Trees have many excellent attributes such as providing shade, shelter for animals, protection from wind, and aesthetics. They have a great value in the landscape, but many times they are planted in areas that are too small for their mature size. The problem is most notably observed under powerlines where the trees have to be trimmed constantly to keep them from interfering with the electric wires. When choosing trees to plant in the landscape, consider their size as they grow. Many smaller ones are available for areas with limited spaces.
In the spring, several trees provide colorful blossoms. The native redbud grows up to 20 feet in height. They have heart-shaped leaves and produce pink to lavender flowers in clusters along the branches and stems. The tree has several cultivars with interesting characteristics including “Alba” with white flowers, “Forest Pansy” ith purple leaves in the spring that turn green during the summer, and ‘Silver Cloud’ with its creamy white variegated splotches.
When we think of magnolias, the Southern Magnolias come to mind. They are large evergreen trees that can be 30 to 40 feet tall. However, some species are smaller. The star magnolia produces white flowers in early spring and grows up to 15 feet. Saucer magnolias reach 20 feet and produce purple to pink to white flowers several inches wide. Sometimes the trees are referred to tulip trees due to the shape and appearance of the blossoms. Late season freezes often occur causing the flowers to turn brown and die. Both have attractive foliage during the growing season and have minimal pest issues.
The common native dogwood produces showy white flowers in mid-spring with some cultivars, such as “Cherokee Chief’”and ‘’Cherokee Brave,’ have pink to rose-colored blooms. They are understory trees in forests and thus require partial shade. If planted in full sun, the trees will suffer from diminished growth and are more susceptible to pests. A non-native relative, the kousa dogwood, can tolerate full sun and produces its blossoms a couple of weeks later.
Two types of fringe trees perform well in our area: the common fringe tree and Chinese fringe tree. Both produce white clusters of feather appearing flowers in April and May and reach a height of 30 feet. They are excellent shade trees for small sites. Use fringe trees where their spring flowers can be appreciated.
Several maples have a low growing growth habit. Japanese maples are the most popular and well known. Hundreds of cultivars are available that come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Some nurseries specialize in the production of these trees solely. They vary in costs form from just a few dollars per tree to over $1,000. Amur maples grow 15 to 25 high with a rounded form. Their leaves have three lobes with the middle lobe being the longest and have yellow to orange fall color. They are excellent for use as specimen trees, on patios and for screening. The paperbark maple grows up to 20 feet with coarsely-toothed trifoliate leaves that turn red to orange in the autumn. Paperbark maples have red-brown bark that exfoliates. Trident maples are somewhat more significant with a mature height of 30 feet. They have small three-lobed leaves that point downward. It has an oval to round shape. In the fall their leaves are bright to orange.
Some species of trees are excellent for areas with limited space. Many choices exist that thrive in our climate and are attractive if given the proper growing conditions.