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kellj72

Tree Suggestions Needed

Jack Kelleher
6 years ago

Hi, I'm a new member. I live on a cul de sac that has a green circle in the middle. The town has agreed to plant a tree of our choosing and we are trying to decide what to ask for. The criteria we have are these:

1. Max height 30 feet and at least 20 at maturity.

2. Prefer a non green leaf like Japanese Maple or other.

3 Single trunk so that it looks like a tree and not a bush. We want to be able to eventually have a bench under the tree.

4. Flowering would be nice but not essential.


We are in Connecticut but in the river valley so it doesn't get as cold here in the Winter as some areas do. So far I've come up with these ideas:

Japanese Maple, Eastern Redbud (Forest Pansy, Appalachian), Ruby Red Horse Chestnut, Saucer Magnolia and Crab Apple.

By the way the center of our circle gets only rain although we could do some watering as I think we will have to at first. Thanks for any ideas and suggestions. None of us involved are too knowledgeable on the subject of planting trees.

Comments (42)

  • mad_gallica (z5 Eastern NY)
    6 years ago

    Rethink the maximum height. For the northeast, 30 ft is a small tree, and you will be hard pressed to put a bench under those choices. There are magnolias and horse chestnuts that reach a decent size - say 50 ft. If you want colored foliage, copper beeches are worth looking at.

    Jack Kelleher thanked mad_gallica (z5 Eastern NY)
  • kentrees12
    6 years ago

    How big is the circle? Does it have a curb around it so snowplows won't use it to pile salt filled snow? Agree with above, if you want to sit beneath the tree anytime soon, you need something larger than 30'. Is there a reason for the ultimate height? Just about all your choices have some kind of issues, course there's no such thing as a perfect tree, redbud should be eliminated from your list due to short lifespan and disease issues, and hardiness issues for the colored-leaved forms in your climate, they are southern selections. Don't even think about ornamental pears, they self destruct in about 10 years.

    Jack Kelleher thanked kentrees12
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  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Sorry I forgot to mention the reason for the height restriction. There are power lines running about 25 ft above the circle and they are 10 feet off of the center of the green where the tree will be planted. The power company has gotten crazy around here cutting huge parts of any tree that threatens to hit a power line during a storm. If a limb overhangs the wires they will cut it.

  • corkball (z9 FL)
    6 years ago

    you are probably going to have road salt issues too, so salt tolerance might be a factor. You might try one of the star magnolias - there are lots of small ones that have a wide branching habit. I don't know of ones that have non-green leaves, but they are unusual looking - at least for CT. Serviceberry is also salt tolerant, but in my experience they don't really like beating direct sun. Any of the Aesculus you may also have issues with lots and lots of sun.

    There are also apples/crabs/cherries/plums/pear that might fill many of your requirements, but like redbud, you have shorter lifespan and the messiness.

    Jack Kelleher thanked corkball (z9 FL)
  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7
    6 years ago

    The power company SHOULD remove all limbs that overhang the power lines. Think about it for a little bit and you will know why.

    Do you really think that people will use the bench? I've seen lots of those kinds of awkward plantings and they often end up as a loss of real estate. It's a picturesque notion but perhaps a waste of space and money.


    Jack Kelleher thanked rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7
  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Kentrees12, Yes they do plow snow over the front of the grassy circle but most of the snow gets plowed away from the circle toward the driveways. As far as a loss of real estate, I'm not sure what that means. The circle of grass in the middle of the cul de sac will not be used for anything else and even if people don't sit on the bench it is more for the appearance of it than for the usefullness of it. I do agree that potentially dangerous branches over lines should be removed. I didn't mean to imply otherwise accept that in our case they seem to be overly aggressive on it. The actual circle of green grass is about 40 feet wide.

  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    The Star Magnolia is very pretty, I will add it to our list. It is a bit on the small side. We are hoping for something that can get up to 25 or 30 feet.

  • Logan L Johnson
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    What about a hibiscus syriacus. You can remove the lower limbs and it will grow into a nice small tree. You will have to find one that hasn't been butchered to do this with.

