SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
Houzz Logo Print
biochem101

What trees/shrubs best for large corner lot?

biochem101
11 years ago

We have a fairly large corner lot, slightly sloping, that currently has no landscaping. There were overgrown evergreens against the house, 2 white birch that came down in storms, and a couple giant yews near the Stop sign, that were all removed. We know nothing about gardening and are at a loss as to what to put in. We live in Zone 6b, about 330' above sea level, and the house faces North (no sun along the front to about 5' out). Also, dog walkers let them pee along the front edge, especially on any flowers set out near the street corner.

What kind of trees/shrubs would you put in front of the house? Would you put anything out on the corner (near street signs)?

{{gwi:10348}}

{{gwi:10349}}

{{gwi:10350}}

{{gwi:10351}}

Any advice is welcome! :) Thanks!

Since I'm not familiar with the garden forums, I'll post this in landscaping and in trees (or in Mid-Atlantic?). Forum advice welcome too!

Comments (29)

  • Toronado3800 Zone 6 St Louis
    11 years ago

    Nice lot! And house also.

    There are tons of choices for you. In my opinion the front yard wants at least one large tree. Perhaps bald cypress like. Something with height. Pick anything else based on your preference. What do you like?

    Oh, by the intersection leave enough room you will not have to prune them and that you do not block lines of site. I planted some darned redtwig dogwoods which ended up getting considerably more than three feet tall so I am stuck pruning them forever.

    Once again, you have a really neat canvas to work on there. What do you like?

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
    11 years ago

    top pic ... hi!

    from halfway between the stop sign and the mailbox ....

    to where the snow touches the left side of the pic ... if not a bit further ....

    NEVER PLANT ANYTHING THAT WILL GROW .. to interfere with the sight line of traffic ... i will further guess that there is a large easement there anyway .... and its not really your property to plant. ... besides the obvious snow plowing leaving what snow there is now ...

    if it is imperative that something be planted there ... go with ground hugging conifers ....

    otherwise ... a bed of 15 to 20 feet wide ... in a nice arcing form.. using that previous line as the far side.. and moving closer to the house... a giant jelly bean ... of mixed conifer, flowering shrubs ... and some nice long term stately trees ...

    at the house.. the beds you have are what i would leave bare.. and then plant some nice plants to hide the foundation ... in other words.. increase the depth of those beds to 10 to 12 feet ... you need to allow room for maintenance on the house ... minimum of 4 feet ...

    ken

  • Related Discussions

    best tool to till in amendments on large lot

    Q

    Comments (22)
    Using a tiller produces a finer grade of particle which seems fine when planting but it also means that when it settles and it will it packs more tightly; therefore your garden/yard soil will pack harder even if one never walks on it. Many people keep saying you never have to go deeper than x inches which means x inches of soil is worked and worked and worked and worked and worked till it is devoid of any natural material it once had. My gardens, combined, are only approx. fifty by sixty feet plus or minus but I usually every year dig at least one, more often two, holes approx. four by four, plus or minus at least sixteen inches deep and bury plant debri plus kitchen wastes and what ever I have in those holes to keep the sub-soil as rich as possible. The soil that was in the bottom of these holes also becomes the new top soil. Of late I have been shallow planting my potatoes but when I deep plant they are a minimum of eight inches deep and I do not want them sitting on pathetic sub-soil. No matter what some may say, especially those who use raised gardens and do not deal with the natural soil, rippers or sub-soil machines were developed for a reason. If you can get richer sub-soil, DO it, you only gain, you will lose nothing. Do not forget some trees have deep tap roots and the entire root area of others is very shallow which can be seen when they blow over.
    ...See More

    What tree, what tree? (Or large shrub)

    Q

    Comments (5)
    Check out Robinsonella cordata, with gorgeous blue hibiscus-like flowers. I just picked one up at the UC Berkeley Botanic Garden fall sale, and am anticipating the first time I get to see it bloom. I am also enjoying the fall blooms on my Cunnonia capensis tree in my front garden, but this is another rarer tree species that takes some searching to find. The Chinese Fringe tree is also quite nice or how about Cornus capitata?.
    ...See More

    What is this small tree/large shrub?

