The Q&A Archives: smaller tree for small front yard

Question: I'm helping a friend with re-landscaping her small front yard (9' by 18') of her new home. (The local nursery told us that they would order from you and to check your website.)
She's half a mile from the beach with an east-facing yard that only gets direct morning sunlight, especially this time of year when it gets very little direct light at all. She'd prefer a non-deciduous tree to plant next to her front bat window, but might be open to something that isn't evergreen if it drops its leaves all at once (gingko?). Do you have any suggestions given these size and light restrictions?
My friend also has a 4' by 18' strip of dying lawn between the street and the side walk where she is thinking of also planting a tree amid a bed of campanula. But I'm afraid that a 2nd tree will block the little sunlight the front yard gets. Maybe something like pittosporum

Answer: There are a lot of great small trees to consider. Kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) is an excellent choice, becoming broad spreading with distinctive horizontal branching and great fall color. Another dogwood to consider is Cornus mas or cornelian cherry dogwood with its wonderful bright yellow flowers, which open on bare stems in March. Its fruit ripens in July and is eaten by the birds. "Variegata" has variegated foliage, while "Elegantissima" sports pink shading on its young leaves. There are many species of Hawthorn (Crataegus) with showy spring flowers and red berries, which are loved by robins in early spring before the worms become available. Both Washington and Winter King are popular varieties; Winter King has showy bark in winter. Many new varieties of crabapple have small fruit that are persistent on the tree through the winter and will not create the mess as some of the old fashioned crabs did. For example Malus 'Adirondack" is a narrow upright tree only 12' tall with disease resistant leaves, white flowers, and red fruit that persists into winter. Serviceberry (Amelanchior) will grow to 25 feet with white flowers early in spring and black berries that are quickly devoured by birds in summer. The fall color is outstanding. White fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) also has white flowers in spring which give this native tree its common name "Old Man's Beard." It grows to about 20'. An evergreen suggestion is Ornamental Pear. This tree retains most of its leaves all year around, produces attractive flowers in the spring, and has a narrow, upright growth pattern which is perfect for small yards. While these trees mentioned should do well in your zone, be sure to check their adaptability to your soil type.

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