2 Feature Trees In Front Yard

RyanStormMay 8, 2014

List of qualities I want in my 2 Feature Trees:
-Zone 6-7 i.e. Salt Lake.

-Low Pollen (don't want crazy allergies)

-Non-Invasive (no reproduction, especially no suckers)

-Quality Deciduous Trees (if it does drop a lot of crap then it better have good looking flowers or leafs)

-Not Prone to Weak Wood (and not just from improper planting)

-Not Prone to Borers (earwigs, potato bugs, centipedes and ants, are biggest pests in my current trees)

-Can stand direct sunlight all day.

-Its roots aren't going to damage cement or water line, both of which should be at least 10-15 feet away from base of tree

-They are good looking shade trees, medium to large

-Speed of growth isn't huge factor, but I would like medium to fast spreading braches. Height isn't as big of deal to me as width for shade.
I am planting two feature shade trees. I will put 1 tree on each side of the front yard.They will be about +15 feet away from cement on 2-3 sides, and a good 25 feet from front of house. See my picture for placement.

The Two Trees I think I am going to get that I found at my local Nursery (there is another nursery 20 minutes away that has a huge catalog that grow them on site called Grover Nursery, which is its domain name, you can get suggestions from there if you like, but my choices are from Aposhion Gardens):

1-Red Sunset Maple (Acer Rubrum) for Right Side (near water line) and my "main" tree. Seems to meet my requirements, my only concern is water line will probably be less than 10 feet away, and it is about 3 feet deep. I will probably dig deeper hole than the water line so if roots do shoot horizontal, they will miss the water line.

2-Kwanzan (Prunus Serrulata) for Left Side (near gas line). This side is purely about aesthetics to look out my window and see the colorful flowers. I am not concerned about the gas line. I have tons of rooms for placement, I easily have room to put two if 25 feet apart is minimum.

These two feature trees are big choices, I would like info with the recommendations, but I also would like any info on other different types of trees/shrubs for different purposes around front yard that would go good with the feature tree choices.
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I didn't want to crowd this individual thread, but I also need Small Trees for the Boulevard with similar qualities only difference, I need small trees that are stylish, with no other purpose! This is another hard thing for me, because of the very specific options that I need, I don't want a shrub, but an actual tree. If I don't follow the rules, the city will enforce the law, and cut them down without warning.
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- The list below is of trees I "can't" have on my boulevard, and to be safe, I wanted to stay away from these all together because these are what my city call nuisance trees, and from what I read, for good reason. So I don't really want these options for my 2 feature trees. Big thick roots that damage cement is the last thing I need.

Trees my city doesn't allow on boulevard:
Balm of Gilead
Black Locust
Chinese Date
Gamble Oak
May Day Tree
Russian Olive
Elm Silk Tree
Silver Maple
All species of Birch
All species of Cottonwood
All species of Mulberry
All species of Poplar
All species of Willow
All upright growing conifers
All varieties of bearing fruit or nut trees
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The house faces west. The blue stakes didn't mark the water line, but I know where it is. There is no walk way to porch between the tree beds, I plan on making one with my trees planted, I just like the kidney shaped and wanted to flow traffic between them.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


no tree will invade a pipe.. presuming the pipe is intact .. and God help you.. your gas line is intact ...

i dont understand the water line issue ??? .. i dont see a shore line in the pic.. so i am guessing pond??? .. again ... if it holds water.. its intact.. and no tree is going to have the capability to get thru it ... WAIT... you mean water pipe.. coffee hasnt kicked in yet.. lol.. same as a gas line ...

the usual issue is sewer lines ... built back in the 50's with ceramic tiles and oakum packing ... and those a tree can grow roots into ... but fully sealed PVC should not be an issue ... and shall we presume... there is no septic field issue????

so peeps suggest.. a tree is up to twice as big underground.. as above ... more or less in a flat pancake shape ... your 15 feet isnt much distance.. but per above.. i dont know if its an issue ...

as to pollen.. lack of seed.. and not dropping things... well we all dream about trees like that ...

