Shade tree options

Q: I’m wanting to plant a tree in our front yard, which is complete shade. I would like to plant it right next to the house but am worried about it going into the foundation.

I would like to plant a pink dogwood or a birch tree. Would either of these work or can you recommend any others trees to plant beside maples? My husband and I don’t want a tree that will grow into something huge, just medium sized.

“Pink Dogwood” (Cornus florida cv.) is possible near the foundation, but I am concerned about fungal diseases during a wet spring.

I am not sure what you define as “medium height,” but I will assume it means anywhere from 10 to 25 feet. As a rule of thumb, the height of the plant will usually correspond to the diameter of the canopy. The roots could spread twice as wide as the actually plant canopy. All the suggested plant selections should not have any destructive root system.

Here are some suggestions:

  • ‘Vine Maple’ (Acer circinatum) – native, grows to 10 to 20 feet, yellow-orange to red fall colour. 
  • ‘Service’ or ‘Saskatoon Berry’ (Amelanchier cv.) – variable in height 15 to 25 feet, white spring fls., edible dark fruit and nice fall colour. Can be susceptible to diseases, e.g. rust. 
  • ‘Witch Hazel’ (Hamamelis cv.) – slow growing to 10 to 20 feet, variable fragrant flowers in winter, and some with nice fall colour. 
  • ‘Cornelian cherry Dogwood’ (Cornus mas) – early yellow flowers, variable fall colour, and somewhat edible red fruit.

I would suggest planting a type of “Pee Gee Hydrangea Tree” (Hydrangea paniculata cv.). There are many different cultivars available on the marketplace, e.g. ‘Kyushu’, ‘Pink Diamond’, ‘Tardiva’, or others. Dried flowers keeps interest well late into the season. Generally the plant is
pest free. Can be pruned to shape during the dormant season. Ensure the plant is well-mulched and keep the soil moist during the growing season.