Front Entry Tree Suggestion - Knowledgebase Question

Shamong, NJ
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Question by tborkowski
January 7, 2002
I am redesigning my foundation beds and am hoping for some opinions/suggestions on small trees that would look nice around the front door entry.

I would like to expand the bed around the non-walkway side of the front entry out about 15 feet and was thinking of planting a Crape Myrtle along with various shrubs and perennials.

Would a Crape Myrtle be a good front entry/foundation tree or are there better alternative trees that might be more suitable? I live in Burlington County, NJ and read a FAQ that Crape Myrtles might not be able to grow into trees due to the winters in this area.

Answer from NGA
January 7, 2002
Yes it is a bit cold there for crepe myrtles to reach those tree-like proportions we enjoy further south. They may be killed back to the ground during a difficult winter, and they also tend to leaf out quite late in the spring.

In a sunny spot, you might consider Cornus kousa, a special dogwood. For sun or part shade you might consider the native redbud or perhaps a serviceberry. There are some smaller varieties of disease resistant crabapple and ornamental cherry that make lovely specimen trees, too.

A large flowering shrub that can be trained to tree form and blooms during the summer is the hardy hibiscus or Hybiscus syriacus. If you really would prefer a summer blooming plant in that location, this might be one to consider. I would look for a modern, named variety in a color you like, preferably one noted for being sterile so it will not seed itself about.

Your choice will be limited by the amount of space vs. the mature size of the plant as well as by the lighting and the kind of soil you have. Your county extension and local nursery personnel should be able to help you in making a selection that is both suited to the location as well as providing the ornamental look you are hoping for.

I hope this helps you get started in the decision making process.

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