Oct 9, 2015 11:28 AM CST
Thread OP
Name: Dnd
SE Michigan (Zone 6a)
Daylilies Dog Lover Houseplants Organic Gardener I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Garden Ideas: Level 2
Long story short, my landscapers planted 3 sycamore trees (without telling me) to replace my 3 maple trees that perished the first year I had them. Glare

Everything I read says that Sycamore trees are terrible to put near sidewalks and streets AND that they are among the messiest trees you could possibly have. I tried to be optimistic at first, but I know if I don't replace them now, I'll either be stuck with problem trees or I'll have to replace them later and never have beautiful, mature trees at the street. Sad

Here's just one example of the mess they make (doesn't show the seed balls that can cause respiratory distress, the mess of fallen limbs, or the damage that can be caused to nearby cement):
Thumb of 2015-10-09/DogsNDaylilies/18508d
picture credit:

SO...I'm trying to convince my husband the sycamore trees need replaced Whistling and I need some suggestions for what would be good alternatives. There are so many trees and street tree suggestions online, but it's hard to sift through all of them and many nurseries don't give you the *cons* of certain trees so that I can weigh my choices fairly.

Can you guys tell me what trees you recommend as GREAT street trees Thumbs up and which one you know for sure to steer clear of Thumbs down ?

A little about my growing conditions:
zone: 5b/6a
sun: south-facing (full sun)
air: high winds, pollution isn't much of a problem
soil: clay-like, possibly a bit compacted, fluctuates somewhat between wet and dry (but we do have an irrigation system), (I don't know the pH level offhand)
spacing: roughly 35' between trees, planting area is on a 10' wide patch between the sidewalk and street

Preferences: It would be great to have a tree that either flowers or produces edible nuts. Tree cannot be evergreen. No messy fruits, please! No stinky trees, please! A fall color other than red would be great.
Avatar for Frillylily
Oct 9, 2015 11:49 AM CST
Missouri (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
well why did the maples die? I find it odd that 3 died at once. Were they being watered? were they watered too much, soggy soil?
10' width is not much. Most people plant trees that get way too large for their space and then utility companies end up butchering them and they look awful. Maple trees get a very extensive root system and can damage asphalt, concrete-foundations, plumbing ect. I would suggest dogwood, redbud, crab apple, cherry (fruitless). Amur maples may work for you, they don't get as large as the others. Pears (fruitless) may work, but keep in mind they are sometimes softer wood, poor branching and can damage in storms. Holly may be nice, some get larger like a tree-they are evergreen, but they can be limbed up like a tree, so easy to see around when pulling in/out driving. Have you considered a large shrub? lilac, forsythia, viburnum, burning bushes all get rather large and have color.

I would not under any circumstance plant willow, or silver maple in a 10' strip along a street. Avoid gum trees that drop those spikey messy balls. They also have invasive roots.
Oct 9, 2015 1:01 PM CST
Thread OP
Name: Dnd
SE Michigan (Zone 6a)
Daylilies Dog Lover Houseplants Organic Gardener I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Garden Ideas: Level 2
I can't be certain why the maple trees died. I have two other maple trees--a red maple in my backyard and a sugar maple out front--that are doing just fine (aside from mites that are causing black spots each year). I don't remember the type of maple that the 3 street trees were, but they were presumably from the same nursery that my other two maples are from since the same landscaper installed them (and at the same time, as I recall). It's possible the area by the street is getting more water due to the grading of the property, but the ground there doesn't seem soggy, even after our irrigation system waters it. Maybe, somehow, it's too dry? I really don't know what is going on. Shrug!

Technically speaking, I'm supposed to be planting maple trees, per our homeowner's association, but nearly everyone in the neighborhood is planting something different and the association has recognized that and pretty much said 'hey, whatever' to it. Additionally, I know I'm not the first person in our sub to have problems with maple trees dying. Maybe it's a pH issue or a problem with the compacted soil due to new construction?

Thank you for all of the suggestions. I'm going to re-research a few of the trees you suggested. I'm glad you mentioned about pear trees having softer wood. Prior to reading your post, it was in my top 5 considerations, but I may have to rethink that one.

(As for large shrubs, I can't do those. The trees that we plant need to be actual trees, not to mention that I want actual trees that will help our subdivision achieve the 'mature landscaping' look seen in older, nicer subdivisions with the beautiful, large street trees. Smiling )
Oct 9, 2015 4:29 PM CST
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4b)
Annuals Native Plants and Wildflowers Keeps Horses Dog Lover Daylilies Region: Canadian
Butterflies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Garden Sages Plant Identifier
How about honeylocust, such as Gleditsia 'Shademaster' (green) or 'Sunburst' (yellow)? They're pretty tolerant trees and when they shed their leaves they are just dropping small leaflets. They grow fairly fast too.

I also like the Amur maple as Frillylilly suggested but they tend to be multi-stemmed which it doesn't sound like you would want?

BTW are you sure the black spots on the maples are caused by mites? Around here we get a lot of "tar spot" on maples, a fungal disease.
Oct 11, 2015 6:33 PM CST
Name: Jim D
East Central Indiana (Zone 5b)
Annuals Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Procrastinator Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Indiana
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About any tree you plant is going to be messy A few to look at may be ,
Hybrid no seed , types of Redbud , A way overuse of Bradford Pear , a great street tree being used by many cities.
Yellow poplar , Shade tree , edge of zone for you ,State tree here ,
Inconspicuous blooms as tulip poplar , etc ,
A plum if you can keep up with it , Like walnuts, oaks, your going to have fruit and seed drop ,
Flowering Crabs are another popular choice ,
As are linden trees .
In the Butterfly garden if a plant is not chewed up I feel like a failure
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