Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - July 20, 2012

From: Washington, DC
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Lists, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Small Yard Tree for Washington DC
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

What do you suggest for a tree or shrub in my front yard? The yard is small; 9 ft x 12 ft. Thank you.

ANSWER:

  That's a tough one, but mostly because you haven't told us much of the place or the yard, other than its size.

 I use the "Recommended Species" lists to make recommendations.  The link is to the recommended species for Washington DC.  These lists are sortable, so when I select  "6-12" and "12-36" feet high, that still gives me a list of 43 possible trees or shrubs for your place.

I'm imagining you would want something in the 10-20 ft range and maybe some colorful aspect in the leaves or fruit to give it a seasonal highlight.  My list follows, but you could select your own by sorting the recommended species and applying your own preferences:

Asimina triloba (Pawpaw)
Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)
Hydrangea arborescens (Wild hydrangea) would just fit nicely if you want a smaller shrub
Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)
Sumac family: Rhus glabra (Smooth sumac), Rhus copallinum (Winged sumac), Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac)
Rhododendron family:  Rhododendron prinophyllum (Early azalea), Rhododendron maximum (Great laurel), Rhododendron catawbiense (Catawba rosebay), Rhododendron calendulaceum (Flame azalea)
Rhus typhina (Staghorn sumac)
Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis (Common elderberry)
Viburnum rufidulum (Rusty blackhaw viburnum)

 

From the Image Gallery


Pawpaw
Asimina triloba

Eastern redbud
Cercis canadensis

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Smooth sumac
Rhus glabra

Catawba rosebay
Rhododendron catawbiense

Staghorn sumac
Rhus typhina

Staghorn sumac
Rhus typhina

Common elderberry
Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis

Rusty blackhaw viburnum
Viburnum rufidulum

More Trees Questions

Water-loving evergreen for Chicago
April 21, 2008 - Is there a water loving evergreen that will do well in the Chicago weather?
view the full question and answer

Is December a good time to prune oaks in Central Texas?
December 29, 2010 - Given that we haven't had much cold weather here in central Texas (Wimberley) this season, is it a good time to trim live and Spanish oak trees (damaged limbs and low hanging branches and suckers)? ...
view the full question and answer

Brown circular ring in trimmed branches of redbud tree
January 22, 2009 - I have a redbud tree that was recently trimed back. When looking at the cross section of the branches, I noticed a brown circular ring. Is this a problem and if so what can I do to correct it?
view the full question and answer

Diagnosis of problem with Parsley hawthorn
August 06, 2007 - I have a Crataegus marshallii (Parsley hawthorn) that is about 3 years old. It leafed out this spring and flowered lightly. As the summer has progressed, though, the leaves have been dropping premat...
view the full question and answer

Use of fresh clippings from tree trimmers for mulch in Austin
May 02, 2010 - Hi, The tree trimmers are in my neighborhood (east central Austin) to clear the power lines and said I can have a load of free mulch. I am wondering if there is any harm in using the fresh mulch from...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.