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Avatar for ceriano
Jan 2, 2022 6:50 PM CST
Richmond, VA (Zone 7a)
What are your favorite trees for front yard? I planted two Japanese maples back in September and a magnolia Vulcan yesterday, looking to add a couple of more trees to complement them.
Here is the picture of my front yard, before and after adding the new trees. I appreciate everyone's input.

Some of the contenders:

Paperbark Maple
Galaxy Magnolia
Ginkgo biloba autumn gold (or other types of more compact Ginkgo)
Sun Valley Maple
October Glory Maple
Parrotia persica 'Vanessa' (upright Persian Ironwood)
Felix magnolia
Sunsation magnolia
Tulip Poplar "Little Volunteer"
Three flower maple (Acer Triflorum)
Katsura Tree
Arakawa/rough bark maple
Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)
Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus)
Kwanzan or other types of more disease resistance flowering cherry

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Last edited by ceriano Jan 9, 2022 8:23 AM Icon for preview
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Jan 3, 2022 9:26 AM CST
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Identifier
You certainly need trees...
I usually try to plant to suit multiple goals.

Like say I want fast shade, and want to see butterflies...

In which case I would plant poplar for tiger swallowtails, and hackberry for tons of other butterflies as well as berries for birds.

And, red mulberry attracts birds, not just for the berries, but also for all the caterpillars to feed their babies.

Then, at my house... I need trees that produce wood that won't rot when I cut down the trees...
Trees like black locust, honey locust, cedar, osage orange, black walnut...

And then... everybody likes fruit...
Unfortunately, most of my fruit trees got sick from the diseases associated with our humidity.
I do have a pear tree that hangs in there in spite of fire blight...
and persimmons and paw paws and the fore mentioned mulberry are growing ok...

of course, there are nice shrubs... like red buckeye, and beauty berry, tall blue berry, wax myrtle...

There's going to be plenty of great plants that you can grow instead of that useless patch of turf.
Avatar for ceriano
Jan 3, 2022 12:43 PM CST
Richmond, VA (Zone 7a)
stone said:You certainly need trees...
I usually try to plant to suit multiple goals.

Like say I want fast shade, and want to see butterflies...

In which case I would plant poplar for tiger swallowtails, and hackberry for tons of other butterflies as well as berries for birds.

And, red mulberry attracts birds, not just for the berries, but also for all the caterpillars to feed their babies.

Then, at my house... I need trees that produce wood that won't rot when I cut down the trees...
Trees like black locust, honey locust, cedar, osage orange, black walnut...

And then... everybody likes fruit...
Unfortunately, most of my fruit trees got sick from the diseases associated with our humidity.
I do have a pear tree that hangs in there in spite of fire blight...
and persimmons and paw paws and the fore mentioned mulberry are growing ok...

of course, there are nice shrubs... like red buckeye, and beauty berry, tall blue berry, wax myrtle...

There's going to be plenty of great plants that you can grow instead of that useless patch of turf.



Yes I probably need to add quite a few trees to the side yard. For the front I think I can add 1-2 more.
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Jan 3, 2022 1:01 PM CST
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
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Ceriano, there is an issue with planting trees in lawns that you might want to consider:

Grass (roots) and trees (roots) require completely different watering methods. Subjecting trees, especially saplings, to the frequent and shallow watering that grass requires causes the roots to travel to the surface, making the trees less stable and less able to withstand periods of drought, and eventually causes the roots to become exposed and susceptible to lawnmower damage. To encourage the development of strong roots, young trees need regular (but less frequent than lawn) deep irrigation for their first year, at least.

That said, I'm a Westerner and I don't know what your rainfall is like ... do you even have to water your lawn? Does the rainfall soak the soil several feet down?
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
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Jan 3, 2022 1:04 PM CST
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Forum moderator Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Level 1
Scab resistant Crab Apples would be nice.
As Yogi Berra said, “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
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Jan 3, 2022 4:03 PM CST
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Anothe problem with trees in lawns is lawn fertilizer. Its very high in nitrogen, something most trees can't handle. It causes them to grow too fast and thus develop weak structure. They don't live as long either. Using a 'weed and feed' product comes with its own risk as trees are broad leaf and weed and feed is not very specific about what broad leafed plants it will kill.

