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Monday - September 21, 2009

From: Fairfax, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Trees
Title: Small native flowering tree for Virginia
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Could you recommend a small flowering tree (8-10' mature size) to plant in front garden next to the house. Full sun. Something that doesn't have invasive roots that would damage the house. Thanks Sheila


Mr. Smarty Plants recommends that you go to our Recommended Species page and choose Virginia from the map or pulldown menu.  This will give you a list of native plants that are commercially available and are recommended for landscaping in Virginia.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to add your preferences for General Appearance, Light Requirement, Soil Moisture, etc.  Here are a few from that list that would meet your criteria pretty well:

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Robinia hispida (bristly locust)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

Viburnum dentatum (southern arrowwood)

Here are a few that are a little taller than your stated preference:

Amelanchier canadensis (Canadian serviceberry)

Asimina triloba (pawpaw)

Prunus americana (American plum)

Ptelea trifoliata (common hoptree)

Sorbus americana (American mountain ash)

It will matter how close your tree is planted to your house as to whether or not the roots will harm your foundation.  You can read the recommendations from Iowa State University Extension Service for Sidewalks and Trees which bases the distance trees should be planted near pavement on the mature height of the tree. Their recommendations are:

1. trees with a mature height of less than 30 feet, 3-4 feet from pavement,
2. trees with a mature height of 30 to 50 feet, 5-6 feet from pavement,
3. trees with a mature height of greater than 50 feet, at least 8 feet from pavement.

You could consider installing some sort of root barrier between the tree and the foundation.  Here is more information about root barriers.

Morella cerifera

Elymus canadensis

Robinia hispida

Rhus glabra

Viburnum dentatum

Amelanchier canadensis

Asimina triloba

Prunus americana

Ptelea trifoliata

Sorbus americana



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