    Q

    Comments (15)
    Seriously doubt the OP's shrub is E. europaeus. Europaeus is not native here, rarely sold in any nurseries and very uncommon. It is far more likely to be E. occidentalis or the western wahoo. Roxsanne, we would need to see photos of yours to confirm it is NOT winged euonymus (E. alatus), which is very widely planted and can self-seed freely, to the point of being an invasive species in many locations. There is a possibility it could be an eastern wahoo, E. americanus, but again, need to see photos to confirm.
    ...See More

    What do you suggest I plant in this very large planter? Tree? Shrub?

    Q

    Comments (13)
    @lbooras54 I would point out that you have a lot of large trees in the view of your deck. So to plant another tall tree in your planter creates a somewhat boring repetition of the same vertical shape. One of the things I like about the Mugo Pine suggestion is that the bush form of pine will offer a contrasting shape and texture to the trees in the backyard. At the same time, the plant can easily survive your winters and will stay evergreen. The shape of the Mugo Pine is quite attractive and will be a focal point for the deck, particularly if you plant two of them in different locations. From the list @gardengal48 provided, I think the Sherwood Compact variety. looks interesting.
    ...See More
  • biochem101
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Toronado3800: thanks! I actually liked the white Birches that came down. We are thinking about Birch or smaller trees, ornamental rather than shade. The intersection is not a problem, there is NO traffic. The traffic in the pic is the traffic - NONE. LOL!

    Besides, as you drive down toward it from either side there is a view diagonal across the yard to the other street. It's wide open.

    Ken: It's all my property, no easement. Ugh. I wish it wasn't because we have no idea what to do with it. The low spreading conifers near the corner is a nice idea. Dogs might not kill them?

    It's interesting what you say about leaving the beds bare for several feet near the house, and starting the plantings further out. Never thought of that. If they were bigger there would be less to mow as well.

  • haroldandcher17220_yahoo_com
    11 years ago

    Here's what I would do.
    I'd go in 20 feet from the road (or whatever the easement is) and then I'd remove 30-35' of grass all the way around the lot. I'd get it started with the basics, red maple, red oak, pine, things like that that are easy to get ahold of and grow relatively quickly. Then I'd let mother nature fill in the rest. So you end up with a wood patch like in the back of the house but all around the lot.

    Then I'd stick a few legacy trees in the front yard. Sugar maple, white oak, Beech.
    I'd find some evergreen shrubs to plant to screen the foundation.

  • biochem101
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Cheryl, We do like woods, and we are keeping the wooded area on one side of the lot, but we like the front more open. Just not a desert the way it is now.

    Does anyone plant crab apple trees? I like flowering trees. Short ones. Weeping cherry?

    We planted a row of dogwoods along the drive and sadly most of them died. We are replacing them with snowball bushes.

    I guess I sort want an old fashioned look.

    Maybe I'm in the wrong forum? Maybe I need shrub advice?

  • greenthumbzdude
    11 years ago

    An oak tree (white or red) would look really nice in the center of your front yard maybe to the left a bit not to block the view of your house. It would provide quite a bit of shade and complimend the style of your house. On the right side of your driveway I would put in a couple of eastern redbuds for color.

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
    11 years ago

    i would bet a nickle you are wrong about the easement .... the road itself never fills the entire space for the road easement .... the bet would go as far as speculating that the gas light near the mailbox is probably just about the end of the easement [or the beginning of your property ....... or the shrub between the post and the mailbox ....

    regardless.. you have more than enough land to worry about .. rather than worry about the last 10 or 15 feet to the road .... arent the gas lines out there??? .. electric????

    anyway .... is the house sided.. or will it need painting .... if painting.. you might even want more than 4 feet ...

    if you have your mortgage map.. snap a pic of that ... remove any info you dont want published.. and post that .... it might help design peeps ... i tend to buy plants.. and dig holes ... not worrying about a plan .... figuring that over the next decade or two.. something cool will evolve.. lol ... which simply means i can not foresee what would be good for your situation.. without being there ... but there are lots of peeps who are good at that ....

    if i were you .. i would start with the backbones of the project.. and that is the trees .... i prefer oak ... and i would plant them 40 to 50 feet out from the house ...

    since you are new to the house .... call miss dig ... and insure you know where all utilities are before you go jumping on shovels .... especially at the house ... then take the camera.. and memorialize all the flags.. and mark another copy of your mortgage map .. and hang it all on a clipboard in the garage ... for future reference ...

    at the link ... you will see some of my pix .. i moved here in 1/2000 .. and you can see the date on the pic.. note all the young trees.. the backbones... which were planted in a former horse pasture in 2000 ... and it took 5 years to get around to building the beds .... sooooo ... if nothing else.. just get moving on the backbones..

    good luck

    ken

    Here is a link that might be useful: link

  • biochem101
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Ken: There are no gas or electric lines. The electric is up on poles and there is no gas in our neighborhood. The septic tank is near the front to the right side of the pic (no water lines either). That's where we had to take out one birch due to roots. The siding is new and doesn't have to be painted.

