Edible Shade?

mintgum(5)April 29, 2009

I'm looking for a large shade tree to take the bake off the west side of our house. Having my bedroom window west facing, it runs about 5-10 degrees higher than the rest of the house!

Anyway, we have a large yard and a two story house so a large tree would be fine. I'm not too concerned about being shaded quick, though I wouldn't complain... We have cold zone 5 winters, but dry hot summers and clay soils.

I would like to have an edible tree of some sort, but wonder which would cause the fewest issues. Coming from people who don't have a crab apple to avoid messy fruit dropping, and occasionally curse the city for planting ornamental plumbs above the sidewalk, this is a steep order. I'm willing to do some extra raking or care if it will be reasonably successful.

Chestnuts - Drop spiky nut casings. How dangerous can these be? Dogs and children present. Might require pollination?

Walnut - Black walnut is out as it will be close to our pond and garden and may cause toxicity issues. Would and English or American walnut work as it produces less?

Mulberry - Drops staining fruit and creates staining bird poo, I read. Is this much of a problem? Is it too weedy? Even on poor somewhat dry soil? Pruning to a tree might require a lot of attention.

Almond and filbert - A bit too short I think...

My alternative will probably be a maple, but I'd love something edible as long as we will still be able to use the shade. I'm leaning toward walnut if it wont kill my frog pond, or fail to survive the setting.

Any insights welcome!

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mudflapper

I really wish I could help... but everything I can think of is either too short or not hardy enough for z5, I hope someone has useful information for you.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 12:25AM
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catlady4444(7)

Maybe Serviceberry? Some varieties get pretty big...

Ann

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 9:31PM
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kitten_20_20

We love our mulberry tree. It has very nice shade and the fruit from it is so good. I can't begin to tell you how great the fruit is. It is almost better then a raspberry. The bird mess is no worse then others. I had a white car and I never had a problem with staining. We have a sandy dirt and it thrives in.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 4:19PM
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mindiloohoo

I'll be honest about the mulberry tree: I hate ours. All 5 big ones, and 300 little ones. It appears that about 20 years ago, someone planted a mulberry tree. That someone then became elderly, and could no longer keep up with the back yard. Mulberry trees began popping up all along the fence line, and there was no one to pull them up. Then the house was sold to someone who didn't do anything in the yard. By the time I moved in, the whole perimeter of the yard was ringed with mulberries. The berries on ours aren't even very tasty.

One tree would be kind of cool, especially if the fruit tasted good. A million are not good. My dog's paws were purple from June to September last year.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 12:20AM
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mootube(UK 9 - 8b)

I'd go for Toona sinensis, hardy to zone 5. It's a tree vegetable said to taste like onion, I think one of the four most popular chinese vegetables. I tried a tiny leaf earlier today from my new plant. It resembles onion but has a deep 'oriental stir fry' kind of taste to it. Quite appealing and I can see me enhjoying it in quantity. Others that come to mind are Celtis occidentalis or a good fruiting Mespilus, Sorbus or Pinus.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 7:44AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

What about European pears? You pick them before they are fully ripe, so there is less fruit drop. Pears do better in heavy soil than most fruit trees. If you grow them tall, though, you need a way to pick the fruit, The rootstock will affect the rate of growth, so study up.

You might think about planting two or three upright trees instead of one big tree. You could keep the trees just far enough from the house so that at their mature size they just clear the building, for more shade.

Raintree has some nice varieties of pears, including small-fruited types and very early types. Also look through their index of edible landscaping plants. I also think of cherries, but they attract birds. Maybe you could plant a smaller red cherry tree for the birds and a big pale-fruited tree for shade.

I think English walnuts have messiness issues due to aphids and honeydew. Worth checking into. You may need two varieties for cross-pollination unless there are others in your neighborhood. There are allergy issues, too. They make a lot of wind-borne pollen.

You may also be able to find a hazelnut relative which is tall and tree-like. Most make small nuts. They also require cross-pollination.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 10:47AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

An alternative idea might be to plant a deep-rooted tree which leafs out late and doesn't make too dense a shade, and then plant edibles under it. Celtis comes to mind if you don't have those new wooly aphids which have established themselves in California.

Some Lindens produce blossoms used in tea, I think. But honeydew could be a problem.

Maybe under a non-aggressive shade tree you could have a bed of greens nestled against the house in fall and spring. Maybe even a little cold frame: put hardware cloth beneath to soil to keep out rodents, and sturdy landscaping fabric to keep out tree roots). With insulated sides and a heating cable, you could have some winter greens, too.

Other ideas for planting under high shade include strawberries and currants.

