Choice of ornamental tree in full sun in Rockville
Looking for a hardy tree which doesn't grow over 16 feet (or thereabouts); full sun . Any ground cover I could use under the tree or is mulch best?. It is to be planted in an area (an ellipse area) to show off the tree. Crepe Myrtle was suggested but can it survive our winters? Thank you
Crape myrtle can grow in Montgomery County. Especially in the cooler, more northern part, be sure you select one of the hardier varieties. Hardiness zones are on plant tags. A knowledgeable nursery, such as Behnkes, is also helpful in selecting good choices for your area.
Other options for highly ornamental small trees with several seasons of interest and whose fruit benefit wildlife: American dogwood, kousa dogwood (not native, Asian), crabapple (great for flower, fruit. Be sure to get one that is resistant to rust and scab disease), redbud.
Never plant any kind of ornamental pear (many problems, plus invasive.)
Ground cover is fine, but avoid English ivy like the plague. Periwinkle and pachysandra, though evergreen, will compete with the tree for water and nutrients. Also, not native.
If you use mulch, apply no deeper than 1-2" and never pile it on the trunk. (This applies to any trees or shrubs.)