see link about how to properly plant a tree ... you can NOT dig and plant a tree.. extra deep to avoid a pipe line ... the root flare must be planted.. at ground level ...

dont recall where you are ... you should change the NONE next to your name to a big city name [on your members page] ... but it might be getting a bit late to plant trees ... you might want to spend the summer building your beds... and plant in fall ...

good luck


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 7:03AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Questions (pardon my ignorance since I've never lived out West):

-are you going to be irrigating, or relying only on natural rainfall? In Utah that could limit your choices

-do you know your soil pH? Acer rubrum in particular can be difficult on alkaline soils, which most of your part of the country has. Although if you've seen healthy ones around, they should be OK.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 9:52AM
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1-I just use sprinklers and hoses. I don't have a pond or irrigation.

2- I don't know my dirt. I am close to Salt Lake, the actual lake, but I am not in a sandy area, is mostly just tough rocky dirt. Trees thrive in this area. I am very very near Oquirrh Mountains.

3-The "water line", is the squiggly line to the right side of porch, if you look at my picture I drew.

I got rest blue staked today:

I have electrical and gas on the same line which is seen in picture, which is completely on the opposite of the yard. The rest of my front yard is clear of things like that.

I just have a water line that I am worried about, but that is galvanized metal, I know cause I replaced the plastic part to the sprinklers cause the winter cold cracked the plastic going up, and the guy who does work for everyone in my ward replaced the plastic with matching piping.

I don't have a septic tank, but I have a "sewage line", and that is what I meant. I have no idea where it is at. But this house was built in in 1979, so I don't think it is that ceramic clay crap that is useless. From the inside, I know it is like 4 inch PVC pipe.

Should I have any concerns with water line or sewer lines? I was afraid of planting a tree near one, especially since I assumed it is next to my water line.

I will measure the right side of the yard to give you 100% accurate "spacing", I think I got a solid 6 feet in all directions with nothing. I was afraid because I read:

Red Maple:
15 feet from Buildings and Septic
8 feet from Walkways and Cement
6 feet from under ground pipes, wiring, and fence

^I should be good to go, unless spetic line is where the water pipes are.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 4:15PM
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Honestly, I am more concerned with the roots than my allergies, maintenance and those things that aren't make or break.

My only 2 "main" requirements is:
-NO suckers or "extreme amount of reproduction"
-Solid foundation that doesn't fall, or roots that damage.

From what I read, the Red Maple is a good one, but has shallow roots, I almost don't even want to bother with shallow roots, but it seems like everyone I find, is a good looking, colorful shade tree, but has shallow roots.

I read Chinese Chest Nut is non-invasive with good roots. But it said I had to plant two if I wanted nuts. I kind of like that idea.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 4:21PM
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I was pretty set on a Sunset Maple, but the more I read, the more I don't think it is a good idea, not in my front yard, and not with the spacing on right side.

Right Side Spacing:
-I got 20 feet between my driveway, and the water line, if not counting water line, then I got a good 60 feet to the gas and electrical line. The right side of my house doesn't seem like it can handle the tree.

-The biggest problem is, I only got 25 feet between my sidewalk and my walk way in front of my porch. On left side of house there is no walk way, so maybe 30 feet wide at best in front yard.

So at best, I got a 60 by 30 area if I put it centered in yard, but that defeats the purpose of getting one.

This post was edited by RyanStorm on Fri, May 9, 14 at 0:14

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 12:13AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Try out Bigtooth Maple instead of Red Maple.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bigtooth maple

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 1:30PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

LOVE Bigtooth Maple (Acer grandidentatum).

A better tree than Red Maple, esp for a semi-arid climate with probably alkaline soil (but won't mind extra water from watering the lawn, either, as long as it's not waterlogged).

It's also native in Utah. Looks like the Sugar Maples we have out here in the East, but a bit smaller and more adaptable to heat, drought, etc. Red/orange/yellow in fall.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 2:15PM
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I found new info about the Red Sunset Maple. A University webpage, had it listed as "little invasive potential". Then another university page says do not plant in heavy clay soil, so I believe in regular soil like mine, the roots will get "deep enough" and not cause any serious problems, I don't have think clay soil, I have little to no clay.

