The Q&A Archives: planting a cherry tree in the city

Question: Hello. I recently purchased a home with a small yard in the middle of Washington DC. I would really like to plant a decorative cherry tree in my front yard, but I am very concerned that it won't work out. The area I am looking at is only partial sun, because of one large building and some tall sidewalk buffer trees nearby. The soil appears rocky right now, though I have not tried any digging at all yet. It is a new home on new property, so our grass is just starting to grow there. Also, we have some brickwork and a fence in the area where I want to plant, and I am concerned that the roots will cause cracking in the bricks years down the road. Also, there are overhead wires, and I can't see room for the tree to grow much larger than 10 feet.
I know these are a lot of potential hazards for a tree, but there really is no other place for one in my yard. It is very small, and all around us is the city. What I really want is to plant this small cherry tree near the corner of my front yard and create a shade flower bed around it.
If a real decorative cherry will not work, I would be willing to look at other varieties that are weeping or dwarfed, or that for whatever reason would stay small. If nothing else, another small flowering tree that looks similar to a cherry would suffice as well.
I grew up on a farm, and this is my first home. Despite being in the middle of the city, I can not imagine not having a tree. I have asked my father, who still farms fruit trees, for advice, but he has a dementing illness and is having trouble coming up with an answer for me.
Thank you.

Answer: I think the perfect tree for you is the Snow Fountain Weeping Cherry Tree. It has a cascading habit and compact growth habit. This slow-growing dwarf has graceful branches that bend to the ground and each spring the Snow Fountain Weeping Cherry Tree dons a floral cloak of pure white so beautiful it rivals any flowering ornamental. Ultimately reaches a height of 12-15' and spreads 6-8'. Very hardy, disease and insect resistant. Because it remains small, the root system should not cause problems in the restricted space you describe, but there's always the possibility of planting it in a large container rather than directly in the ground. This way you can keep the roots restricted and give your tree some decent soil in which to grow.

Best wishes with your new tree!

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