    Jack Kelleher thanked Logan L Johnson
  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
    6 years ago

    how about a pic to show us the situation ...


    ken

    Jack Kelleher thanked ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
  • kentrees12
    6 years ago

    If the star magnolia appeals to you, look into Magnolia loebneri, which in its unselected form looks like a star magnolia on steroids. It will grow faster and larger than the star magnolia, and should fit in your space. Most forms are white, and have some fragrance, and in my experience the blossoms are somewhat more frost hardy than stellata and saucer. If pink is more your style, look for 'Leonard Messel', it doesn't grow as large or fast as straight loebneri, but it is a choice magnolia, and is probably hard to find locally. The blossoms of 'Leonard Messel" will tolerate temps a little below 30 without damage. Whatever you choose, consider offsetting the tree from center, maybe 10' off the edge of the circle, thereby gaining a little headroom. If you are near Hartford, there should be a source for loebneri locally. Once in a while I see them at HD and L here (TN).

    Jack Kelleher thanked kentrees12
  • Sean Bankos
    6 years ago

    Personally would go with Princeton elm or red oak something grand and magnificent

    Jack Kelleher thanked Sean Bankos
  • Embothrium
    6 years ago

    Star magnolias grow over 20 ft. tall

    Jack Kelleher thanked Embothrium
  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Ok, I took a picture and I will be uploading it momentarily. Thanks for everyones help by the way.

  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Here it is! I guess we're waiting for the root squad to finish it up.

  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    There were about six extremely overgrown evergreen bushes there that hadn't been trimmed in 30 years. They were about 8 feet tall. Honestly, anything they plant will be a relief compared to what we had!

  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Here's the view coming into the circle. I should mention it's called Sycamore Circle. LOL We would like to do the obvious choice but the power company would slash it for sure.

  • Embothrium
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    For example a star magnolia in MA was 36 ft. tall in 1994 and another one in PA was 30 ft. tall in 1980. I've seen multiple different pink star magnolias in my area as tall as 28 ft. Like saucer magnolia these stand out from a distance when in flower.

    Lobner magnolias are known as tall as 45 ft.

    Due to the wires something comparatively low like the shrubs was probably the right way to go. Except you don't want to block driver visibility - in Seattle parking strip plantings with foliage below a certain height are verboten.

    As long as it didn't blight off the purple Japanese maple was probably your best idea, as these are often seen with a mushroom shape.

    Anything that pokes up toward the wires is going to produce a visual tension, even if it effectively never reaches them.

    Jack Kelleher thanked Embothrium
  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Here's a closer shot that shows the position of the power lines.

  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Also we have a minimum temperature of 0 Farenheit and a average temp of 10 Farenheit in January. Not exactly San Diego weather here.

  • Logan L Johnson
    6 years ago

    Also american fringe tree, zhou zhou loropetalum, or fastigiate oak.

    Jack Kelleher thanked Logan L Johnson
  • Mike McGarvey
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    It looks like a place where kids might hang out. Maybe the design should reflect that.

    Why not have each homeowner design and plant that part of the circle that faces them? I would have a rock garden with small growing conifers and appropriate groundcovers. :-)

    Mike

    Jack Kelleher thanked Mike McGarvey
  • Logan L Johnson
    6 years ago

    I would most likely go with a fastigiate oak, with loropetalums plated around it. then put a short fence in, no bench.

    Jack Kelleher thanked Logan L Johnson
  • edlincoln
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    No tree meets all of your criteria. Few trees that reach 20 feet stop at 40.

    I know that cultivar of Redbud has trouble handling the snow in part of New England...not sure about Connecticut.

    What about:

    Prunus virginiana 'Schubert', Purple Leaf plum, Crataegus crus-galli

    Dove Tree (Davidia involucrata) ?