I mean my Willow is 10 feet from my house and deck, and no problems. My Aspen Quaky is 4 feet from my cement bed of my shed and is planted on top of cable and power line and no problems. The tree I share with my neighbor is on the boulevard and has barely done any damage to sidewalk, and it isn't a big deal because the city instigated a program a year ago, where they started sanding down sidewalks to be even.

I do like the idea of a smaller tree, like non-large sized Maple. But I need the maximum shade possible for that area.

Question. If you were planting 2 trees, a large and a medium, and you had two spots, a larger area and a smaller area.

Would you plant the large tree in the smaller area? If it would give you maximum shading in an area that really needs it and there would be nothing interfering with it growing tall or spreading.

Or would you plant it on the other side that is slightly larger, that has a couple extra feet on 3 sides, but would shade an area that doesn't need as much shade, because a tree already grown covers part of that area, and that grown tree would hit when the new one spreads out when older, so would interfere with it growing.

The smaller area has a 20 foot circumference, and the larger area has about 25 foot circumference. Do note, the larger area is at the bottom of the little hill, and the smaller area is dead flat. And if the medium tree goes into the smaller area, it might not give the shaded needed.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 7:23PM
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At least around here red maples produce a few bazillion seed and 99% of them sprout. In the lawn it's not an issue since mowing keeps them from surviving, but I do pull out thousands (not exaggerating) each year in the flower beds around the house. I like red maples, but definitely not "no reproduction."

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 10:17AM
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I was afraid of that. Personally I rather clean up a bunch of flowers, berries or nuts than have to pull a bunch of little trees like my Aspen. I am guessing their is no "perfect trees".

I just wanted a big thick tree, so when looking out my living room "2nd story" window I would have a view of a nice tree, which gives me some privacy, and to shade the house in the afternoons to get less light coming in. That is what I wanted for, that is the point of getting one, which I guess I should have said.

I assumed I needed a medium sized tree for this; ike 50 footer. Based off my chart from arborday website, a small 20 footer would be size of my house, and even the Kwanzan I was looking at would be taller than my house.

Based off the advanced search, these our my options:
(variables I plugged in: my zip code, shade tree, all soils, full sun, 35-50 foot, all growths and all spreads), if I clicked flowering trees I would probably have more to pick from.

Options: (not including ones my city doesn't allow or ones I already know I don't want)
Thornless Honeylocust
Red Maple
Lacebark Elm
Northern Catalpa
Sawtooth Oak
Chipkapin Oak
Shumpard Oak
Black Tupelo
October Glory Maple
Red Sunset Maple

The 3 maples are similar, got some varieties of oaks, and a hand full of other types.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 3:57AM
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A couple Utah websites say to grow a Hackberry.

Seems to be an ideal tree to me.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 4:37PM
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Hackberry is a short-lived, fast growing, weed tree here in Texas, Ryan. But native.

I don't know your microclimate, but it's proably hot/dry/alkaline, no ?

In hot/dry/alkaline clmates I would avoid any of the maples, except for big tooth, caddo, paperbark and shantung. I don't know how cold it gets there, either, but that's something to consider.

The only trees that you listed that would be outstanding choices, if my hunch is correct on your microclimate,, would be chinquapin and shumard oak. I'd add bur oak to that (best from seed sources that mimic your conditions).

Keep in mind that nothing is going to grow as fast or as large as they are listed, so a "large tree" is going to act more like a "medium tree".

Other trees that do well in our, at least, hot/dry/alkaline soil is chinese pistachio (male only), and gingko (male only).

Chinese pistachio is listed as a superstar by Texas A&M, as well as shantung maple, in the non-native department. I have grown both, and highly recommend them. Superstar status means little disease, high stress tolerance, longer-lived, and attractive. You have to be very careful with a male c. pistachio, as they are notorious for circling roots in a pot. But establish easily.