    Oh, and we have been there 14 years. I told you we don't garden! ;)

    We had all these trees out front and we have been taking them down. We have taken dozens of trees down on the property over the years. They were bad looking, very scraggly blue spruces that developed big holes in places, and white pines, huge swamp maples, plus a group of diseased willows. We keep our tree removal guy busy. Many plantings were bunched and had overgrown each other. There were two giant yews (about 12' round and high) out on the corner diagonal with the birch in between.

    You see, it took awhile but we finally got it all cleared out. It costs a bit to take trees down, especially large ones. So now we are starting new.

    And it's interesting about the blocking traffic bit, not that I would do it, but there are quite a few corners in our neighborhood with evergreens totally filling the property corner. It must have been popular 30 years ago!

    greenthumbzguy: thank you! Excellent suggestion about the Eastern Redbud. Googled it and it's very nice. Seen those around but never knew what they were. Sounds hardier than Dogwood.

    So far we like the Eastern Redbud idea and the low spreading conifers near the corner. We're still debating widening the beds near the house and leaving the 3' space. We did that on the left side of the house (the woody area). We actually did plant all those smaller trees there (which have grown quite a bit) trying to fill it in.

    In the back we planted a total hedgerow, so mostly filled in there too. Out front I feel it should be more...open park like???

    I know it's hard to judge an unknown space, but I really appreciate any and all ideas.

  • haroldandcher17220_yahoo_com
    11 years ago

    Old fashioned look?
    As in totally cleared for farming?

    Or as in before majestic old trees grew old?

    Small trees on a big lot often doesn't work out. the smaller understory trees like redbud and dogwood like to live beneath larger mature trees.

    Crabapples are ok. Not my favorite. Prone to many diseases and they don't provide much by way of shade and privacy which are things that add value to the property. Espcially for corner lots where there is usually an even greater lack of privacy.

    If you only want one or two trees, I'd suggest not placing anything directly in the middle of the yard because it renders the yard useless and yards are coveted by potential future home buyers.

    The landscape design section of this site may be able to help you if you tell them you want only small flowering trees. Then again maybe not.

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
    11 years ago

    evergreens totally filling the property corner. It must have been popular 30 years ago!

    ===>>> lol .... no.. 30 years ago.. the bigboxstore sold all these tiny basketball sized plants.. and everyone planted them ... never realizing that the little chuckers would grow for 30 years ... lol ...

    just like many planted those small plants ON THE FOUNDATION ... only to find out now .. that they cover the second story ... lol ..

    all trees/conifers have a known annual growth rate.. and being trees.. will most likely grow at that rate for your lifetime ... and that rate is the key to understanding.. what will fit where ... for the long run ...

    if it grows a foot per year.. then in 10 years.. it will.. hold on.. be 10 feet tall ... most height estimates are at 10 years ...

    but then.. at 20 years ... 20 feet ... 30 .. 30 .. etc ...

    yeah some slow down.. but they never stop ....

    if it must stay small ... then look for something that grows 3 inches per year .... you get the idea ...

    ken

  • dsieber
    11 years ago

    Given your PA address I would go with a Sugar Maple. Native and fantastic fall colour and a nice shape

  • greenthumbzdude
    11 years ago

    Well, I am glad you like the eastern redbud idea. One other suggestion would be to put in a mass planting of daylillies on that corner bed. They are very hard to kill so dog urine shouldnt be a problem. It would really make that area pop.

  • lou_spicewood_tx
    11 years ago

    Ken, I see a major flaw about planting oak tree 40-50 ft from the house... MOST houses do not have that kind of space...