Putting big bare rings around trees isn't really successful as tree roots travel sometimes hundreds of feet from the trunk. If you plan to have a lush green lawn, you may want to rethink the yard full of trees.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
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Jan 3, 2022 4:07 PM CST
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Bee Lover Bookworm Cat Lover Composter Container Gardener Herbs
Region: New Mexico Salvias Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Or vice versa— of you want a yard full of trees, rethink the lawn.
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
Avatar for CalPolygardener
Jan 3, 2022 4:25 PM CST
California (Zone 9b)
Redbud - any of the many varieties
Chionanthus
Crepe Myrtle - common but colorful
Chinese Tallow Tree (Sapium sebiferum)
Sour Gum (Nyssa sylvatica)
Ginkgo

Several are invasive in some areas, check to see if they are in your area.
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Jan 3, 2022 4:50 PM CST
Name: John
Scott County, KY (Zone 5b)
You can't have too many viburnums..
Region: United States of America Region: Kentucky Farmer Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers Enjoys or suffers cold winters Dog Lover Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
ceriano could support the best recommendations by describing what cannot be seen in the provided images: what are conditions below ground?

Some mention was made on another post, but I gather not everyone here has already visited there. Speak to the soil quality, or - better - show us what an open hole looks like!

Is this the driven sand of a seaside resort? The 11 - 12' deep Maury silt loam of the famed central Kentucky Bluegrass thoroughbred horse farm region? Caliche, like in (I think) Texas or New Mexico? Perhaps it is anaerobic gray hydric soils from a wetland?

I suspect (since a Streetview image showed new construction next door) that whatever topsoil the original site came with is long gone. There is probably a poorer draining B horizon subsoil with fresh sod on top, which means that great plant selections might have to take a reality check back seat to very tolerant plant selections. This doesn't mean one can't grow anything, and it doesn't mean one can't go out on a limb (!) with some wishful gardening thinking.

It does mean one should have clear-eyed expectations, and know what the chances are that a Cornus florida will just grow with abandon - despite it being a perfectly at-home native species in this part of Virginia. Local plants are going to do fine in unadulterated local conditions, but severely disturbed/compacted/irretrievably altered conditions require a different approach.

I see that I've become even more pessimistic than my predecessors - without meaning to. I would consider this wide open site to be more akin to a new highway cut - a pioneer species landscape. Around here, that means Juniperus virginiana, Rhus glabra, and Robinia pseudoacacia. I think you will likely be able to do somewhat better than that, but knowing what you have to work with and thinking about species that actually want to grow in those conditions can often lead to satisfaction on the first try - and certainly a LOT less effort on your part.

**Liquidambar styraciflua clones
**Nyssa sylvatica (as mentioned, with many exceptional clones like 'Red Rage')
**Taxodium distichum/Taxodium ascendens/Metasequoia glyptostroboides
**Quercus michauxii, Quercus phellos, Quercus lyrata
**Magnolia virginiana and its many selections
**Betula nigra
Avatar for ceriano
Jan 4, 2022 5:21 AM CST
Richmond, VA (Zone 7a)
NMoasis said:Ceriano, there is an issue with planting trees in lawns that you might want to consider:

Grass (roots) and trees (roots) require completely different watering methods. Subjecting trees, especially saplings, to the frequent and shallow watering that grass requires causes the roots to travel to the surface, making the trees less stable and less able to withstand periods of drought, and eventually causes the roots to become exposed and susceptible to lawnmower damage. To encourage the development of strong roots, young trees need regular (but less frequent than lawn) deep irrigation for their first year, at least.

That said, I'm a Westerner and I don't know what your rainfall is like ... do you even have to water your lawn? Does the rainfall soak the soil several feet down?


Both front and backyard are irrigated. I picked up a tree gator for deep watering.
Richmond is in the transition zone so winter grass does need to be irrigated regularly during the summer months.
Avatar for ceriano
Jan 4, 2022 5:27 AM CST
Richmond, VA (Zone 7a)
DaisyI said:Anothe problem with trees in lawns is lawn fertilizer. Its very high in nitrogen, something most trees can't handle. It causes them to grow too fast and thus develop weak structure. They don't live as long either. Using a 'weed and feed' product comes with its own risk as trees are broad leaf and weed and feed is not very specific about what broad leafed plants it will kill.

Putting big bare rings around trees isn't really successful as tree roots travel sometimes hundreds of feet from the trunk. If you plan to have a lush green lawn, you may want to rethink the yard full of trees.


Right now I feel 4 trees will be enough for the front yard. For the side yard I was thinking to add a holly hedge with row of trees in the front.
Side yard is south facing so tress should help casting shade on the lawn.
Avatar for ceriano
Jan 4, 2022 5:37 AM CST
Richmond, VA (Zone 7a)
CalPolygardener said:Redbud - any of the many varieties
Chionanthus
Crepe Myrtle - common but colorful
Chinese Tallow Tree (Sapium sebiferum)
Sour Gum (Nyssa sylvatica)
Ginkgo

Several are invasive in some areas, check to see if they are in your area.


Whats the most disease resistant redbud?
Also are Ginkgo trees messy in the lawn? I can get the biloba Autumn Gold locally. Do they get too big?
Avatar for ceriano
Jan 4, 2022 5:48 AM CST
Richmond, VA (Zone 7a)
ViburnumValley said:ceriano could support the best recommendations by describing what cannot be seen in the provided images: what are conditions below ground?

