Illinois, also called the Land of Lincoln or The Prairie State, has a long history as representing the microcosm of the United States. The White Oak, one of the dominant hardwoods of North America, is, therefore, fittingly its representative. The White Oak reaches to 450 years old, grows up to 85 feet tall, and spreads its leaves and branches outward in dramatic shapes. The White Oak does not produce its acorns for the first 50 years of growth. Afterwards, the acorns will drop in October, beginning the cycle of American longevity again. Soon-to-be planters in Illinois are free to choose from a variety of trees, as the land is rich for planting.
Due to its large area, diverse temperatures, and multiple climates, the smart Illinois grower will need to consider the following issues; soil type and condition, climate, irrigation, average precipitation, weather damage and growing zones.
Best Trees for Illinois
Read about the specifics for your state in the following sections. If you’re looking for some quick ideas on what to plant, consider the following trees as expert-tested and The Tree Center approved:
- Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree
Ideal for providing stunning beauty and shade.
- Autumn Purple Ash
Ideal for providing unique fall colors, shade, climate tolerance.
- Cold Hardy Avocado
Ideal for bearing fruit for delicious, edible profits, color, and adaptable qualities.
- Tulip Poplar
Ideal for providing fast-growing shade, year-round beauty, and drought resistance.
Fast Growing Privacy Trees in Illinois
As property in Illinois continues to be developed, land owners are searching for trees that will provide privacy from prying neighborly eyes and loud, unwanted noise. There are many fast growing privacy trees in Illinois, which will quickly grow after initial planting to offer your property and family long sought-after privacy.
The Thuja Green Giant, a staple of privacy trees throughout the United States, is a fast-growing pine that will quickly provide a barrier between you and your neighbors. Growing between 3-5 feet a year, the Thuja Green Giant will offer your yard classic French design with minimal hassle. Alternatively, the Leyland Cypress and Nellie Stevens Holly will also add color and privacy to your yard’s perimeter.
Due to its large size, Illinois is typically divided into three sub-regions. First, Chicago and its suburbs make up the northern half of the state. The middle section of the state is the prairie, for which Illinois is known. Finally, the lowest southern portion of Illinois contains the historical sites of Little Egypt and the original state capital, Kaskaskia. Illinois covers two distinct climate zones, a humid continental climate in the north and a humid subtropical climate in the south. Most of Illinois features humid, hot summers and cold winters. In the southernmost portions of the state, residents experience even hotter summers with milder winters. Temperatures often rise above 100°F, with the record standing at 117°F. Winters often drop below freezing, with the record at -37°F.
Most trees require well-drained soil rich with minerals to grow. Illinois features rich agricultural land covered with Drummer soil. Deep, dark, and rich with organic matter, Drummer soil covers more than 1,500,000 acres of Illinois farmland. Regardless of the property’s location in The Prairie State, a soon-to-be tree planter can perform a simple test to determine his/her soil type.
The squeeze test is a tool pedologists (soil scientists) use to determine the type of soil in a given area. Remove the first layer of soil and grab a handful of damp (but not wet) dirt. Then, squeeze the soil in the palm of your hand. When you open your hand, the results will help you to determine your specific type of soil.
1. The squeezed soil holds its squeezed shape. If you poke it, the soil will still hold its squeezed shape. You have CLAY
2. The squeezed soil holds its squeezed shape. However, when you poke it the squeezed soil collapses. Congratulations, you have LOAM.
3. The soil collapses as soon as you open your hands. You have SAND.
Once you know what soil type you have, you can find trees best suited to the dirt’s properties. Loam is the best soil to have, as its unique qualities make it ideal for holding and transferring water to trees.
Precipitation varies across Illinois, primarily due to its large area. Areas in the south receive 48 inches and areas in the north only receive 35 inches. Snowfall is common, but again varied. Chicago and its suburbs can expect about 35 inches of snow a year, whereas only 14 inches of snow should be anticipated in the south. Attracting severe weather, such as summer thunderstorms and tornadoes, Illinois often sees heavy wind and rain.
In a state with such varying amounts of precipitation, it is essential to have strong irrigation systems. Water is essential to newly planted trees, as the stress of transplantation can make rooting and growth difficult. By providing controlled and consistent water access to your tree, you can ensure future success. Water the new tree at its base, two to three times a week. If installing irrigation, such as drip systems or sprinklers, be sure to set them up at least three feet from the tree’s base, as overwatering can rot roots and cause plant stress.
Illinois only contains seven unique growing zones, which is surprising given its large area. A growing zone simply refers to the USDA’s determination of areas where certain plants are most likely to thrive, preferring to focus on minimal temperature ranges in which a plant can survive. The reason Illinois only covers seven zones, and not 11 or 13 like some of its size competitors, is because it is mostly level, residing near the Great Plains. In north-central Illinois, the temperature in higher elevation foothills has receded as low as -30°F, but this is certainly atypical. Most of Illinois only experiences temperatures as low as -20°F, with some areas of the south never dipping below 0°F.
Illinois is a largely populated state, and this is in part why it has seen some of the most devastating severe weather in the U.S. Tornado Alley sends on average 35 tornadoes to the state annually, with some of the worst causing the death of hundreds of residents. Beyond tornadoes, thunderstorms hit the state on average 51 days a year, which is slightly above average. Before planting, consider nearby infrastructure that may be damaged by a tall tree coming down.