    You gotta quit with that stuff. Nobody have acres of land like you do. I've seen plenty of trees planted 15-20 ft from the house because that's all the space they have. At least they get the shade and have insurance in case of a tree falling on the house which is a very small risk. So what if a tree falls on the house? Life goes on and you get a brand new roof...

  • tsugajunkie z5 SE WI ♱
    11 years ago

    Well, in this case the owner has the space or, at least to put it 30-40 feet away, but I'd go with Nyssa sylvatica instead of oak.

    tj

  • dsieber
    11 years ago

    Am I missing something It looks like there is enough room on the property for planting a Oak or a maple a significant distance from the house or road?

  • biochem101
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    There is an oak beside the house to the left. A pin oak. I guess it's hard to see in the photo.

    Ken - there used to be a tree farm (40 years ago) right in the neighborhood and the first homes bought so many evergreens their yards were totally surrounded. Some still are. Ours had white pine all down one side and across the back. I had never really thought about it, but you're right, it does block the view on some corners. Unlike new developments where it's all open. People here used them like a fence.

    There was a very large (higher than the house) strange looking type of blue spruce (very skinny branches) by the walk that had to come down. It got bored by wasps that made holes all through it. It wasn't very pretty, but it screened us from the road a bit.

    When I said "old-fashioned" I was referring to shrubs that were popular in my grandmother's time, like snowball bushes.

    All this talk about legacy trees has me thinking about Elms. Maybe a Valley Forge? A sugar maple is a nice idea too.

    Funny you should mention the day lilies....my husband stuck them down there along the corner. I thought it looked "weedy". Like someone just let it go.

  • biochem101
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    Maybe this will help. This is what it used to look like before the trees came down.
    You can see the oak better in this shot, too.

    Left corner of the house had a cedar and the right a blue spruce, with the funny tall spruce tree by the walk, with a white birch behind it (between the walk and the house).

    {{gwi:330625}}

    All the trees were crowded up against the house and growing into the septic lines. The cedar was very sparse and scraggly. We don't want to put trees right up against the house again, but we don't care for it "blank" either.

    There is also a row of cherry trees over along the side road edge.

    {{gwi:330626}}

    I just don't know what to do. It seems like so many possibilities I can't really pick something.
    I was hoping for some suggestions that would give me a few ideas, or a direction.

  • dsieber
    11 years ago

    An elm would work to if you can find an DED resistant version. Your house is a traditional looking house for the area which requires you pick a tree that would have been there before the house was even built!!! Chose something that would have been on the farmland in the area. I have a ginkgo fetish but that is not something that would be in a PA farm area hence a sugar maple or an oak ( I would slip a ginkgo on the right side of the property :) since they don't take up space and are immortal!!!)

  • dsieber
    11 years ago

    BTW it was a shame on the plantings too close to the house. Get an expert out and get rid of any potential problems.

  • quercus_macrocarpa
    11 years ago

    White Oak, Chestnut Oak, Sugar Maple, Shagbark Hickory, Shellbark Hickory, Northern Red Oak

  • haroldandcher17220_yahoo_com
    11 years ago

    "I was hoping for some suggestions that would give me a few ideas, or a direction. "

    You were given numerous suggestions, ideas and direction.

    Evidently you didn't like any of them. In light of the new information, it's clear that you're chickening out of planting anything substantial because you're afraid it will outgrow the space. But you have plenty of room there to plant large trees. Don't don't plant them as close to the building as the others were or use smaller trees there. Not everything in the landscape is going to last for an eternity. That's part of owning a home with an established landscape is that it will require renovation. Just the same as you would remove spent seasonal flowers, you will need to remove plantings that have outgrown their space or are unhealthy.
    You have a blank canvas as far as I can see. I assumed you had some common wants/needs/goals for the planting. Shade, beauty, privacy. Planting small, short-lived flowering trees are fine as part of the landscape but I don't think anyone here would suggest planting only that. And if you had problems with roots, I would highly suggest NOT planting birch. The trees being mentioned here, especially some of the medium sized trees like nyssa sylvatica are very low maintenance will live a long time and add tremendously to the empty yard.

  • greenthumbzdude
    11 years ago

    If you want to get an American Elm for that old fashioned look I would get the cultivar called "Princeton". It has the best form and has the best resistence against DED. I am actually getting one for my backyard this spring. I know the Botany Shop has them for a decent price.

