Need help picking the right tree
Hi all, I've been reading the forum over the last couple of days trying to gather information on a good tree for the front yard. I've come to the conclusion that I really don't know enough, so I thought I'd give my situation and wants, and let the experts give me some good recommendations. So here goes:
- South Alabama, 30 miles inland from the Gulf.
- Our house is in a new development, faces south, sun comes across the front of the house, front yard is full sun except for last hour of the day, wedge lot on a corner. Front yard is not that large. 60 feet from house to road, and about 40 feet from driveway to far side property line. Would like to plant one tree to be a focal point, but also not overpower the house. Our house is a little more than 1500 square feet.
- Need something fairly drought tolerant. We'll get rain every day for a month, but then will only have occasional sprinkles for a few.
- Would like something relatively low maintenance, both in growth and clean up.
- Soil is not great. Hasn't been tested, but like I said, new development so it's got a mixture of sand, clay, and probably beer bottles.
- Prefer a fast grower. We need shade fast. Our summers get into the 100's regularly.
- We have a grinder pump system in our front yard, and due to the yard constraints, anything we plant will have to be fairly close to that system, if that should be taken into account (spreading roots vs downward?).
In my research, I noted that not many on this site are fond of the Cleveland Pear (glad I checked this site, as my local nursery was trying to sell me on it hard). Saw that the Royal Empress is the fastest grower, but again that most if not all on this site hate that tree in a residential setting.
Some trees that appear to meet my criteria are the River Birch, Autumn Purple Ash, and Chinese Elm. Would love to plant a huge oak in the front, but my wife isn't too keen on having anything super large in front of the house because of the constant threat of hurricanes in our area and trees going down (especially with fairly limited space to work with in the front). What do you guys think about the above mentioned trees in general? They are building a huge two story behind us, so we'll also be looking to plant in the backyard for some privacy. I already have a Sawtooth Oak, 2 Hybrid Poplars, and Eucalyptus tree in the back and side yard that I planted this past March. Could plant up to two more tress comfortably.
So with that, I'll eagerly await your responses. Looking to buy and plant now so any suggestions and info are greatly appreciated. Thanks!