Updated Tree Species Recommendations

By Dan Buckler, DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist

Pines are evergreen. So are hollies. And spruces and firs and hemlocks fit the bill. Requests for species recommendations are also evergreen – I’m sure many of you field these requests.

The DNR Urban Forestry program, in consultation with partners on the Wisconsin Urban ForestryBald Cypress Council, has updated its recommended species lists for street and park trees. You can find those four documents below and under “Tree Species Selection” on the DNR urban tree planting resources webpage.

These lists are not exhaustive, and any general list of recommendations has some uncertainty due to the nuanced conditions of specific planting sites. We highly suggest consulting with your local nurseries and other experts who can discuss what is available and provide other recommendations and planting advice. With just a few exceptions, these lists do not include cultivars and varieties, but your local experts can provide that amount of detail.

While there may be some species here that you have not seen in your community, there are others that may already be very well represented. What you won’t see are a few of our most common urban trees across the state: no maples, no honeylocusts, and I’m sorry, all you Fraxinus lovers, no ash trees. Overall, though, we hope that the lists continue to spur interest in diversifying your species palettes.

On the second page of each document is an updated map of cold hardiness zones in Wisconsin, which represent the average minimum temperature a location is expected to experience. The zones may look slightly different than that with which you’re familiar; last year, the USDA and Oregon State University released a new map based on more current data and better factoring in things like elevation and proximity to water bodies. Unsurprisingly, many parts of the state have shifted to a half-zone warmer.


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