Zelkova serrata


The Zelkova is a wide-spreading, vase-shaped tree with beautiful fall colors and attractive toothed leaves. In the fall, trees usually show red, yellow, orange, and green leaves all at one time.


A close relative of the elm, the Zelkova shares its fast growth but not its disease problems. It is suitable for planting in a lawn. Annual pruning when young is necessary to remove competing branches so the tree can develop a few, strong main branches.


Note that any tree grown in a lawn may develop surface roots unless irrigation is properly managed. Tree roots need both air and water in the root zone. Lawns are frequently overwatered, resulting in water-logged soil with no air in the root zone. Check your tree’s root zone to see if it is water-logged or too dry. The best method is to dig a small hole about 12 inches deep and look at the soil: if it is bone dry, there is not enough water; if it is muddy, there is too much water; if it is moist like a cake, it is just right. Alternatively, you can use an inexpensive moisture meter from your nursery or hardware store and look for a “moist” reading.


Height: 50 to 70 feet
Spread: 50 to 70 feet
Growth Rate: moderate to fast

Irrigation needed: low to medium water
Fall Color: orange / red / yellow / green, all at the same time
Flowers:  inconspicuous
Seeds/Fruit: very small (<1/4-inch) seeds

Planting Distances
Front of green utility box: 8 feet
Building, paving, swimming pool: 20 feet
Fence, underground utilities: 6 feet
Overhead, high voltage lines: 30 feet; note that the Wireless Zelkova is a smaller alternative that can grow under overhead power lines

Zelkova Shade
Zelkova Fall