The Q&A Archives: I Need a Tree

Question: I am in need of a tree that will grow to no more than 20 feet. I prefer one that gives off lots of shade. Can you suggest some that might work for me?
Thank you

Answer: It's difficult to find a tree that grows no more than 20' in height, but we've done the best we can to make the following suggestions:
Amur maple (Acer ginnala); 15-20 feet high, 15-25 feet wide. An exquisite little spreading shade tree to loll beneath on a summer's day, the amur maple has a full, broad crown atop a multi-stemmed trunk. One of the first trees to leaf out in the spring, it has lightly fragrant but subtle yellow-white flowers. Winged fruits (called samara) develop in abundance, turning red in mid- to late summer. This choice patio tree produces variable fall color in tones of yellow, orange and red, the best occurring in full-sun locations. Adapts well to almost any soil and is exceptionally cold hardy.

Japanese maple (Acer palmatum); 15-25 feet high and wide; the subgroup Dissectum is 6-12 feet high and wide. Few trees enhance the landscape like the Japanese maple, and few species come in so many silhouettes--from the contorted, shrubby A. palmatum var. dissectum atropurpureum to 10- to 15-foot weeping forms to the full-sized species. No matter their size and shape, Japanese maples offer fine textural effects and outstanding fall color. Among the non-shrubby types, 'Ozakazuki' (15-20) has bright green leaves that turn crimson in fall; the leaves of 'Oshio beni' open fiery orange-red, age to reddish-green and turn bright red in fall.

Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonicus); 20-30 feet high and wide. Park yourself on a bench beneath this beauty in late spring and early summer, and gaze up at the white bell-shaped flowers that hang below the branches. The tree has pest-free, medium to dark green, 1-1/2- to 3-inch leaves and smooth gray- brown bark that develops orangeish fissures. The fragrant snowbell (S. obassia ), named for its scented white-flower clusters, has a coarser foliage texture with mature leaves that can reach eight inches long. This tree usually stays in bounds but occasionally grows taller, becoming open and rounded as its matures. Give snowbells moist, acid, well-drained soil.

Eastern Redbud - Cercis canadensis; 20 x 15; Shocking pink flowers appear along branches and twigs in late spring, followed by heart shaped blue-green leaves. 'Forest Pansy' has deep burgundy foliage. Requires well drained soil.

Hope one of these appeals to you!

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