Can you suggest some small to medium shade trees to plant between two houses?

Asked August 18, 2014, 7:56 PM EDT

I am hoping for advice on selecting a small to medium shade tree for a location between two houses. The two houses are each one-story bungalows in South Minneapolis. They are about 15 to 18 feet apart from each other. There were previously two full-size black locust trees, which had to be removed because they had become hazardous. There is a native woodland perennial garden that was thriving in the soft shade cast by the black locust trees, and which is now struggling in the full sunlight. I would like to find a tree that would offer shade for the garden, but which will not get so large as to become hazardous to the houses. It will need to be big enough to offer passage underneath and ideally would provide some shade to the house to the north. The site is well-drained, sandy loam. Some trees that look promising are narrow maple cultivars (although I am a bit concerned that they will steal too much moisture or cast too dense a shade), dogwoods, or crabapples.

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

Crabapples and dogwoods are good choices. Remember that crabapples need sun to bloom fully. The space between the houses is quite small, so no tree at all would be a reasonable choice. Also, whatever tree you plant will not provide shade immediately; your struggling woodland garden will continue to struggle. Other trees to consider are small magnolias, serviceberry, or other small fruit trees. Here are a couple of references to help you:

I also recommend a trip to the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. You will find many trees that fit your space on display there.