Root problems with trees that are not know to have shallow roots can occur, but it is almost always due to improper watering technique. You water deeply and infrequently after establishment.

I don't know if that helps, but what the heck. I thought I'd chime in. Best wishes.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 6:40PM
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Chinese Pistache was one of my picks. I found nothing wrong with it.

Yeah it is high alkaline soil. They actually have a list at the local nusery called "do's and don'ts of alkaline soil".

I went to a new garden place that is going to be the place I buy, and I really liked the Autumn Blaze they had. I haven't read much, but it says it can handle hot and cold. And for those who don't know, Salt Lake is a top 10 list of highest pollution cities in America. And it says this tree can handle that. I think its pros outweigh other's cons.

I really like the Nut Trees, I just don't think I have room to plant 2 of them. I really like the Black Walnut, or the Chinese Chest nut. I just wish I could grow real pistashios off that PIstache tree.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 12:01AM
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I actually really like the Chinese pistache tree, I almost bought one last year until someone told me that it isn't the pistachios I eat.

I just wish I could plant real pistashios, but to cold up here.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 12:17AM
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I don't know about when everyone else looks up trees, but I keep getting the same kind of options, so I don't think I have as many options as I would like to believe. But it is apparent that Maples out number all others big time.

Like I just checked out fastgrowingtrees website cause I saw it mentioned in the forums, and I got same trees in my advanced search, as I did from several other places.

Shade, 4-7 growing zone, and Utah varibles:

I didn't bother writing in trees I will never get (willows, aspens, or poplars).
Autumn Blaze Maple
October Glory Maple
American Sycamore
Crimson King Maple
Ginkgo Tree
Bloodgood Japanese Maple
River Birch
Sawtooh Oak
American Elm Tree
American Hornbeam
American Sweetgum
Thornless Honeylocus
American Red Maple

I been trying to stick to this list: But when I get to store, I don't see any of the ones on the list, and some how, I am just attracted to the maples.


The list says Silver and Red maple are prone to problems. But from what I understand the Autumn Blaze is a cross between the two, which does take away some of the cons from both sides, like it takes the pros from both sides with out a lot of their cons.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 12:42AM
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I would reiterate, Ryan, that most of the trees in your old list and your new list will suffer due to your soil chemistry and droughty conditions. The effects will be chlorosis, or higher disease, or shortened life, or all or a combination of the three.

Not to say that it can't be done, but the odds go down for you and your tree from the get-go. "I've seen it with me own eyes".

On your new list, Sycamores will work, but have weak branching and are dangerous to plant next to a house, japanese maples will work, but will require afternoon shade in hot climates, american elm will work but will be susceptible to a fatal disease, and the rest are acid loving trees.

The list I gave you originally, believe it or not, is pretty dern comprehensive. If there were other shade trees that were outstanding choices, I'd add them for you right now...but..but...I'd also be growing them myself.

The only trees I haven't mentioned that would be outstanding choices, are not cold-hardy enough for you. Oh, well.

So please understand, I have nothing to gain financially from you by sharing my experiences, but the tree companies that are giving you information most certainly do.

If you want to go against the grain, and try anyways, by all means, go for it. This is America, land of the free, home of the brave, etc. Best wishes (as always).


    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:24AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

I'm going to say Shumard, Bur oak, Bigtooth maple.

Autumn Blaze will do OK with good water - it's not a huge fan of alkaline soil, but will perform better than red maple.

As much as I like red maple here in the East, I have acid soil and good rainfall, and you can water, but can't change your soil chemistry.

Bigtooth maple is native in Utah, and grows wild near SLC at least in Davis County, if I recall correctly, so is a good choice for a maple.

Ginkgo I think would do OK. I like the recommendations of Chitalpa and Yellowwood. I'm surprised Baldcypress is on the list. Unless you can get one grown from an alkaline-soil seed source (most likely from the westernmost part of its natural range, in Texas) then it too will be chloritic.

I'd think Liriodendron (Tuliptree) may have pH issues and is a pretty thirsty tree, same for Sweetgum.

