View Full Version : Help with tree selection

10-19-2004, 10:36 PM
We live in an older neighborhood and have a small yard (about 30' wide). We are trying to figure out what kind of tree to plant for shade, but are not sure due to the size of our yard. Our neighbor has some kind of oak; not sure what kind. Our yard is sunny and we are in zone 8.

In reading on the website, the Overcup Oak is listed as a good shade tree for any city condition. Also, I've noticed Red Oak trees planted in the grass sections in the parking lot of our Wal-Mart.

We don't want a tree that has roots running on the ground.

Any suggestions?


10-20-2004, 01:08 AM
bluebooks, I think you're on the way to making a good selection. Observing what grows around your neighborhood in similar conditions can save you ALOT of trouble. Oaks also get too bad a rap for being slow growing, I think because of their longetivity. Picking a tree which grows fine in your neighbor's yard can save considerable trouble figuring out you soil type but limits the uniqueness of your choice.

Here's a link to further reading on Red Oaks.


One tree not listed everywhere is Nyssa sylvatica, aka Black Tupelo, Black Gum, Sour Gum, or Pepperidge. It is slower growing than most but doesn't do much to alienate people.


Quirky Quercus
10-20-2004, 12:36 PM
You might look at trees that have a very narrow spread when mature to avoid neighbors potentially complaining about things dropping from the tree. 30 isn't very much space. That should narrow down the hunt.

Planting native isn't a bad idea, that should also narrow down the search.

Finding a tree without surface roots when mature is certainly going to narrow down the hunt even more.

Sounds like the perfect place for a pine tree for full sun.

10-20-2004, 03:30 PM
The side of the house you're planting on can determine which types of trees to plant. Keep in mind that the south side of a conifer or evergreen is in perpetual shade when the sun is low in the sky in winter months. Here in the northern latitudes snow on the north side of conifers lasts until mid-May. When evergreens are planted on the south side of a house, they provide little shade because the sun in summer is so high that they would have to be directly over the house to shade it.

10-22-2004, 01:58 PM
I think PWK brought up a great point - which leads me to a question... what are you trying to shade?

If you're trying to shade the house itself, finding things that provide significant shade and stay within a 30' box will be a challenge - and I think PWK's post covered things you need to consider.

If you're trying to shade a deck or patio area, you might have a few more options, going for something that doesn't get quite as large, but still provides clearance for activities underneath the shade. The Nyssa sylvatica Taxodium suggested might fit nicely here - the ones I have tend to grow up straight and narrow, but that may be due to other competition.

If you're trying to provide shade for other plantings - such as a woodland garden - than a handful of Japanese maples, dogwoods, or other small trees might do the job best.