North Dakota, known as the Peace Garden State, celebrates the American Elm as its state tree despite challenges from Dutch Elm disease. This hardy and tall deciduous tree, native to North America, thrives in the state’s Upper Midwest climate, enduring temperatures as low as -42°F. While the American Elm is prevalent in North Dakota, growers have various tree options for planting. Given the state’s geographical diversity, distinct seasons, and expansive size, wise North Dakotan growers should consider climate, soil type, average precipitation, irrigation needs, growing zones, and weather damage when planning.
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:
As property in North Dakota 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 North Dakota, 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 North Dakota, 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.
North Dakota is the 19th largest state, and sits in the center of North America. North Dakota experiences some of the most diverse seasons in the United States, and it is general split into two climatic regions straight down the state. In the east, the state has a humid continental climate with hot, at times humid summers and cold, windy winters. In the west, the state has a semi-arid climate, and both summers and winters are drier, though temperatures remain consistent. Winters can be quite cold, and temperatures drop to as low as -60°F with frequent blizzards. On the other hand, summers remain hot and 120°F temperatures are rare, but possible.
Most trees require well-drained soil rich with minerals to grow. Williams soil covers over 2.2 million North Dakotan acres. Economically valuable, Williams soil is idea for growing all manner of crops, including wheat, barley, and oats. Since grass grows well, much of North Dakota is used as grazing pasture for cattle and livestock. Regardless of the property’s location in The Peace Garden 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.
North Dakota is far from any source of moisture, the closest water body being Lake Superior. As such, precipitation in the form of rain is moderate to low. In the east, rainfall totals on average 22 inches annually. In the drier west, rainfall remains lower at 14 inches annually. Snowfall is heavier in the winter, and it has snowed in North Dakota in every month but July and August. Blizzards, hail, sleet, and snow have all been known to fall, though the totals are low due to low elevations. The northeast and southwest regions of the state see on average 38 inches of snowfall, while central regions of the state may only see 26 inches of snowfall.
In a state with minimal and inconsistent forms of precipitation, such as North Dakota, irrigation systems can be essential for successful tree growth. Newly planted trees require consistent and controlled access to water, as the stress of transplantation can cause damage to the root and transport systems of the tree. Use of a drip or sprinkler irrigation system can be effective at managing water availability for your new trees.
North Dakota is home to four unique growing zones, due in large part to its size and lack of geographical anomalies. 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 southern and eastern areas of the state experience the higher temperature ranges, which can still drop to between -25°F and -30°F for extended periods. Most of the rest of the state falls into zone 3b, where low extended temperatures range from -30°F to -35°F. In the north central region, northwest of Rugby and northeast of Minot, temperatures drop to between -35°F and -40°F.
Tornadoes and blizzards are the most common severe weather systems to affect the North Dakota region. The number of tornadoes varies widely from year to year; in 2013, North Dakota measured 16 tornadoes, in 2012 the state measured 9 tornadoes, and in 2011 the state measured 59 tornadoes. Blizzards are more common, occurring almost annually. Though snow totals can be minimal, heavy winds usually accompany most storms.