Looking for the right street tree

fsofficer(5)May 6, 2012

Hi, all. I've been reading this forum for a long time but this is my first time posting.

I'm looking for a "street tree" to go between the sidewalk and street in front of my house (~8 ft strip). Location is SE Nebraska, zone 5. Also:

- Soil is very heavy clay.

- Winds are very strong in spring and fall. (It's windy Nebraska, and my house is on top of the highest hill in town.)

The local garden center recommended a Redmond Linden as something that would tolerate the clay soil, grow moderately fast, and probably cause any root damage to the sidewalk. However, I'm not really sure I want a large/wide/dense shade tree that will totally dominate and block the view of the house. If I do, I'd want something relatively columnar and with beautiful fall colors.

The more I think about it, I'm starting to go in the direction of some sort of ornamental tree that doesn't grow too large (maybe 30-35' at most) but sets the house apart from the rest with some striking spring flowers, and is relatively open at the bottom and casts a light shade so as to not over-shade the grass in the front yard.

Looking around on the 'net, things like the "Purple Robe" Black Locust look interesting, but would appreciate lots of other ideas and input.


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I know that different municipalities do things differently, but does that property belong to you? In all my homes the city owns that strip and can come through and dig it up for any number of reasons. Wouldn't want anything too pricey if that is the case.
If not- never mind :)

There are no power lines around?
Any druthers regarding fall color?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 10:20AM
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I don't live in the town, but do own property there. The hellstrips there belong to the land-owner and is also their's to maintain with R-O-W to the utility companies and city. Hellstrip trees used to be matter of fact and common. Any more they are so rare and the streets look so much more hot and barren and busy without them. Suppose car parking had a lot to do with that.

I have looked at a lot of 'urban tree lists' for your state and am disgusted that most of them are non-natives and a good many still on those lists are now target species for exotic pests (things like ash). For a curb side tree in a climate like your's I'd really consider a tree with a high salt tolerance as a priority. I think we have an urban forester who frequents this board. I hope he chimes in.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 10:43AM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

You might look into Norwegian and/or Pacific Sunset Maples. Not real large trees, potential for nice fall color, should be fairly drought tolerant since they are a Shuntung Maple X Norway Maple Hybrid and grow rather fast. Probable not much on spring flowers, though our Shuntung is surprisingly decorative in it's small yellow spring flowers. Yellowwod might work. Old trees can get larger, but they are OLD. The Arkansas state champion tree is not what I would overall call a "large" tree. Yellowwood has hanging panicles of white flowers (there is a pink form too), fairly drought tolerant, and nice yellow fall color. There are many of them planted in a local stores landscape islands of the parking lot. American Smoke Tree might be an option, though NOTE, THIS TREE NEEDS A DRY SITE. Clay is fine, but if the site tends to stay wet, it will get root disease and die. However, you get a beautiful unique tree with potential for FANTASTIC fall color, summer leaf color like I have seen nowhere else, and the some of the the "smoke" that gives them their name, though they are not as showy in this regard as the European Smoke Tree. American Smoke Tree is also VERY HEAT AND DROUGHT tolerant. These are the first things that come into my head. As for salt tolerance of all these, I do not know.

calliope, one thing to realize about Nebraska is that there are very few native trees to that state. The climate is pretty harsh, and as a result the native land form was almost entirely grassland. So the tree you found listed are probable those that can survive those conditions in a suburban environment.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 2:07PM
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Good point. Been there a few times, but never even thought of that.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 6:06PM
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Male thornless osage orange 'White Shield' or similar gets my vote. They are reportedly hardy in most of Nebraska excluding only the northern part where they can experience some dieback. I also did some research on this tree earlier and there appears to be production nurseries in NE growing this very tree so your local nurseries should not have too hard a time finding one for you.

Wind resistant
Very drought tolerant
Poor soil tolerant
Some fall color, not excellent always but not poor
Rapid growth rate but I don't know what exactly that will mean in NE
Size should be about right. Maybe a little too big possibly in a few decades



Here is a link that might be useful: And another link

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 10:10PM
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reread your OP! No fancy flowers with the osage orange, sorry! It would be a great tough tree for your spot, though :)

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 10:14PM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Still a great suggestion John. There is another possibility that I found off your provided links. Emerald Sunshine Elm would likely work. No flowers for this one either, but we are just trying to find plants that have a good chance of success.


Here is a link that might be useful: Emerald Sunshine

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 10:30PM
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I actually like the linden idea for your conditions, OP. And while the Redmond is one of the better cultivars IMO, I'm partial to the Crimean linden-Tilia euchlora. It has nice golden twigs, and a decent golden fall color.

Lindens do get big and dense, but their form is conical, albeit, widely so. Could still give you some view underneath and around it.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 10:33PM
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Maclura is an inspired suggestion. I have eight or nine of them on my g'house bench at the moment, not old enough to flower so don't know the sex, but definitely thorny. I love their shape, and they used to be so abundant here for hedgerows. Nothing goes through an osage orange hedgerow. But grown as a tree, always thought they were quite interesting.

Ditto Lindens. When I was little we lived on Linden Avenue, and it was indeed lined with Linden trees. They're long gone.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 11:12PM
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'Princeton' American Elm is the classic street tree. Very beautiful and stately.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 12:07AM
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^ Yes, no mention of street tree candidates would be complete without elms. They tend to be very tough customers too, which helps in that environment along streets.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 5:32PM
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beng(z6 western MD)

j0nd03, my "White Shield" Osages are doing great -- both almost 25' tall. Fast & vigorous & quite upright. Just don't try to trim a branch with a hand saw -- very difficult to cut thru.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 11:37AM
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