Answer: I'd select a Japanese maple. These are shallow-rooted trees, but the roots are not as troublesome as some of the larger and more notoriously surface-rooted maples. These trees need a soil that is humusy and cool as well as evenly moist, yet well drained. They benefit from a layer of several inches of organic mulch year round, spread out to cover the entire root zone. This makes growing lawn beneath it unnecessary, but if you do grow lawn there, you shouldn't see roots at the surface.
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