As Mackel said, Shantung is another good choice but might be marginal in cold hardiness for you.

Another option that is hard to find but might work is Western Soapberry.

This post was edited by hairmetal4ever on Tue, May 13, 14 at 10:49

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:47AM
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That last list was just trees that keep coming up in my search for a shade tree, I didn't pick them at all. I mean those are the actual options that kept coming up on these tree sites.

The glover nurseries opened up my options. It is the place I went to today: (seriously everything in this catalog is on site and for sale)


Bigtooth and Bur Oak are there. I know cause someone was buying a Bur Oak when I was there, and I saw a Bigtooth Maple in the maple section.

I had a guy come out, and he told me in my city Water Lines are a minimum of 36 inches deep (to not freeze). And that the sewer line is below it. So I am not even concerned with the lines anymore cause a maple won't even be below it.
From what I have read the Autumn Blaze is a perfect tree. I finally saw all the maples at same time, and the Autumn Blaze looks way better, the tree is just better looking.

I like the Ginkgo, so I will probably put one in back yard with my Asian Pear Trees, to keep my Globe Willow company.

I actually like the Bur Oak and Chinese Pistache, I wanted to put one of the two on the other side of lawn, but honestly I rather put in the work, and get a Black Walnut or Chinese Chestnut, and get two on property, and produce something I can eat.

I do have a new question:

What is better. A Bigger tree now that has grown big in a container. Or, buying a smaller tree that is put in the ground and grows to same size as the bigger one but inside the ground?

I was concerned that a big tree might have weaker roots if it lived a larger portion of its life in a container, while a smaller one, would grow up while in the ground.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 12:29AM
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A few thoughts...

I have two young Gingkos, and they are slow growing trees. Slower than many others.

I have a Bur Oak and a White Oak, and they are growing very quickly, from 5 feet a few years ago to 12'+ and reaching for the stars. They get full sun, and seem to really like lots of water, too.

A young Tulip Tree here in front. I'm hoping this year it will start growing pretty fast...

Hackberry here, too. Seems to be a bit of a slow grower.

And I have an old Acer Rubrum. Nothing special, fall color is yellowish, and it does seed pretty well, along with the other Norway Maple related varieties. Thousands of seedlings....

Sycamore seems to be a fast grower with good form, and no litter. But the big leaves don't break down so fast in fall.

Black walnuts are nice, but the nut hulls do stain and get in the way. And even an army of squirrels won't make them all disappear. I'd put them in the backyard where they won't stain anything or get in the way.

I would think a dry area with less water would inhibit growth a bit.

Bigger vs smaller.....5' or less will take a while to get bigger, but a bigger one will have more size now, but may take longer to acclimate itself. I would think of a bigger tree if it's a slow growing variety, a smaller if it's a faster grower.

Hope some of this helps...


    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 2:16AM
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Hello FB1-

A white oak is very, very beautiful and must have acidic soil, from my understanding, so I am assuming that's what you have. Out here, you can only find them in East Texas (acidic). But the OP said his soil is alkaline. They can be successfully grafted onto a bur oak rootstock, and I'm considering getting one of these (probably the next tree I plant).

My hunch is that your microclimate doesn't resemble the OP's at all.

A black walnut gives off a toxin harmful to other plants and trees. This effect will likely be more pronounced in SLC.

A tulip tree requires a ton of water in the heat and and will drop leaves in mid to late summer, when shade is needed most.

A hackberry is very common here and plumb ugly. I hear that a lot. I think all native trees have their uses, but I personally wouldn't plant one in a front yard.

A sycamore is a beautiful tree, but with a destructive root system.

Any maple that is not native to an acidic soil is going to be shorter lived in an alkaline/droughty soil, and are known to have shallow and greedy roots. Many well established maples (that are not on the list I provided earlier) died recently in the drought of the last few years. here in Texas (10-20 percent, statewide).

There is plenty of information on this forum, OP, why smaller is better. Interestingly, small seedlings of gingko (non-named cultivars) may turn out to be female, but aren't as slow as one might think, at least here in Dallas. It's a "must-have" tree, imo. It should be planted where shade isn't needed quickly.