Picking a tree and placing it the right distance from the house would be important. The Sunset Western Garden Book has lists of trees which aren't too messy, don't have really aggressive roots, etc. for patios and gardens. I imagine their National book does, too. They also have produced software to help people pick trees.

And there's always the Tree Forum here on Garden Web.

Here is a link that might be useful: tree forum

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 2:24PM
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tasymo

If you are thinking Maple, how about a Sugar Maple for the syrup?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 11:04PM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Sugar maples are pretty, but unless you're willing to set up a Sugar Shack, I think getting syrup from them is a very messy business. Labor-intensive, too.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 12:45PM
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poetinwood

then there is the large fruiting tree you don't have to climb to get fruit:
Pecan.
When it eventually dies your great great grand chilren can cut it down and furnish the house with furniture made from the wood.
I don't believe it will grow in a true zone 5 though.
all members of the walnut family are toxic. You can fish with it!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 8:52PM
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solanaceae

I would like to throw in Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) as a contender. Its an eastern US native, wild and not an over bred disease ridden nuisance. It has lots of edible fruit that will tend to stay on the bush if the birds don't get them. . I just planted 2 bushes for these reasons as well as the part shade. I decided to go with native wild edibles like Serviceberry,and Viburnums Lentago, Prunifolia and high bush cranberries where my problem will be beating the birds rather than the rotting fruit often seen under big apple trees. The only one I have with this threat in the back yard are the Pawpaws.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 5:31PM
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platy(z6 KY)

How about a hickory tree? Just as tasty as pecans and more hardy I believe. They love it here in zone 6 anyway.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 11:24PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

What about apples? I consider them the least trouble and best yields of all my fruit trees. I particularly like Liberty and Freedom. I have ground cover Comfrey, Symphytum grandiflorum, under my fruit trees and it is easy to find fruit in it but it suppresses weeds and keeps it looking neat.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 3:17AM
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jessicavanderhoff(7 Md)

We had mulberries as a kid, and the tree made an enormous mess. Stained feet all during mulberry season, and they don't even taste that good. If the tree will be in a well-traveled part of the yard, I'd vote against it. I have just the opposite memory of a chestnut tree-- really fun to pick. They are prickly, and you wouldn't want to walk barefoot.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 4:38PM
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picea(6A Cinci- Oh)

American Persimmon would work. There are selected varieties like Prok and Yates that have large fruit and the trees will get large over time. The only problem is that most selected cultivars are only available through mail order. Edible Landscaping may have larger sizes available. Their website may also give you some other ideas.
David

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 10:27PM
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kipoley(z5b MI)

I am zone 5 also. Ginkgo, Paw Paw, come to mind. We had mulberry and cherry at the last house. The cherry drove me nuts from bird poo. The good news though they were so full of cherries they left my yard and forgot about the mulberry a week later when it had fruit. If you had given me a chainsaw I would cut them both down. My new house has a hickory tree that so far I don't mind.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 7:11AM
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oklahawg(NE OK z6-7)

That's a tough order - neat, fruit-bearing, and heavy on shade.

Its compounded by the fact that a tree safe enough to grow close enough to provide shade in the next 10 years may not have durable enough wood to withstand wind/ice storms. This is a big issue to those of us in OK who've had two major ice storms in the past two years.

Bradford Pears? *Snort* folks down the block had to cut down 4 that were destroyed. They grow quickly, though.

My paw paw made it through the OK summers the first 2 years and are now hardy as can be! The bigger tree is near 20 feet and its not even 10 years old. Fruit is manageable. I have to help with pollination so you can control the amount of fruit (and also NOT pollinate the first few years to assist with growth).

If you avoid dwarf rootstock some apples will get rather large.

I might just opt for a nice maple to achieve quick shade (relatively speaking) and then plan understory shrubs or small plants that provide you with some edibles.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 10:37PM
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Audrey(z3MN)

As a stopgap while you are waiting for your tree to grow, you might consider scarlet runner beans. When we lived in San Diego, I used them to shade a west wall. I just ran string between the ground and eves and planted the beans thickly. Not only did they give good shade, but the beans are edible as green beans if you pick them young. Any that get too large can be used as shell beans, and dry beans can be used in soups and such. The vines will go to twelve feet or more.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 9:15PM
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burntplants(8/9TX)

Do Pecans grow up in zone 5?
That was the first tree I thought of if you lived near me!

My grandparents in Ohio had Cherry trees. The fruit was yummy and the trees were gorgeous. Can't grow them anywhere near where I live, but I think that anyone lucky enough to live where they can be grow should take advantage of that and plant a bunch!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 10:56PM
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