front lawn tree species suggestion

jane_wAugust 6, 2014

Hi All,
The city has determined we must plant a tree on the front lawn. It is a small space and there are older Norway maples on the lawns to to either side. The water line from the city to our house runs directly under the spot they have said they must plant at and I'd rather not block all light out front the front window (seems impossible). Can you recommend a species? I've attached the list of trees we are allowed to choose from. The city recommended a white oak. We have a huge black walnut in the back and I'm not loving the huge mess from the nuts.
Thanks in advance!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

boy its not easy to read the words on your link ..

there are a great many huge tree though ...

who knew.. that a KENTUCKY coffee tree is considered a canadian native.... whats that all about ...

i have never seen one... and know nothing about them.. other than its the smallest tree that i spotted on your link ...

no idea about any mess it might make ...

google images seems to show a canopy that is NOT dense ... which would be good for your light issue ...


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 11:24AM
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@ken_adrian It'll blow your mind then, to learn that OHIO Buckeye is also native to Canada. I guess those gosh darn trees just don't respect borders.

If you went for a big tree, any of the Oaks would be suitable. Limb them up as they grow.

Personally, I'd go for something a little smaller in stature.
Black Locust - tall but narrow and light shade
Kentucky Coffee Tree - moderate shade
Ironwood - smaller tree
Black Gum - medium tree (not wide spreading)
Accolade Elm - tall vase shape, moderate shade
Yellowwood - Medium tree, medium shade

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 11:40AM
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Based on your description of what you are seeking, I would go with the Ginkgo. The male tree (which I'm sure yours would be) is fruitless and more importantly meets some of the other criteria.

They do get big, however they are very slow growing trees and the canopy can be raised without many issues. I can almost guarantee you 10 years from now you will notice very little shade and the canopy will not be very dense either.

I really like Accolade Elm too. That's a pretty good list. What kind of soil do you have?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:09PM
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Can it be a cultivar or does it have to be species? I'm not aware of how this type of thing works..

If cultivar... I love Liquidambar styraciflua with their star shaped leaves, however, they are too big for my property, so I am considering getting the cultivar called 'Gumball'. This would be a nice small tree

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:29PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

please focus the discussion to this variable:

I'd rather not block all light out front the front window (seems impossible).

==>> which is why i was looking for the smallest.. least vigorous ...


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:59PM
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Looking at pictures on the Internet can be great to get a feel for what a tree will loook like (shape, size, crown density, etc..) however I think it is critical to factor in the timeframe.

For example my parents are getting up there in age and needed to take down a norway spruce that had died and was providing them with nice shade for their back porch. It would be silly for them to look at pictures of 50 year old slow growing Oak's or Sugar Maples and make a decision based on this. You really have to understand not only the purpose of the tree but also what the timeframe is. They would be better off to consider a faster growing tree.

If however you were planting a tree for future generations, you may be able to plant a different tree that 50 years from now may shade the window, but over the next 25 years would best meet your objective of not blocking the light out of the window as it would be still early in its long lifecycle.

The pictures/sketches that were provided to you for the various trees to consider are by no means representative of the tree form in the near or even somewhat distant future.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 1:15PM
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Thank you for the all the advice, I really appreciate it! The city really gives no helpful information at all, just the list. I will have a look at some more pictures of the suggested trees. I was surprised when the city said they were planting a tree, as the "patch of green" is quite small. I was originally thinking of planting something smaller but so much for that idea.
@ken_adrian LOL I'll have a look at the Kentucky Coffee Tree, might be nice to have a bit of the south here in the winter!
@SC77, we have to choose from the list and the city plants the tree
@smivees thanks for narrowing down the list for me! I don't know many of the trees so I will have a look/read on them. I do love the fall foliage of the black gum.
@longtee81 my first thought was a gingko, so I'm glad you suggested that. I have to confess that I started thinking about the other trees because I prefer trees that turn red in the fall. What do you think of the Katsura? I am not too sure of the quality of the soil as we just moved in and there is mostly grass. I haven't done any gardening yet. If it is like our old home in the neighbourhood, I actually found it a bit sandy. There seems to be ok drainage, though there is a driveway and a sidewalk surrounding the planting site.
I will take a picture tomorrow of the front yard. It's east facing.
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 12:07AM
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StGuaposFire(DE 7)

I know you said you prefer red fall foliage, but a ginkgos (in general) have amazing fall foliage. It is yellow, but a vibrant golden yellow that I believe is unmatched by most if not all other yellow autumn trees.

Plus, due to a ginkgo's branching and leaf patten, it will never really completely shade your window. It's also just a very interesting and unique tree.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 8:48AM
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Both the Black Gum and the Sugar Maple would have a consistent look with the nearby sugar maples and I understand both have nice fall color. I understand the Black Gum is often red and is low mess.

Honey locust has sparse, fern like leaves that would let some light through. Also very tolerant of road salt. I've seen a lot of seedless versions, but I understand the species drops big pods that can be messy. (Ditto for Kentucky Coffee Tree). Not great Fall color, maybe a little yellow. Tuliptree has flowers, as does the Catalpa. (But the catalpa is messy).

Sweet Gum and Horsechesnut thrive on road salt but are quite messy.

What are your local conditions? What Zone? Is the soil clay, or sand? Any problems with local over-use of road salt? How wet? Would the tree get full sun? Is there a lot of wind? We may be able to eliminate a few as unfeasible in that spot.

Try visiting a local arboretum to see what these trees look like.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 6:25PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

If the soil is slightly acid the easy choice for me would be Nyssa. It has a refined texture, a nice winter silhouette and good red fall color.

If you're talking about the typical 8' soil space between the street and sidewalk from what I recall seeing of most homes in downtown Toronto there are quite a few trees on there that are a bit questionable.

Although you say 'front lawn'. How can the city enforce what you put on the front lawn? Is there an easement the city owns in which you need to locate it? Guessing the sidewalk or drive is close? How wide and deep is the front yard?

Take a pic of your front yard and I'd bet you get more consensus for a suggestion.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 8:54PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Corylus colurna is on the list of approved trees. I first saw it in London and got the fruit identified here. I don't know this tree well but I'm seeing it increasingly used here as a street tree so presumably it can take some abuse. It is a well shaped conical tree. The leaves are a good dark green and the bark is interestingly textured even on young trees. It has catkins and nuts so you might consider it messy although I think it just makes it more interesting. I can't comment on Autumn colour.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 6:07AM
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That zone and soil ph and drainage info is important, but, if the trees listed are KNOWN to be good where you are, I would pick the White oak Quercus Alba or Swamp white oak Quercus Bicolor. Quercus Robur English oak are nice trees also, and may likely be okay if you have a not so acid soil.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 11:11PM
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All are good trees but for the specifications you have the Gingko would be your best choice.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 3:39AM
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Gingko fall foliage

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 4:09AM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

One thing to keep in mind is that Ginkgo's fall color in zone 5 is extremely hit or miss since it drops all its leaves at the first hard freeze which can certainly take place while the leaves are completely green. Don't plant it expecting to get it. Plant due to its adaptability and leaf texture.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 12:55PM
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