet tall

Plant Width: To 30 feet wide

Landscape Uses: Beds & Borders,Privacy,Slopes

Special Features: Attractive Foliage,Fall Color,Attracts Birds,Drought Tolerant,Tolerates Wet Soil,Easy to Grow

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