It would be real easy for me if I lived in SLC, given the information provided, what trees I would chose.

The last thing to think about, and this might not be as important to you, is how responsible is it to plant a tree that wastes resources in the form of irrigation. Costs money, and is a lot more work than a tree that you can simply let go for the most part, and will thrive and be happy, healthy, non-destruvtive, long-lived, and BEAUTIFUL, as well.

Never undertstood the fascination with most maples planted where they were never meant to grow. If you don't give them a lot of tlc in that type of environment, they're chlorotic and ugly, imo. All for a few weeks of fall color. You can tell a yankee down here, lol, by the type of maple in his front yard.

Best, best wishes, OP, I've exhausted the subject or at least my experience/knowledge on droughty/hot/alkaline microclimates.


This post was edited by Mackel-in-DFW on Wed, May 14, 14 at 9:42

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 9:39AM
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blakrab Centex(8a)

Feature Trees:
- Pecan Tree
- Oriental Raisin Tree (Hovenia dulcis)

Small Ornamentals:
- "Little Girl Series" & assorted Saucer Magnolias (M. x soulangeana)

Here is a link that might be useful: Tree Recs

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 7:50PM
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Obviously at first thought I want what shades the best and looks the best doing it, but the better overall is more desirable, I rather research twice, and plant once, i.e. I want it there for 40-50 years.

I don't think there are a bunch of maples around here, everyone has those dark red trees, willows, poplars and them aspen quakies, I am sure those 4 make up 60% of deciduous trees around here, and then conifer like trees make up a ton, pretty much everyone has some sort of one.


I tested my soil and it is ph level 7.0. And according to the internet that is normal But 7.0 is high for Maple tree.

So would a small tree, i.e. 20-30 feet tall, be suitable for a shade tree? I read the Ginkgo is a small tree and is slow to grow, and ornamental, and I don't remember seeing it as a shade tree? Does it actually have a good spread with thick coverage?

I am going to be planting at least 2 trees this year, and probably a half a dozen next year. I have a blank north side of driveway, a blank boulevard, and the south side of front yard, once stumps are removed, will be blank.

I can go to store right now and pick exactly what I would get. I just got this prime location that needs a great shade tree, and ginkgo doesn't seem to be it. Maybe on other side of drive way.

This post was edited by RyanStorm on Thu, May 15, 14 at 2:22

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 11:13PM
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After further research, it appears that a male chinese pistachio is about the closest to a bullet-proof shade tree for your situation that fits all of your criteria.

It can can live off of as little as 12 inches of rain a year.

Your irrigation water will be alkaline (and possibly high in salts), which will drive up a pH of 7.0, particularly the more you use.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 2:23AM
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I researched as much as possible, and I bought two trees today to get things going. 1 feature tree for the premiere spot out front, and 1 fruit tree for backyard, i.e. an Asian Pear Tree and a Autumn Blaze Maple Tree.

I still need 1 more feature tree for ornamental purposes. Were likely getting the Kwanzan tree, and the Ginkgo tree. But then we also like the golden chain tree, magnolia, and the hawthorn. I also like the Japanese maples.

To me, this fruit tree thing blew my mind today. I got an Asian Pear tree with every variety built onto 1 stem/trunk. I was unaware of grafting til today. So now I got 1 fruit tree to plant with multiple types of Asian Pears, all depending on which branch you pick from, and the coolest thing of all is, they pollinate each other; no need for a 2nd plant, meaning I got more room to plant myself a peach tree or apple tree that will also be mixed.

As for the feature tree, a group consensus was the Autumn Maple. Red Maples are great, but I liked the hybrid, it was like having a swirl ice cream cone. From what I have been told, 6.5-7.5 is the pH level for it. I liked it most cause it covered all basis for what could work in this spot, and for what would function the best as a shade tree, plus it looks good doing it. I think it is the best tree for this spot. I think it is great for front yards.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 2:23AM
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