  • Dan _Staley (5b Sunset 2B AHS 7)
    11 years ago

    What cheryl said.

    I've been avoiding these sorts of threads lately because 3-4-5 people jump in and start writing stuff before it is determined what the OP wants, then the thread is blown.

    For some reason, the OP doesn't want to shade their house. They must have retrofit the house and have something like R-25 walls and R-40 roof so they don't need the shade so save energy, which is commendable.

    Therefore, not needing shade, the OP apparently wants ornamentals and then some ideas on how to vary the height for visual interest. Certainly among the 40 choices given there is something in there, but perhaps the OP needs to pony up for a professional, as that is a lot of space to do something with. Choose the 'designer' carefully, as there are plenty out there that don't know jack.

    Be clear on your goals and aesthetics. Determine those first. Then start working on plants to fulfill those goals.

    Dan

  • haroldandcher17220_yahoo_com
    11 years ago

    That's right. There is nothing shameful about hiring a landscape designer.
    People that know I am into trees ask me what they should plant or want help. I quit trying to make suggestions. I just refer them to designers. I used to tell them to contact the county extension but that was until I found out they were advocating calleryana.
    I think most of the time people just want flowers. I will never understand it. Designers know how to put a colorful landscape though. I've found the best way to have a constant splash of color is to use shrubs. They tend to flower more reliably at more or less specific times and make it possible to set it up so there is always something blooming. Hydrangea, azalea, rhododendron, roses, sweetspire, just to name a few examples. I couldn't name that many flowering trees that I would rush to plant.

  • Dan _Staley (5b Sunset 2B AHS 7)
    11 years ago

    IME good designers clarify what the client wants, then translate those wants into form. Sometimes folks can express those wants, sometimes they need help. One of the first questions I used to ask was what do you remember about a garden from your childhood, and whose garden was it? If the face lights up and a smile comes, you're moving toward answers. No smiling, people want utilitarian stuff to blend in with the neighbors and the design is much easier.

    Dan

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
    11 years ago

    wow .... lol ....

    what was i thinking.. i forgot all about my insistence that the the OP .. biochem ... ID the pertinent issue ... lol ...

    sooo ... biochem... list 5 things you want to accomplish ...

    and we can go from there ....

    oh.. and i think there is a front septic issue involved in any tree placement .... never forget that issue ...

    good to see lou drop in and berate me .. and add nothing to that actual conversation ... we arent talking about peeps with small yards ...

    OP [original poster] .. the reason you are feeling overwhelmed.. is ... as noted.. you havent delineated where you want to go .. so you are having a hard time figuring out how to get there ... so lets start with figuring out the destination ...

    ken

  • biochem101
    Original Author
    11 years ago

    This has actually been more helpful than some of you seem to think. :)

    Even Harold has been helpful. I googled the Black Gum. Interesting.

    Azalea's were put out front and died back slowly (never thrived), too much shade. It's actually shady all the time right near the front of the house Dan, as I stated originally. Sun moves around the back. Where we also have too much shade. We have loads of hydrangea's in the back yard where it's much wetter. And rhododendrons on the side and back.

    So seeing all the suggestions for stuff I already have, I can now state more clearly that I was hoping for suggestions for something different. Something I had not thought of myself. Hard to do, I understand. But the Black Gum, and the Red Bud are different. I appreciate those.

    Dan, some people are also astronomers and do not want to block the night sky view by tall trees obscuring the stars. :) Short trees are okay. It's very hard to know how much information to give. I thought zone would be enough! LOL!

    Thank you everyone who responded. I will ponder your answers.

  • greenthumbzdude
    11 years ago

    You said you want something different. So, since you live in 6b you could try some hardy tropicals. Things like southern magnolia, needle palm, windmill palm, and basajoo banana. I am currently growing a needle palm and basajoo banana, they have survived the winter so far. I have read that they are hardy down to -20 degrees.

  • dsieber
    11 years ago

    greenthumbzdude's suggestion is very hardcore and adventerous!!!! Looking at your house a banana tree would be seriously out of place even if it survived!! Unless the legitimate question of a leach field is true, you have plenty of space to plant a "classic big tree" and shrubs for spring colour. Based on your past experience DO NOT put anything within 30 ft of the house unless you know the mature diameter. Go around your neighboorhood and check out tree's you like. If they are doing well for them they should be ok for you