Q: I want to plan oak trees for shade on my property in Ellis County. I have several choices including Bur, Chinkapin, and Shumard. (Lacebark Elm is another choice) I am not familiar with the specific differences in each of the species to determine which one would be best for my area. R.H., Ellis Co.
A: The native trees on your list will all grow well in your area as well as the rest of north Texas. The lacebark elm is the foreigner on the list. It is from China and the true Chinese elm. Although beautiful when healthy, this tree is highly sensitive to cotton root rot. I learned the hard way designing them into landscape projects in north Dallas. Of the natives you mention, it's a toss up. Bur oak is the fastest growing of the bunch, has huge leaves, lousy yellow fall color and acorns as big as golf balls. Shumard or Texas red oak is the hardest to establish, easiest to kill by over watering but has by far the best fall color of the three. It is an easy to manage tree once established. Chinkapin will be the hardest to find but is a very nice choice with relatively fast growth, weak yellow fall color, interesting light flaky bark and long serrated leaves. Plant them all.