Shade tree recommendations

Asked October 8, 2018, 4:38 PM EDT

We are looking to replace a shade tree in our front yard and would like recommendations. Would prefer one that is disease and insect resistant (especially related to Japanese Beetle). We would also like to try and stay away from trees with a shallow root system. We have heard good things about the Honey Locust, Kentucky Coffeetree, and State Street Maple. Thank you in advance!

Washington County Minnesota

1 Response

Thank you for the question. Kentucky coffee tree and thornless honey locust would be good options if you have good, full sun conditions in your front yard, and the space for trees that get very large in height and width at maturity. Maple trees of many varieties have been over planted. This is a problem especially if a specific disease or insect begins to attack maples. Then we will be facing problems similar to emerald ash borer of ash trees and Dutch elm disease of elms. No tree is completely free of disease or insect problems and the best defense is a healthy, properly planted and cared for tree, no matter the variety.
Tree preference is different from person to person so I recommend you look through Extension's spreadsheets listing many different deciduous and conifer trees:
The spreadsheets are separated into the categories "Recommended" "Trees to try" and "Trees of limited use". For many of them, there are good notes, and for all of them, proper growing conditions and descriptions are listed.
Here is a great article from the StarTribune with advice on good trees to plant:

Although trees are generally divided into two groups by root type—tap root trees (such as oaks, hickory, walnut, conifers) and lateral, or fibrous, root trees (maples, ash, cottonwood)—this distinction is most evident as seedlings or saplings. Once the tree is planted and begins to mature, the distinctions between the root types become less pronounced. Then, the depth and lateral reach of the roots is greatly dependent on the soil condition. Highly compacted soils, soils with low oxygen content and soils where the water table is near the surface are not likely to produce a strong tap root. Their roots are more likely to be lateral and located very near the surface with the majority of the roots located in the top 12 inches of soil. Also, it is important to realize that the spread of the roots can be at least 2 to 4 times greater than the drip line of the branches (from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildfower Center) It is very important to make sure that you have the room for the tree above and below the ground.

Thank you for contacting Extension.