Hello! I am new to gardening, a first time homeowner and am seeking advice on a tree to put in our front tiny narrow lawn- to add some curb appeal and some privacy (once the tree is mature). It is about 1.5-2.5feet by 6ft. It is facing north, but gets very sunny and hot in the summer, since there’s not much shade except the houses themselves. Since the narrow patch of grass borders our narrow driveway, I am looking for an upright tree that won’t be too short (so no issues getting out of the car, once the tree matures), but also won’t cause buckling in the driveway.
I really love Japanese maple but prefer the brighter cookies – I don’t love the burgundy foliage as much.
Any advice appreciated!!
Hello! Thank you for your question and the very helpful picture. You do indeed have a Very Narrow space to work with and there are a lot of things to consider when planting a tree. You mention the amount of sun, which will require diligent watering when the tree is young. Other things to think about are: how fast do you want it grow? how much mess do you want to deal with? do your neighbors have an opinion about this that you should consider? what kind of soil do you have in your area? are there power lines overhead?
Obviously, the bigger the tree the larger the network of roots is likely to be. Some basic facts on this are available at:
However, there are a number of interesting possibilities you might consider, for instance: columnar purple beech (but this gets into the burgandy shades that you don’t care for), columnar oak, pyramidal English oak (I like this shape for your space), Eastern Redbud (cercis canadensis) (known for non-invasive roots and a native tree), ornamental pears, and various dwarf lilac trees. You can find pictures of all these online. You can also consider an evergreen conifer tree — they are reliably tall and narrow, and can be interesting shapes, but of course they would never provide a canopy with clear ground below. Here are a few more possibilities that might be new to you:
Regarding the Japanese maples that you like, there are many dozens of sizes, shapes, and colours to choose from, but taller ones (up to 8′) tend to be a little wider too, and they are fairly slow growing — one or two feet per year — and they respond well to pruning. You can view a variety of types at
Lastly, here are two other articles/guides from the Toronto Master Gardeners website which will be useful as you embark on this adventure! Of course most large nursery suppliers will deliver and plant your tree for you. Don’t forget that the front-most part of properties like yours (as far as I can tell from the picture) are technically city property. Also be sure to consult Ontario One Call before you dig to make sure you don’t disturb buried infrastructure, e.g. gas lines. I hope I haven’t discouraged you with all this information! Just pick a tree you like and go for it! Trees provide cooling shade, clean the air, catch and stop pollution from the street, and provide daily beauty in our lives.