Ornamental trees

Asked July 2, 2018, 9:19 PM EDT

I am re-landscaping my front yard. It is roughly 45 feet north/south and 55 feet east/west. It has major southern exposure (full sun all day). I want to plant three flowering/ornamental trees that don't get huge. I have found the Japanese lilac tree, Tatarian Hot wings maple, Russian hawthorn and Eastern Redbud. Do any of these trees sucker? Will they be really messy with there fruit/pods/sanoma's or etc? What would you recommend out of these four or others not mentioned that you think would be ideal? They will be in wood mulch and edging. Outside the edging will be rock (most of the front yard). They will all be on a drip line for watering.

Larimer County Colorado

1 Response

It looks like you have done some research homework on small, flowering and ornamental trees for the Front Range. All of these trees are on the "A" list (Generally Recommended) in the Front Range Tree Recommendation List. Your questions concerning suckering and messiness are good ones to ask. First of all, the Japanese Tree Lilac (Syringa reticulata) does sucker somewhat, however, not as badly as other lilacs, and has lovely scented blooms that appear in May / June. Tatarian Maple 'Hot Wings" (Acer tataricum 'Hot Wings' , has a good yellow to orange fall color. The attractive feature of the red "wings" (samaras or seeds), can also be a negative, as it DOES reseed itself around, quite a bit. Russian Hawthorne ( Crataegus ambigua) has beautiful bark, nice white flowers (although not fragrant; actually a little stinky) in April / May and red fruit. It will seed / sucker somewhat. Plant Select calls it a gem, and says that the Russian Hawthorne is underutilized in landscapes here. Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is one of my favorites, with the pretty rosy-pink flowers appearing before the leaves in March / April. Some of the cultivars have deep burgundy leaves ('Forest Pansy') and others have either green, yellow, or variegated leaves. They will take full sun to part-shade, but in their native habitat they grow quite often in woodland situations. I would recommend that if you choose to plant an Eastern Redbud in your southern exposure yard, make sure it stays adequately watered, but not wet. Another tree worth considering for its ornamental value is either Saskatoon or Shadblow Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia and Amelanchier canadensis). They are both best used as a multi-stemmed large shrub or small tree, but both produce white flowers in springtime, followed by edible blueberry-like fruit, and yellow-to-red fall leaf color. They can sucker.
Your plan to mulch your trees is good, just ensure that you keep the mulch about 6" away from the trunks to prevent the bark getting too moist and inviting insects, rodents and diseases. Don't put the edging around the trees, or if you do, don't put it too deeply, to avoid restricting their root growth. Here is a link to a Garden Notes for steps to take in order to properly plant a tree: cmg.colostate.edu/Gardennotes/636.pdf
and care of recently planted trees:
Best of luck with your new landscape, and if you have further questions, you can also speak with a master gardener in the Extension office on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays, from 10 am to 1 pm, during the summer and into fall. The phone number is 970-498-6000.