American Beech, Fagus grandifolia

Q:  I live on Beech Street and I would like a Beech tree. Will you recommend one for me?

A:  The American Beech, Fagus grandifolia, needs enough room to spread out 40-50 feet. This tree should be planted on large estates and I do not believe your landscape would be able to sufficiently support this grand tree.  In addition, the cold hardiness for this tree is zone 8 and you are in zone 9a. Although the hardiness zone is on the edge, it would be an additional stress for the tree. I would suggest you consider the American Hornbeam, Carpinus caroliniana, which only reaches heights of 20-30 feet with the same spread. Although it is not a true beech tree, it has a common name of Blue Beech because its bark has a bluish hue and the leaves are similar in shape to the American Beech tree. American Hornbeam is slow growing, so it would take some time to grow tall. It also is better suited for our hardiness zone. The American Hornbeam is an under-utilized, native tree perfect for the smaller residential landscapes. It prefers acid soils and the small fruit and buds attract birds and squirrels. The American Hornbeam can grow well in full sun or filtered light.