    Jack Kelleher thanked edlincoln
  • Logan L Johnson
    6 years ago

    edlincoln, no just no. Fruit trees are terrible for landscaping because they are susceptible to many diseases. No tree will meet all of your criteria. You can slightly modify the growth pattern with certain things. large shrubs (forsythia, photinia, loropetalum, etc.) would also work well.

    Jack Kelleher thanked Logan L Johnson
  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Wow, I am overwhelmed with all the incredibly helpful ideas and knowledge that you all have offered. If anyone else wants to weigh in it's very much appreciated. I'm going to make a list of all the suggestions made here and share it with my neighbors and then I will post back with the results. The town said they can get us just about any tree we want but that remains to be seen. I will definitely post a picture of the final result and it should be interesting to see the comments.


    This is way more than I anticipated in terms of helpful ideas and it's exactly what we needed. We actually had a party to determine the type of tree but you guys are way more productive than we were... so many thanks to all of you. I will search every species that was mentioned here and hopefully the town will come through with their end of things!

  • mad_gallica (z5 Eastern NY)
    6 years ago

    When you are doing your research, forget anything that isn't listed as hardy to -10F, or zone 6 (they should mean the same thing). You don't want something like a tree to get established, then die off one winter because it was colder than average. I haven't run into someone from Connecticut yet who admits to being zone 7 :-)

    And Logan, I have 2 words for your black and white world - Bradford Pear. No I'm not at all recommending them, but they do blast a large hole in the idea that "Fruit trees are terrible for landscaping because they are susceptible to many diseases." So long as it is understood that the tree probably won't last more than 30 years, a purple leafed plum sounds like a good idea.

    Jack Kelleher thanked mad_gallica (z5 Eastern NY)
  • Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Make sure your selection is hardy to zone 6 or below (as suggested by MadGallica), ...so that would certainly disqualify Loropetalum and Photinia. I would listen more closely to those who are near your zone, as they have the best perspective on appropriate plants.

    Jack Kelleher thanked Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A
  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7
    6 years ago

    Jack, I see that little island as an opportunity; the possibilities are endless! But it's a tiny space.....seems a shame (in my humble opinion) to waste that little piece of real estate on something so useless and silly as a bench that won't be used.

    I'm of the same opinion that it will be challenging to come up with a tree that will fit your needs. Large shrubs, limbed up to a standard tree form are enormously useful for projects like this.

    Have you also considered incorporating colorful bulbs and perennials for a repeated and carefree performance of color and interest? In addition to your focal plant, I mean.

    Jack Kelleher thanked rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7
  • Embothrium
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    USDA zones are based on averages derived from specific periods of time so there are no absolute minimums that automatically associate with all locations mapped within each zone. What is more to the point is to base long-term plant selection on known lowest temperatures recorded locally - ideally on the planting site itself. For instance in my area after the 1990 winter people I talked to were claiming lows between 2F and 12F, all within the city limits of Seattle (and certainly all within the same USDA zoning).

    Note also that hardiness zones indicated by commercial or other sources are often apparently based on the common mistake that temperature spreads given for each USDA* zone indicate absolute lows. The result of this is them routinely being zoned too high, for instance a kind kills back at 0F so it gets zoned USDA 7. When in fact many USDA 7 locations will get well below 0F during colder winters - the 0F to 10F range is derived from an averaging of the minimum temperatures there, and does not show the full extent of readings. There will be winters with minimums above 10F and others that get below 0F.

    *Some references do not specify that they are using USDA zones, may or may not present their own map instead

    Jack Kelleher thanked Embothrium
  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    6 years ago

    Of the suggestions provided so far, the Japanese maple or the redbud make the most sense. Or possibly a crab apple. None of these are likely to exceed height restrictions any time soon, if at all. And they are suited to your zone (unlike several other, off-the-wall suggestions). I'd skip the bench idea also - it will not get used :-) Fill the area underneath with some low growing shrubs and groundcovers of your choice - evergreen preferably, as these generally have the least amount of maintenance associated with them. And since watering may be an issue in this circle, opt for those that won't need constant attention.

