The Hawkeye State has a history of strong agricultural practice and wildlife sustainability. The traditional Oak, of which there are dozens of variants in North American, represents this tree. Chosen because it provides shade, shelter and food to both humans and animals alike, the Oak represents a way of life deemed essential to the Iowan. Soon-to-be planters are not relegated to just the Oak, but instead have hundreds of tree varieties perfect for Iowa planting. Sometimes call the American Heartland, Iowa is surrounded by the Mississippi on the east and two rivers, the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers on the west.
Due to its rolling hills, many lakes, and cooler temperatures, the smart Iowan grower will need to consider the following variables; climate, average precipitation, irrigation, soil type, weather damage and growing zones.
Best Trees for Iowa
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:
- Muskogee Crape
Ideal for mildew resistance, fragrant lavender blooms, and fast-growing height.
- Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree
Ideal for providing stunning beauty and shade.
- Cold Hardy Avocado
Ideal for bearing fruit for delicious, edible profits, color, and adaptable qualities.
- Autumn Purple Ash
Ideal for providing unique fall colors, shade, climate tolerance.
Fast Growing Privacy Trees in Iowa
As property in Iowa 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 Iowa, 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 American Holly will also add color and privacy to your yard’s perimeter.
Iowa experiences weather extremes, with hot summers and cold winters. The average temperature is 50°F with the northern regions slightly lower, at 45°F. Winters get quite cold, with temperatures falling as low as -47°F. Snow is frequent in the winter season. Spring brings seasonal severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Summer is hot and humid, with temperatures reaching as high as 118°F, though usually lingering around 100°F.
Most trees require well-drained soil rich with minerals to grow. The state soil of Iowa is called tama, one of the most well-renowned for its agricultural fertility. Deep, rich loam such as tama is ideal for the prairie grasses and crops for which Iowa is known. Regardless of the property’s location in The Hawkeye State, a soon-to-be tree planter can perform a simple test to determine his/her soil type.
The test requires a handful of fresh soil from the layer just below the top. It should be damp but not wet. The tester should hold the soil in the palm of his/her hand and, not surprisingly, squeeze. The squeeze will produce one of three events.
1. The soil will hold its shape, likely forming a snake. If you touch the snake, the soil will maintain its original shape. You have CLAY.
2. The soil will hold its shape, likely forming a snake. If you touch the snake, the soil will collapse. You have LOAM.
3. The soil will fall apart 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.
Iowa receives on average 38 inches of rain per year, but flash floods and rising levels in lakes and rivers are frequent. Thunderstorms occur often in both spring and summer, bringing much of the year’s rain. In the same year, Iowa will receive over 40 inches of snow in winter. Precipitation varies frequently from year to year, with the wettest year bringing in over 74 inches of rain in the period of one season.
In a state with such variations in precipitation, irrigation is essential to the state’s infrastructure. Irrigation can help provide consistent and controlled water access to yards and plants. Rolling hills, multiple bodies of water, and extreme variations in yearly rainfall mean that with the necessities of newly planted trees, irrigation can assist with water availability and growth. New trees need to develop strong roots and irrigation is an important tool in this process. Consider a drip or sprinkler system to ensure successful plant growth.
For a state with such an enormous size, it may seem surprising that Iowa only has three growing zones. 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. Unlike many of its closely related relatives in size, which can have upwards of ten zones, Iowa has relatively few. This is due, in part, to the relative level nature of Iowa. Despite some rolling hills, especially in the north, Iowa contains relatively flat farmland. The state can be split into two main zones: in the south, plants should withstand temperatures down to -20°F and in the north, -25°. There is a small region northeast of Waterloo where temperatures occasionally may drop to -30°F.
Severe thunderstorms hit first, spring and summer bringing over 50 days of thunderstorms, which is above the national average. Thunderstorms lead to tornadoes in late summer, with Iowa averaging at least 37 tornadoes a year. Iowa is one of the most dangerous states to live in due to tornadoes, with recent tornadoes wreaking havoc and death in the region. High winds and strong storms cause fallen power lines and buildings. When planting trees in Iowa, the Iowan planter should consider locations further away from buildings. Trees can also prevent erosions in flash floods.