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Help!! What kind of tree do I get?

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Jul 02, 2013, 10:28 PM
Help!! What kind of tree do I get?
I want to plant a tree in my front yard but know nothing about them. I only live in a ranch and don't want a tree thAt overpowers my house. I do want it for shade purposes but I also want it to be aesthetically pleasing as well. Does any one have any suggestions?
Jul 03, 2013, 05:44 AM
what plant zone do you live in? Or, if you don't know that, what state are you in. Your location will determine what plants will survive where you live. For instance, you wouldn't plant a palm tree in New York
Jul 03, 2013, 09:04 AM
Besides choosing a tree appropriate for your zone, you'll need to determine (a) approximately how large the tree would be at maturity, and work back from there, and
(b) how much shade you want and during what seasons you want it.

Some conifers are excellent foundation plantings, others are more appropriate for larger space shade if there's more lot room. Not only do they provide shade in the summer but they provide wind breaks and bird shelter in the winter.

Japanese maples are beautiful foundation plants, but you'll never get much shade or height from them.

The length of your ranch house makes a difference as well. A small house could be overpowered by something like a Colorado Blue or Norway Spruce, even though they would provide some nice shade.

But if you want shade only during the summer, then a deciduous tree is the better choice.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Jul 03, 2013, 09:05 AM
I forgot to add i live in northwest Indiana I don't know what zone that is but it would be the same as Chicago Illinois
Jul 03, 2013, 09:07 AM
You're probably in zone 4 or 5. Now, what is your lot size, and are you in a city, suburb or rural area? Again, the land space available influences the choice of a tree.

We like photos, if you would like to post one of the area in which you propose to plant your new tree.
Jul 03, 2013, 09:08 AM
And yea our ranch is a rather small ranch... It's only a 1000 square feet... I forgot exact dimensions
Jul 03, 2013, 09:14 AM
It won't let me attach a photo from my phone
Jul 03, 2013, 09:35 AM
And I'm rough guessing here but the area I want to put the tree is approximately 75 long by about 40 feet wide and it's in a city
Jul 03, 2013, 10:00 AM
Erik, I think you have to post to an online photo site rather than upload directly from a phone.

Or try either of these options:

1. Check Simply_Me's good instructions in "The porch that went bad" post under Outdoor Projects in the Home Improvement Section":

2. Or Click on Tools below the DIY Message Boards toolbar, then click Help, then "How to Post Photos."

There are some lovely maples that provide nice shade.

One of which I'm particularly fond is a beautiful burgundy with thick leathery leaves and lovely fall color - Burgundy Belle:

The only problem with maples is the abundance of their "helicopter" seeds which fly all over during spring.

Oaks are another possibility, although when they're mature after several decades of growth they can become unstable. If you garden, oak leaves are great for overwinter mulch because they don't decompose as quickly as maple and other leaves. If you're a woodworker, you could plan to let one grow to a decent size, harvest it and plant another in its place, but you would lose the benefit of the shade when you replace the initial tree.

Other than junk trees like box elder, Chinese elms and tree of heaven, these are the good deciduous trees with which I'm most familiar.

If you want to go with a conifer, the arborvitaes will provide some limited shade, but they're also slow growers. Many are of the conical shape. I do have one that's more globish in shape but I don't recall the specific variety.

Here's a decent selection:

For pine trees, this is a good start:

and some information various pines:

Musser has a good variety of trees from which to choose. It's one nursery whose catalogue I order when I want to see what confers are available. You might want to start here, find some trees that you like and research to get more information.

I think generally shade trees are going to be slow growers, so unless you get a fairly large balled and burlapped tree, you aren't going to get shade for several years.
Jul 03, 2013, 10:03 AM
Erik, I was searching while you posted this last message, so my last post doesn't specifically address the proposed site.

But I do think maples would be a good choice, an oak less so unless you want its coverage span to extend beyond the 75 x 40' space.

The Burgundy Belle maple would easily fit into this area.
Jul 03, 2013, 11:25 AM
a nice shady tree in a small space is a linden. they get to about 25 feet tall by 20 to 25 feet wide, tapered by nature. because they don't have a large crown like an ash or an oak, it's point shade, but it's nice and dense.

maples would be a good idea for you, a decorative one rather than a swamp maple or a boxelder. crowning tree, medium growth rate does mean it could take a decade or two before there would be enough shade to brag about, and 30-40 years before it's majestic.

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Jul 03, 2013, 03:56 PM
A tree to definitely avoid is the black locust. It's invasive, spreads easily and grows quickly. It's hard to prune and cut down because of numerous sharp spines.

The leaves are lovely and allegedly the wood is good, but those are its only positive characteristics.
Jul 04, 2013, 07:51 PM
i like a weeping willow... or a magnolia*****?v=vn7bkncf1_E
Jul 04, 2013, 08:12 PM
Willows are so lovely and so graceful. I love the way their branches drape gracefully to the ground.

There's a magnificent willow on the grounds of the Mich. State University extension service property that is lovely in all seasons, but even more striking in winter after an ice storm when the ice on its branches looks like diamonds. It's absolutely stunning.

Willows are reputed to be hard on waste lines in this area though.

I understand that their branches can be used for various garden ornaments. Pick them at the right time and weave them into wreaths or fences.

The glossy and thick magnolia leaves can be used in floral arrangements at Christmastime. I'm not sure they'd survive in this climate though. If they did, I'd add them to my garden crafting section.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
Jul 10, 2013, 07:26 PM
Erik, for whatever reason I can't post an answer to your post with a photo of your house, the lawn of which is immaculately groomed and quite lovely.

I see a house with trees much too close to the house, overhanging, and probably with roots growing down the foundation. I see another with a tree farther out in the yard. That might be a good place for your tree, if it suits you aesthetically.

I still think a maple would look nice, especially one of the burgundy variety as I think it would complement the colors of your home and roof.

I see also that you do have enough room for some conifers such as the pines.

This is assuming that there are no waste or water lines running in the area you may want to plant.

And even though you want a shade tree, some Japanese maples would look stunning in the bed.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,