Trees Too Close?

elapidMay 18, 2014

I have recently purchased my new home in Ottawa, Canada, which backs on to a park. The park is very green, which is wonderful, but I want to introduce some colour variation to my back garden. I purchased a Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) and a Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum). My plan was to plant these in either corner along the north fence, with the Serviceberry in the sunnier east corner and the Japanese Maple in the shadier west corner (see attached photo - the Serviceberry is in a pot in the east corner and the Japanese Maple is intended to be put in the west corner of the lawn/patio junction). There is 4 metres between the two trees.

My question is: Is this too close for these two trees? Is there anyway to manage these trees (pruning, etc) as they grow to allow them to both exist in my back garden with minimal problems? Any other advice would be much appreciated.

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both of those are fairly small trees and should be fine. SOMEDAY they might compete and try to grow away from each other, but I would imagine you are fine for 15 years anyway.
I would be more worried about competition from whatever is growing behind your fence. Also, is Ottawa warm enough for JM? We can't grow them here and we are zone 4.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 9:59AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

too close to each other.. naw ...

to close to the fence.. yes ... it should go a foot or two to the right... AT LEAST ... with the understanding that you dont have a lot to work with there ... at a min... it should be turned so the taller branch is away from the fence .. and dont forget.. you can plant it slightly crooked in the hole.. to get the tall one.. going straight skyward ... presuming you are going to prune it into tree form ....

as to pruning.. get back to us as it grows... no pruning the first year or two ...

you might also want to consider some vines on the fence .. like clematis or some such ... morning glory for an annual ... to hide the fence itself.. subject to light levels ...

the bigger question for me.. is what is the big tree in the corner.. and what will be its impact on competing plants ... pic of the leaves will get you an ID ... oh.. its on the other side of the fence.. lets hope its not a killer ...


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 10:20AM
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Thanks for your replies.

The tree on the right side of photo in the park has branches that overhang where I intend to put the Serviceberry. Should I cut these overhanging branches or will the Serviceberry be OK without having to cut them? The tree on the left side of the photo is about 10m away from the Serviceberry and has no overhanging branches that come on to my property.

Where I intend to put the Japanese Maple has no overhanging tree branches. (BTW, Ottawa is Zone 4b - I have grown a Japanese Maple in my old home and other than having a hard time in full sun during a hot summer, the maple did well).

The first attached photo is a leaf from the tree on the right side of photo (sorry, it is a little out of focus).

Last question: I am thinking of putting another tree where the Japanese Yew is in the above photo (which has been planted in the bottom right corner of the garden bed). Any suggestions - this will be a low light tree?

This post was edited by elapid on Mon, May 19, 14 at 22:12

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 9:45PM
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By the way, the attached photo is a leaf from the vine that is starting to grow on the fence.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 9:46PM
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your photos - tree looks like a basswood/linden. Vine is maybe a virginia creeper.

tree suggestions for lower right - you need something fairly small and shade tolerant. You might be better off with a shrub - see this thread

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 10:08PM
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Thanks Corkball. Both you and ken_adrian were concerned about the tree in the park competing with the Serviceberry. If it is either a basswood or linden, do either of these pose a problem for the Serviceberry?

Thanks also for the link to shrubs as an alternative to a tree. I am trying to encourage bees to my back garden and will put out mason bee nests. With this in mind, I will look into either Cimicifuga or Curly Red Leucothoe as options. Thanks again for the suggestions.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 8:42AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i dont know linden.. so someone else will have to answer as to whether it plays nice at root level ...

do not prune it at the fence .. up high.. the issue has nothing to do with branches ...

nothing is going to die for shade ... it more an issue of how fast the transplant takes to get ESTABLISHED ... if the tree is sucking all the water out of the ground ...

see link for planting and aftercare instructions ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 10:20AM
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Linden/basswood (scientific = Tilia) - sorry I don't have a mature one. They seem to cast a very deep shade, but their roots do not seem as troublesome as a maple. Maybe someone else can speak to trying to grow things under a Tilia?
Shrubs - another one that the bees seem to like is honeysuckle - there are all kinds of northern ones including a blue edible one from Asia (Lonicera caerulea). They seem to do ok in partial shade.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 10:10PM
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Thanks again for all your help. I'll keep you updated and post photos.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 5:42PM
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