What trees are small enough to mature in the typical yard space, have low water needs and have full season beauty?
Our Native Vine Maple is Tried and True
Select a new variety of native vine maple, Acer circinatum, like Pacific Fire with scarlet red winter twigs. It is attractive in partial shade to dappled sun but the best effects of color, both twig and fall leaf color occur in half day sun. It can be grown in full sun but this will probably spoil the foliage with leaf scorch. Plant it in morning sun with dappled afternoon shade for best results. Matures at 15′ to 20′.
Seven Sons Flower is Great for a Tough Spot
Here’s a tree for a hell strip! Seven Sons Flower, or Heptacodium miconioides, is great for full sun and less than great soil. You can buy it as a standard, or single trunk tree, which will fit in your parking strip nicely. Or buy the low multi-branched form (pictured) for placement in the landscape. It flowers in late summer and holds the color of the flower into late fall so you don’t miss out on fall color either even it if isn’t the leaves that glow red; 20′ at maturity.
Use Phoenix Snake Bark Maple for Something New
Here is the newest darling tree Acer conspicuum ‘Phoenix’, or Snake Bark Maple. It needs regular watering, less after a few years have gone by but is not drought tolerant. Amazing twig color and the bark’s dramatic color show just gets better and better as the tree matures. Like all maples, plant up on a mound if you have heavy clay soil. Good drainage is the key to longevity.
Use Crape Myrtle for Four-Season Interest
My favorite Crape Myrtle, or Lagerstromia, is ‘Tuskegee’, maturing at 15′. These trees need to be planted in well drained soil or up on a mound. Don’t plant this tree with an east wind exposure. Best in full sun or 3/4 day sun. Winter bark, wow fall color, hot red orange summer flowers, with low summer water needs. Another great variety that is easier to find is Tuscarora, or Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Tuscarora’.