The Q&A Archives: Choosing Trees and Shrubs

Question: My patio faces northeast. Can you suggest three specimen trees and two low growing shrubs that I can use in that location?

Answer: I wish I had a few more details, like what size trees are you wanting, what your soil is like, and what you are looking for in a tree, such as shade, fall color, spring flowers, etc. So with that in mind, I have selected a few which I find interesting.

Amelanchier canadensis, Shadblow serviceberry, is an exceptional small tree or large shrub. (6-20') White spring blooms and berries prized by birds make this a good choice. For a larger tree, consider Acer rubrum, Red Maple. This tree pleases in all seasons: Besides the expected beautiful fall color, red maple's deep red buds swell early anticipating spring. In summer it shows beautiful rounded form. This is a fast growing tree. Consider Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) whose leaves are slender and feathery. Yellow fall color adds to its beauty. Look for a thornless cultivar.

Depending on your soil, several low growing shrubs are possible:

Andromeda polifolia, Bog Rosemary, needs wet, acid soil. Growing to only 12" this low shrub blooms in spring.
Kalmia angustifolia (Sheep Laurel), an evergreen shrub of thin, open habit can grow 2-3' and also needs acid soil. Deep lavender-rose flowers bloom in spring. Shrubby Cinquefoil, Potentilla fructicosa, will tolerate dry soil. Several varieties, heights 1-4' with yellow flowers in summer.

As you plant, be sure to keep in mind the mature size of the trees and shrubs.

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