Some mention was made on another post, but I gather not everyone here has already visited there. Speak to the soil quality, or - better - show us what an open hole looks like!

Is this the driven sand of a seaside resort? The 11 - 12' deep Maury silt loam of the famed central Kentucky Bluegrass thoroughbred horse farm region? Caliche, like in (I think) Texas or New Mexico? Perhaps it is anaerobic gray hydric soils from a wetland?

I suspect (since a Streetview image showed new construction next door) that whatever topsoil the original site came with is long gone. There is probably a poorer draining B horizon subsoil with fresh sod on top, which means that great plant selections might have to take a reality check back seat to very tolerant plant selections. This doesn't mean one can't grow anything, and it doesn't mean one can't go out on a limb (!) with some wishful gardening thinking.

It does mean one should have clear-eyed expectations, and know what the chances are that a Cornus florida will just grow with abandon - despite it being a perfectly at-home native species in this part of Virginia. Local plants are going to do fine in unadulterated local conditions, but severely disturbed/compacted/irretrievably altered conditions require a different approach.

I see that I've become even more pessimistic than my predecessors - without meaning to. I would consider this wide open site to be more akin to a new highway cut - a pioneer species landscape. Around here, that means Juniperus virginiana, Rhus glabra, and Robinia pseudoacacia. I think you will likely be able to do somewhat better than that, but knowing what you have to work with and thinking about species that actually want to grow in those conditions can often lead to satisfaction on the first try - and certainly a LOT less effort on your part.

**Liquidambar styraciflua clones
**Nyssa sylvatica (as mentioned, with many exceptional clones like 'Red Rage')
**Taxodium distichum/Taxodium ascendens/Metasequoia glyptostroboides
**Quercus michauxii, Quercus phellos, Quercus lyrata
**Magnolia virginiana and its many selections
**Betula nigra


That's a great question and you are absolutely correct. The house was built a couple of years ago and like many new construction the builder has stripped (and sold?) the top soil. I bough the house a few months ago and did a soil test. It's pretty much deficient in everything. I did a major lawn renovation, and spent quite a bit on soil improvement (lime, fertilizer and top dressing). I'm planning to do another test in March see where I am. I'm also planning to top dress with 10-15 yards of top soil/compost mix every spring and fall to build back the soil.
When I planned the Japanese maples back in September the soil was rock hard red clay, now it looks loamy to me. Maybe the spot I dug this past weekend had a different structure but I was pleasantly surprise how workable the soil was. The top 6" looked nice and dark.
Also the front yard is west facing and side yard is south facing and get lot of sun.

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Avatar for ceriano
Jan 4, 2022 6:05 AM CST
Richmond, VA (Zone 7a)
ViburnumValley said:ceriano could support the best recommendations by describing what cannot be seen in the provided images: what are conditions below ground?

Some mention was made on another post, but I gather not everyone here has already visited there. Speak to the soil quality, or - better - show us what an open hole looks like!

Is this the driven sand of a seaside resort? The 11 - 12' deep Maury silt loam of the famed central Kentucky Bluegrass thoroughbred horse farm region? Caliche, like in (I think) Texas or New Mexico? Perhaps it is anaerobic gray hydric soils from a wetland?

I suspect (since a Streetview image showed new construction next door) that whatever topsoil the original site came with is long gone. There is probably a poorer draining B horizon subsoil with fresh sod on top, which means that great plant selections might have to take a reality check back seat to very tolerant plant selections. This doesn't mean one can't grow anything, and it doesn't mean one can't go out on a limb (!) with some wishful gardening thinking.

It does mean one should have clear-eyed expectations, and know what the chances are that a Cornus florida will just grow with abandon - despite it being a perfectly at-home native species in this part of Virginia. Local plants are going to do fine in unadulterated local conditions, but severely disturbed/compacted/irretrievably altered conditions require a different approach.

I see that I've become even more pessimistic than my predecessors - without meaning to. I would consider this wide open site to be more akin to a new highway cut - a pioneer species landscape. Around here, that means Juniperus virginiana, Rhus glabra, and Robinia pseudoacacia. I think you will likely be able to do somewhat better than that, but knowing what you have to work with and thinking about species that actually want to grow in those conditions can often lead to satisfaction on the first try - and certainly a LOT less effort on your part.

**Liquidambar styraciflua clones
**Nyssa sylvatica (as mentioned, with many exceptional clones like 'Red Rage')
**Taxodium distichum/Taxodium ascendens/Metasequoia glyptostroboides
**Quercus michauxii, Quercus phellos, Quercus lyrata
**Magnolia virginiana and its many selections
**Betula nigra


I totally agree native trees are probably the best choice for my growing condition however for the front yard I'm looking for specimen trees. I have already planted 2 Japanese maples and a magnolia Vulcan, at best I can fit 1-2 more trees.

