Trees for cardinals

Asked April 4, 2018, 10:56 AM EDT

Hi I just moved to Glencoe and want to plant some trees and or arborvitae in my back yard to attract cardinals and also give a bit of a sound barrier from the busy street on the other side of my fence. I would love to know the fastest growing trees, too. Also, I am looking to plant some bushes, evergreen or not, along my driveway to act as a wind barrier/ snow drift stopper as the wind blows and drifts in my driveway. Any ideas? I did call and leave a message. Sorry to bug you twice. I am a member of the Arb Tracy Hart

McLeod County Minnesota

1 Response

Thank you for the question. Since cardinals do not migrate, providing food, water, and shelter should invite them into your property and if they find your yard attractive, you could have a cardinal family live in your yard for many years. Cardinals, like most birds, prefer their home surroundings to have a mixture of evergreen and deciduous trees in the area. They'll often nest in shrubs or thickets that face an open lawn. Here's more information on attracting then to your space:
I will provide some links to different plant options and you can research those that appeal to you. Be sure to match your soil type and drainage, and light exposure to the plants you choose for successful growth in the years ahead. Remember to plant correctly and provide extra water and care during the first year or two of establishment. Planting lower growing evergreens at the base of the arborvitae might be a nice option to screen from the street and the same evergreen shrubs could be used along your driveway if your growing conditions are good for evergreens. Here's a link to evergreen plant options and growing information: Remember, growth speed is a relative concept. All plants grow faster and better under good conditions. Even a so called "fast growing tree" will grow slowly if conditions aren't good. Regardless, note that most evergreen trees and shrubs are classified as slow to medium growers.
A deciduous shrub which would look lovely against an evergreen backdrop in the winter are some of the red-twigged dogwoods. The cardinal variety, in particular, has a vibrant red color.
Alternatives to arborvitae hedges might be: Ninebark, Nannyberry, American highbush cranberry, Viburnum. This link provides lots of information on selecting, growing trees, shrubs and vines:

Thank you for contacting Extension.