The Evergreen State chose, not surprisingly, the Western Hemlock as its state tree. The Western Hemlock is an evergreen coniferous tree, which often stretches towards heights between 165 and 230 feet; although, some specimens have been found exceeding this height, reaching 270 feet tall. Native to the west coast of North American between Sonoma Valley and Alaska, the Western Hemlock is well-distributed throughout the Pacific Northwest, where its existence is a sign of health. Used for its timber, the Western Hemlock is valuable; oftentimes, though, residents will choose to plant the Western Hemlock as an ornamental tree in gardens throughout the region. Despite the appeal of the Western Hemlock, there are hundreds of tree varieties from which to choose for Washington’s tree planters.
Due to its large size, coastal weather, and varied temperatures, the smart Washingtonian grower will need to consider the following:
- Soil Type
- Average Precipitation
- Growing Zones
- Weather Damage
Best Trees for Washington
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:
- Royal Empress Trees
Ideal for providing fast-growing shade, year-round beauty, and drought resistance.
- October Glory Maple
Ideal for continuous color, adaptable growing conditions, and landscaping designs.
- Cold Hardy Avocado
Ideal for bearing fruit for delicious, edible profits, color, and adaptable qualities.
- Muskogee Crape
Ideal for mildew resistance, fragrant lavender blooms, and fast-growing height.
Fast Growing Privacy Trees in Washington
A state that without doubt deserves its millions of residents, Washington 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 Washingtonian yard the solitude and peace it deserves.
Although there are many privacy trees Washington 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 Washington. Alternatively, consider the Thuja Green Giant or Juniper ‘Witchita Blue’.
Washington has two diverse climates, split between the eastern and western regions of the state. In the west, along the Pacific Ocean, the region is characterized by a west coast marine climate or oceanic climate. In the east, a semi-arid climate prevails. This is due, in large part, to the Cascade Mountains which travel down the center of the state. The mountains cause a rain shadow in the east, cooling moisture-laden air before it can cross the mountains peaks. The air then condenses and falls in the western regions of the state. Spring and summer is dry, due to anticyclone systems that spiral air clockwise. In the autumn and winter, a low pressure system takes over, and this brings a wetter season. The highest temperature recorded in Washington is 118°F. The coldest temperature recorded is -48°F in the mountain ranges, though it has not fallen below 0°F in Seattle.
Most trees require well-drained soil rich with minerals to grow. Over 1,000,000 acres of Washington land is covered in Tokul soil. Tokul soils formed from volcanic ash, and are typically a gravelly loam. Valuable for lumber, crop, production, and grazing, the soil is a valuable asset to the region. Regardless of the property’s location in The Evergreen State, a soon-to-be tree planter can perform a simple test to determine his/her soil type.
In order to determine the type of soil in your yard, try this test to give you a basis for finding the best matched trees. For this test, you will need a healthy handful of soil from the layer beneath the topmost piece of soil. The soil should be a little damp, but not recently watered or wet. Simply squeeze the soil sample and one of the following events will occur.
1. You have CLAY if, after opening your hands, the soil maintains its shape, forming a ball. If you touch the sample, it does not fall apart.
2. You have LOAM if, after opening your hands, the soil maintains its shape, forming a ball. If you touch the sample, it falls apart.
3. You have SAND if, after opening your hands, the soil immediately collapses.
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.
Just as the climate systems are divergent in Washington, so too is precipitation. The western areas of the state receive the most rainfall of any of the 48 contiguous states, totaling as much as 160 inches. In the east, however, less than 6 inches of rainfall may fall. The mountain regions see heavy snowfall, sometimes as much as 200 inches. The Olympic and Cascade Mountains are partially responsible for this extreme difference, causing a significant rain shadow in the east.
With such dramatic differences in precipitation throughout the state, irrigation can be an essential tool in appropriately distributing water needs. Newly planted trees require adequate water and sunshine to grow, and an irrigation system, such as a drip or sprinkler system, can be one way of providing consistent and controlled access to water. Search the property for either natural or manmade water systems, and if none exist, consider investing in a simply system to ensure the new tree’s success.
Washington is home to ten 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. The zones generally move from east to west across the state. In the far southwest, temperatures are warmest, rarely dropping below 10°F; however, some small regions may never see temperatures below 25°F. Lower temperature ranges appear along the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, where temperatures may fall anywhere between zones 7b and 5b, between 10°F and -15°F. In the far southeast, temperatures remain relatively high, rarely dropping below 0°F for extended lengths of time. In the northeast portion of the state, temperatures are cooler, sometimes lingering as low as -25°F.
The rainfall differences cause most of the weather damage in the state, with floods and droughts equally affecting the region. These are usually minimal and cause mild to moderate damage. Blizzards can also hit heavily in the mountainous areas of the state. Mount Baker is one of the snowiest places in the world, recording a world record for highest annual snowfall in a single season. In 1999, the mountain accumulated 1,140 inches of snow, or 95 feet. At lower elevations, snow is less severe. Approximately two-thirds of Washington state is forest, and trees of many varieties do well here.