For the side yard I'm planning to go with native trees maybe back gum or smaller magnolias.
Avatar for ceriano
Jan 4, 2022 8:27 AM CST
Richmond, VA (Zone 7a)
Here is what I got so far. From right to left, Magnolia Vulcan, Emperor 1 JM and Fireglow JM. The forth tree will go to the left of fireglow.

Some of the contenders:

Ginkgo biloba autumn gold (or other types of more compact Ginkgo)
October Glory Maple
Sun Valley Maple
Felix magnolia
Sunsation magnolia
Tulip Poplar "Little Volunteer"
Paperbark Maple
Katsura Tree
Arakawa/rough bark maple
Kwanzan or other types of more disease resistance flowering cherry


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Last edited by ceriano Jan 4, 2022 11:03 AM Icon for preview
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Jan 4, 2022 9:24 AM CST
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Identifier
ViburnumValley said:
I suspect (since a Streetview image showed new construction next door) that whatever topsoil the original site came with is long gone. There is probably a poorer draining B horizon subsoil with fresh sod on top, which means that great plant selections might have to take a reality check back seat to very tolerant plant selections. This doesn't mean one can't grow anything, and it doesn't mean one can't go out on a limb (!) with some wishful gardening thinking.

Those new construction sites tend to have compacted soils.
You say that you have red clay... which in truth is about the best thing you could ask for... that red clay is the best soil in Georgia!

But the fact that your yard has had heavy equipment on it recently, means that the soil is horizontal... dig a hole fill with water... does it ever drain?

Digging through all those horizontal layers until reaching a level below the compaction is a labour worthy of Atlas...

So... only planting a few trees in hope that they all grow... seems fairly unrealistic.

Far more reasonable to plant a lot of trees with the intention of thinning... should it ever become necessary.

Of course... this plan may not be affordable if purchasing expensive cultivars from the local nursery... far more practical would be digging a seedling bed and collecting seeds from the attractive trees in the neighborhood... sowing those and setting them out after a few years.

Or... the Arbor day foundation https://www.arborday.org/ used to give out free trees... Those were just seedlings and needed to be planted in a starting bed and grown out for a few years before setting out in permanent location...
Avatar for ceriano
Jan 4, 2022 10:00 AM CST
Richmond, VA (Zone 7a)
stone said:
Those new construction sites tend to have compacted soils.
You say that you have red clay... which in truth is about the best thing you could ask for... that red clay is the best soil in Georgia!

But the fact that your yard has had heavy equipment on it recently, means that the soil is horizontal... dig a hole fill with water... does it ever drain?

Digging through all those horizontal layers until reaching a level below the compaction is a labour worthy of Atlas...

So... only planting a few trees in hope that they all grow... seems fairly unrealistic.

Far more reasonable to plant a lot of trees with the intention of thinning... should it ever become necessary.

Of course... this plan may not be affordable if purchasing expensive cultivars from the local nursery... far more practical would be digging a seedling bed and collecting seeds from the attractive trees in the neighborhood... sowing those and setting them out after a few years.




Typically the builders bring in dirt (cheap dirt not top soil) and install sod in the last phase. There shouldn't be any compaction from heavy equipment. at least not in the top few feet or so. Also clay doesn't compact it consolidates. That happens over a loooong time.
At this stage I'm only looking to add 1 more tree so cost is really not a concern. I just looking for something unique. I haven't decided what I'm going to do to the side yard yet so I'd leave that open for now.
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Jan 4, 2022 10:34 AM CST
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Identifier
In my experience... there is always compaction with new construction.

The soil that the sod people bring in is usually a thin layer in my area... and... they spread it with more heavy equipment... making things worse... never better.

They do market plows to break up that compaction... but the equipment required for operation wouldn't fit on your plot.

I suspect that your expensive trees are going to prove extremely slow to grow... without some backbreaking labour to repair the soil.
Avatar for ceriano
Jan 4, 2022 10:49 AM CST
Richmond, VA (Zone 7a)
stone said:In my experience... there is always compaction with new construction.

The soil that the sod people bring in is usually a thin layer in my area... and... they spread it with more heavy equipment... making things worse... never better.

They do market plows to break up that compaction... but the equipment required for operation wouldn't fit on your plot.

I suspect that your expensive trees are going to prove extremely slow to grow... without some backbreaking labour to repair the soil.


agreed! it will take time to build back the soil.
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Jan 4, 2022 12:28 PM CST
Georgia (Zone 8a)
Region: Georgia Enjoys or suffers hot summers Dog Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
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Dumb question, but how do you top dress if there is already grass there? I wouldn't mind improving our soil composition, but I'm not sure how to do that with grass already growing.

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