Shade tree with non-invasive roots

alabamanicole(7b)April 28, 2007

I just had to take down a gorgeous maple tree which was growing too close to the house and sending roots up under the foundation. (Actually, the tree was there first; the people that built the house built it too close to the tree!)

Unfortunately, this was a great shade tree on my western exposure. Can anyone recommend some fast-growing shade trees with non-invasive roots for the North/central Alabama area?

I have fertile but fairly heavy clay soil. It's going to get some intense afternoon sun and winter winds. The tree (or trees) will be located between the house and some power lines, so it should be relatively short (25-30') or else have a fairly narrow crown -- something that forms a tall hedge?

I do also have some sambucus I was going to put down by the pond where it is wetter and more like a natural habitat -- does anyone think they would fit the bill?

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Rusty Blackhaw Viburnum makes a nice small tree when they're limbed up. Serviceberry, Flatwoods plum, and "Natchez" crape myrtle would also work.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 11:08AM
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Thank you for those suggestions; I would probably not have run across anything except the crepe myrtle just randomly searching. Either the flatwoods plum or serviceberry sounds like a good choice for the area, pending further research.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 12:31PM
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one of my favorite small, flowering trees is our native fringe tree, chionanthus virginicus.
it is deciduous and blooms for about 10-14 days in mid-to-late spring with airy, fragrant clusters of flowers, followed by dark blue drupes in fall.
for a tall screen, some hollies would work. you get the screen effect and winter berries which some birds will feed on.
i have an oakleaf holly that is supposed to grow to about 12' but there are others that will get taller; 'mary nell', 'burfordii', 'nellie r. stevens' and 'savannah' are some to consider.
you can also trim the lower limbs of these to give a more tree-like form.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 1:58PM
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I should have added the hawthorns as well. Washington Hawthorn, Parsley Hawthorn, and Mayhaw, they're all good small trees.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 7:32PM
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Do Hawthorn flowers smell as bad as everyone says?

I was considering Mayhaw down by the pond as well, since it seems to like wetter conditions. But I suspect my clay soil and high water table might suffice. And on one hand, it gets a bit tall -- on the other hand it grows slow, but maybe too slow to provide good shade anytime soon.

I think deciduous is the way to go, that way I can collect some late afternoon sun warmth during the winter.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 8:47PM
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Unfortunately any "real tree" will send roots under your foundation if it is planted too close. The problem with most of us is we like trees and we plant too many on very small lots and thus, the problem. I sure hate you had to take down a maple, but it happens.

Try another maple farther away from the house?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 3:14AM
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I have another maple away from the house, as well as a "silver-leaf maple" which as far as I can tell is actually some kind of poplar. And many other trees. But nothing on the west side to help shade the house.

At this point, I am thinking a tall hedge (8' or so) a few feet from the house might provide the best shade, all things considered. A 20' tree isn't going to be much shade except in the very late afternoon. And the windows are high enough that with a little strategic placement, I won't lose the view, either. It has to be hardy, tolerant heat and be nitrogen fixing because of this huge stump that will be decaying for years and years. Maybe highbush cranberry, but it might be too hot. Or the Juneberry Amelanchier anifolia, which only grows to about 6'... but that's a bit too small.

Crepe Myrtle is an option, too, but I don't really care for them.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 9:10AM
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