River Birches: How to Design Your Landscape with Exfoliating Bark!

River Birch

Exfoliating bark that improves winter landscape!
This ornamental tree doesn't need to flower to bring year round beauty to your landscape! Both single-stemmed and multi-stemmed, River Birch trees bring a stunning and unique addition to any landscape. The attractive, naturalistic look of river birch trees' peeling bark and their rapid growth rate makes them a favorite choice for many landscape designs. Better yet, its beautiful, peeling bark only turns deeper and brighter with age! Now is a wonderful time to plant these deciduous trees so you can enjoy their peeling bark in the winter time!

Check  out below to see how a River Birch tree can best fit in your landscape and which kinds that we have here at Bountiful Gardens!

Designing with River Birches
These trees provide an impressive amount of shade when fully leafed out in the summer time. It can be hard to decide where to plant a tree that is going to grow that big, but below are some helpful ways that you can use River Birches in your landscape!

Foundation Trees
A single, large river birch tree planted at the front of a property and set to one side, provides a strong vertical dimension and perspective to a landscape design. Additional river birches mixed with tall and medium-size evergreen shrubs at the side or in the back, create balance in the yard's layout. If you're looking to group them together like in the picture above, they look great in larger landscapes if there are multiple pathways you can line them next to!

Specimen Trees
 Standing alone in the middle of a large expanse of grass or in a bed of perennials, a river birch becomes the focal point. Multi-trunk varieties are particularly beautiful in this setting, offering an array of lines and textures. "Heritage" is great for this because of the papery, peeling bark that shows off all of the trunks colors!

Pair With Color
Pairing River Birches with brightly colored foliage or evergreens will really make your birch's bark stand out, especially in a winter landscape! You can also match them with other plants that have colorful bark, such as Red Twig Dogwoods like in the picture above!

River Birches at Bountiful Gardens
'Little King' Fox Valley (River Birch)

Finally, a Dwarf River Birch!! This is great for smaller spaces and landscapes that want to enjoy the look of a River Birch but just don't have the space for it! Little King is a particularly handsome river birch, prized for its attractive, peeling bark! Pale salmon and a reddish-brown color at first, it exfoliates to reveal a lighter, inner bark. Its bright green leaves deepen to a darker shade as the season progresses, before turning a pale yellow in the fall for added seasonal interest! This is perfect as a specimen plant or in borders, along ponds/streams, and as foundation plantings. 

Betula Nigra 'River Birch'

The regular, native River Birch species! This vigorous, fast growing tree can be trained as either a single trunk or multi-trunk tree. As a single trunk, it develops a pyramidal habit but matures to a more rounded shape. Multi-trunked trees form a more irregular crown, generally considered to be the superior growth habit for its species! Salmon-pink to reddish-brown bark exfoliates to reveal lighter inner bark. 

'Whitespire Senior' Gray Birch (Single Stem)

This cultivator is best known for its upright form, non-exfoliating white bar, and dark green leaves that turn a gorgeous yellow in the fall. Although its bark does not exfoliate, this gray birch is very useful due to its shade tolerance! It can be grouped with needled evergreens so its white trunk stands out against their dark backdrop. Flowering in the spring, this tree produces long, slender catkins which appear before the leaves, creating a beautiful display. In the garden, Whitespire Senior is typically planted in groups so that the narrow 
canopies can better shade the root zone. 

'Heritage' River Birch (Multi Trunk)

This beautiful, multi-branched tree provides striking winter interest, with bar branches and trunk displaying highly textured and colorful, peeling bark! Salmon-cream to brownish at first, it exfoliates to reveal a creamy-white inner bark that is truly beautiful. The diamond-shaped foliage is a bright green color that deepens to dark green as the season progresses, turning a pale yellow color in the fall. This tree is an exception subject for lighting at night. It is versatile, highly heat tolerant and thrives in settings that have high water tables and problematic wet soils. 

Betula Nigra 'Dura Heat' (Single Stem)

Dura Heat is a more heat and drought tolerant form of this species, with superior insect and disease resistance! Its densely pyramidal form with its glossy green leaves that fade to a clear yellow in the fall make for a stunning display. Its winter bark is a pinkish-orange color with prominent exfoliation, adding to the texture that it brings to any landscape. Because of its size, this large tree is great as a focal point, or for shading in your yard!


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