The Bay State, Massachusetts, is renowned for the majestic American Elm, which once soared to towering heights exceeding 100 feet before the onslaught of Dutch Elm Disease. Despite this challenge, the tree perseveres due to its innate hardiness, enduring frigid temperatures as low as -44°F. With its expansive canopy and resilience to changing sunlight, the American Elm remains a symbol of strength throughout Eastern North America. However, Massachusetts offers a diverse array of tree options for discerning planters, given its compact size, varied terrain, and seasonal climate fluctuations. Growers in Massachusetts must consider climate, soil type, precipitation, irrigation needs, growing zones, and weather resilience when selecting trees for planting.
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:
A state that without doubt deserves its millions of residents, Massachusetts is continuing to attract new inhabitants from other parts of the United States. Although a boon for the local economy, new infrastructure can be invasive and annoying. Solutions exist for prying eyes and sound-producing highways. Trees that are cultivated to form protective barriers, better known as ‘privacy trees’ can be planted to afford the Massachusetts yard the solitude and peace it deserves.
Although there are many privacy trees the Massachusetts planter may plant, none is as fitting as the Willow Hybrid. The Willow Hybrid grow quickly, at upwards of 6 feet a year, and provides fast-growing privacy. Unlike many privacy tree species, the Willow Hybrid is not an evergreen but a subset of the willow, providing a unique barrier against intrusions of every kind. The Willow Hybrid is not the only option to choose from in Massachusetts. Alternatively, consider the Thuja Green Giant or Juniper ‘Witchita Blue’.
Massachusetts’ climate is characterized as humid continental. Hot summers and cold winters typify this state, with distinct spring and fall seasons as well. As such, temperatures range widely. The summer average high is 82°F and the average low is 16°F, but extremes exist on both ends. The record high was set in 1911 at 104°F and the record low was set in 1934 at -18°F. Temperatures vary across the state, too. The Atlantic Ocean and Bay area have a mitigating effect on extreme temperatures, meaning milder winters and cooler summers. In the west, the Berkshire Mountains often cool both seasons significantly. Central Massachusetts, centering around Worcester, tends to have extremes on both ends.
Most trees require well-drained soil rich with minerals to grow. Paxton soil covers the state of Massachusetts. The dense, deep soil is outstanding in use as a fertilizer, and it has a large capacity for water. Regardless of the property’s location in The Bay 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.
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.
Massachusetts receives even amounts of rain throughout the year, with slightly more falling in the winter. The Bay State receives, on average, 50 inches of rain annually. Rain falls more in the east along the coastline, especially on the Cape. This is due to storms from Atlantic Ocean.
Newly planted trees require consistent and controlled access to water. The use of irrigation can be beneficial in this sense, as it both takes on the manual task and makes the task itself more efficient. When planting new trees in Massachusetts, consider drip or sprinkler systems that can be helpful for ensuring successful growth of your tree. Although Massachusetts receives 50 inches of rain annually, summers can have several dry days in a row, with temperatures over 90°F.
Massachusetts’ growing zones move in lateral bands across the state. 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. In the far southeast of the state, along Cape Cod and the Islands, Massachusetts’ residents can expect temperatures to reach only 0°F. On the other hand, temperatures can drop well below zero, sometimes as low as -25°F, in the Berkshire Mountains to the west. Most of central Massachusetts should expect temperatures to drop only down to -15°F for extended lengths of time.
Massachusetts, like most of the east coast, is prone to Nor’easters and Hurricanes. Typically, the Cape and the Islands receive the brunt of the storm, which has often mellowed by the time it reaches inland areas. Nor’easters hit in the winter, and they often dump feet of snow on the state, sometimes leaving over 30 inches in one storm. Hurricanes hit as well, coming up from the Gulf along the east coast. These are often weaker and cause minor flooding and property damage, though Category 5 hurricanes have hit in the past. Additionally, tornadoes can touch down in the area, too, despite its hilly topography. Although rare, tornadoes are infrequent visitors primarily to central Massachusetts.