Help with Small Ornamental Tree to Plant Near House!

rengirlApril 18, 2010

I live in a Cape Cod style house and want to plant 2 trees in the corners of the front . Because the roof line starts lower than a traditional 2 story house I am looking for something that will not grow too tall and overwhelm my small home. I would also like something that flowers. Thanks!

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Can you give us maximum height and width in feet or meters you will accept because a lot of the time people ask here for a tree when what they really mean is what kind of shrub can I plant next to my house. If you were here I'd say weeping yaupon or fosters holly. They aren't flowering but that's what azaeleas and abelia and camlilia and all them are for in front. Something that is long term and can be shaped and pruned if necessary, a nice evergreen for year round foundation screening is probably what you want for the corners to frame the house but I could be wrong. Even if those don't grow in NJ, it may give you something similar to look for when you head to the nursery. Pictures also help get people dreaming about what they want to plant in your yard and you'll get lots of suggestions.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 1:27PM
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Do you prefer evergreen, like a Holly (such as Oakleaf Holly) or deciduous (like a Bloodgood Japanese Maple)?

About how close is 'next' to your house? A lot of trees need to be planted a good deal further away than folks originally plan, so you might want a 'Fireglow' Japanese Maple instead of a Bloodgood, for example.

Do you like narrow/columnar trees like a Skyrocket Juniper or Emerald Green Arborvitae, or a somewhat broader-based pyramidal tree (such as Boulevard False Cypress), or do you like the rounded crowns seen with some mature maple trees like sugar maple?

By 'ornamental' do you mean flowers in Spring (e.g.: redbud, dogwood), colorful foliage (e.g.: Thundercloud purple plum, I believe, or some Japanese Maples such as Fireglow or Crimson Queen) or perhaps even peeling bark (e.g.: Paperbark Maple)? I know you mentioned 'that flowers,' but be mindful many plants that are highly ornamental when they flower do so briefly, and aren't nearly so impressive most of the year.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 4:45PM
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Thanks for the responses! From the front my house is like a rectangle missing one long side. The open end forms a parking court and the gutters are about 12 feet high, above the gutters is the roof. The 2 trees I am looking for would be placed near the left and right corners inside the courtyard, about 9 feet from the house. I am not looking for an evergreen, and I would prefer something that flowers. Stewartia has been recommended as it is multi trunked and can be pruned nicely to maintain height, but I am not sure I like this choice. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 1:21PM
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Perhaps a Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonica). There is at least one selection that is more upright growing. I like this tree a lot, and it has done great for me in NJ. Redbuds and dogwoods are certainly nice native, smaller size trees. There are also nonnative forms of both that are similar. I absolutely love Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus), but they are variable from plant to plant in flowering and form. Most are more like large shrubs. There may be some nice crabapple selections that would work for you too, although I can't recommend specifics.....just make sure you buy a disease resistant cultivar that has the flower, shape, and fruit that you like. Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) is a nice small native tree. It flowers (and the flowers smell great!), but it does not cover itself in flowers like some of the other trees menntioned.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 1:38PM
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Dan Staley

Trees should never be purchased with the intent to "prune to maintain height". Right tree for right place. We still don't know what hxw you are looking for.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 1:41PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)


If your spots get alot of sun how about one of the many varieties of crape myrtle?

I can't see too many getting taller than 10 to 15 feet in zone 6 unless you have the PERFECT mini-zone.

Seems the crapes I see around St. Louis are more likely to be "upright bush" shape than "bushy tree" like I'd describe the southern ones.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 7:49PM
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medamana(z7a NJ)

I suggest a native dogwood (Cornus florida). I believe, it is the most beautiful flowering small tree in centrl Jersey area. There are lots of great flowering trees that will do well here. I am suggesting my #1 pick. It is slow-growing. So, research size and suitability for your specific location. I have two native dogwoods at two corners of my house. They are the highlight of our spring blooming season. You can consider Chinese (Kousa) dogwoods as well. Native is more beautiful, in my opinion. Kousa is supposed to have better resistance to fungus diseases; but I would not worry if your location has good air movement and half day or more sunshine.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2010 at 11:35PM
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ginkgo_jenny(6, KY)

Maybe an 'Autumn Brilliance' Serviceberry? I've had one for 5 or 6 years now and love it. It's more of a multi-stemmed large shrub/small tree. It is slow growing, and has pretty white flowers in the spring, berries in the summer, and a nice fall color (not outstanding, but nice).

I'm not one for perfect symmetry, so I would avoid having a "matching set," one on each side of my house. But that's just me. Instead, I would plant a serviceberry diagonally out from one corner, and then something like a redbud, pink dogwood, or a pink flowering crabapple out from the other corner.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 11:35AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

For deciduous, blooming, consider a Kousa dogwood. Just gorgeous when in bloom and they have interesting fruit too.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 1:03PM
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Dan Staley

We still don't know the h x w the OP is looking for. Nor the exposure.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 1:47PM
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