Answer: When selecting trees, it is a good idea to match them to the planting conditions. For instance, it would be better to plant the native dogwoods in a partially shaded area, either dappled light all day or morning sun, as you have already discovered. The definition of a small tree may also vary. Most "small" trees reach thirty feet or so. Since your lot is in full sun and is thus probably rather a hot and sunny place, you might consider some of the following: redbud (Cercis canadensis), goldenrain (Koelreuteria), newer more disease resistant crabapples, and ornamental cherries. The Japanese maples generally do best in a location with slightly acid, evenly moist yet well drained soil, and many of the named varieties prefer a partially shaded location as well. If your soil is moist, then you might have some success with them again. If they succumbed to disease, however, I would be hesitant to suggest replanting them. In a similar location you might also consider the deciduous magnolias which also prefer some moisture.
In deciding about the trees, it is usually a good idea to select just one variety and use the same tree in drifts or groups of uneven numbers such as three or five, with perhaps one specimen of one other variety elsewhere as an accent. If you have a large property, you could consider several drifts each of a different tree. This helps to avoid that "spotty" look. Finally, make sure to allow for their mature size when determining their planting locations.
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