    FWIW, I'd take whatever comments Logan makes with a large grain of salt. His suggestions tend to be not zonally appropriate or often listed invasive species. And being a youngster, he just doesn't have the experience with a lot of different plant species. There are many, many disease resistant crab apples on the market that require no attention and that have very persistent or non-messy fruit production. They are a recommended 'street tree' choice in many areas of the country for this reason.

    Jack Kelleher thanked gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
  • Embothrium
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Crab-apples are a group where there has been a lot of selection - including selection for disease resistance - with hundreds of kinds having been named. Specimens seen around of certain older introductions with scab and other chronic problems are not the full extent of what is available. Good sources for tips on variety selection are the reports of regional trials conducted by USDA experiment stations and other such facilities.

    Jack Kelleher thanked Embothrium
  • cecily
    6 years ago

    We lived in CT for three years (military) and my favorite trees were the Japanese maples. The spring foliage color was outstanding and there was no summer crisping. I'd go with a JM and a few low junipers for winter interest.

    Jack Kelleher thanked cecily
  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Thanks folks, although I am still thinking Japanese Maple and Crabapple might be wise choices (due to several in my neighborhood that look fantastic) I have compiled a list of all the suggestions made here, just to be fair to everyone that took the time to respond. I am giving a copy to each of my neighbors in case they will do some research and I have mentioned that I will talk to them this weekend about their thoughts.


    This forum has been a great help in forcing me to think about factors I would have never considered. For I example I do think it gets below zero here even though the website say differently. As far as the bench goes I also think it will probably not get used but it has been offered and I think it might look good. It's in a backyard now so it won't be an added expense anyway. One neighbor with a beautiful garden is looking forward to planting some perennials and tulips in front by the lantern. So I'll get back with their response as soon as I have a talk with my neighbors.

  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Funny thing I should mention. The eight foot bushes that were just cut down were originally small evergreen bushes that they planted around a Spruce tree that was planted in the center about 50 years ago. When the Spruce died the evergreens took over and the town never took the time to trim them back.

  • edlincoln
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Design Note: You don't want two purple leaved plants. One pops, two just look too dark. There are red leaved crab apples and red leaved Japanese Maples but pick the green variety of one.

    Both can survive occasionally getting below zero.

    Jack Kelleher thanked edlincoln
  • Logan L Johnson
    6 years ago

    Don't use crabapple. too susceptible to pests and diseases. I like the idea of japanese maple. Maybe one of the smaller weeping mulberries?

    Jack Kelleher thanked Logan L Johnson
  • cecily
    6 years ago

    Evergreen shrubs come in different sizes :) I'm thinking of a couple of Japanese garden or Blue Pacific junipers. Both are prostrate forms with interesting color & form. They will stay below 3' with no pruning. There's a golden juniper also if you like yellow needles as a contrast. Perennials are a nice idea as well, so long as the generous gardener maintains them and doesn't get stressed when they are hit by the errant soccer ball (that looks like a great place for kids or grandkids to play).

    Jack Kelleher thanked cecily
  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Ok, they are out there getting ready to plant the new tree. They have tagged a White Redbud tree to plant later today. I just went out and asked them if they could try to pick one with the most reddish leaf color. I will post a photo later with the finished planting. Thanks for all the excellent input! I have a feeling they just took a look at their inventory and went from there. That's pretty much what I had expected. I'm sure this will work out beautifully and it may be a start for having the town take care of this piece of land. Up until now I have been sharing the mowing responsibility with another neighbor as well as an occasional attempt at trimming the bushes. They told me they will be responsible for watering the new tree for the first year so we'll see.

  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Looks like it will be tomorrow!

  • Jack Kelleher
    Original Author
    6 years ago

    Sorry it took so long to post this picture. It is a white RedBud that they selected. I regret that it wasn't a Japanese Maple but now I'm planning to put one of those in my front yard anyway. Thanks again for everyone's thoughts and help.

  • Logan L Johnson
    6 years ago

    I think you will be pleased, 'Royal White' redbud is a beautiful tree.