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

Fast-growing tree for Houston
January 19, 2009 - Please suggest me fast growing tree like Eucalyptus for Zip 77099 to protect building with its shade. I understand Eucalyptus is not good for our area and is flammable. Any other with similar fast gro...
view the full question and answer

Oak Wilt in Georgetown, TX
November 17, 2014 - We have lost several live oaks to oak wilt. Another couple are dying but still have some green leaves. Is it OK to cut down these trees now or should we wait until they are entirely dead? I've heard ...
view the full question and answer

Double trunks on bur oaks in Houston
March 15, 2010 - I am involved in a garden club propagation project. One of the trees we have had success propagating is the Bur Oak. Two of these baby Bur Oaks have multi trunks..one has two and the other has three....
view the full question and answer

Saving a 350-year old Live Oak
March 14, 2015 - I live in Jefferson Parish outside New Orleans. I have a large Live Oak tree that is over 350 years old and has been damaged by Katrina. I have contacted one arborist and they said that the tree is st...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Eastern hemlock in Greenville SC
July 02, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a beautiful, young, 5 and a half foot tall Eastern Hemlock. I purchased and planted it two years ago in the fall. It has been doing very well all this spring. And ne...
view the full question and answer

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