In school we were taught lollipop sized trees weren't appropriate as street trees. And yet the project I'm working on (see images) is too restricted for anything but lollipops. So I'm looking for suggestions for species. Here are the particulars:

  • USDA Zone 6a (recently adjusted upward from 5 apparently due to global warming)
  • full sun
  • location can be subject to windy conditions
  • xeric species preferred
  • narrow sidewalk (about 6' wide) with power lines overhead at 20'
  • limited root zone area 
  • trees should be high-branching otherwise they'll obscure a new wall mural
  • must be deciduous
  • existing ornamental plums shown in images will be replaced



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Wow, very narrow. What about a Pyrus calleryana, either a 'Red Spire' or 'Chanticleer'. They get a little taller than 20', but they can be pruned to keep a 20' height.

Good luck with this.

Hello Mark;

Here are a few suggestions.....(Zone 5).....but, you'll need to research each of them to see which trees might work for your design situation.

*Bald Cypress

*Red Maple

*Cherry "Kanzan" or "Yoshinio"

*Crabapple (many varieties)

*Poplar 'Lomardy'

*Dogwood "Corusa'


*Willow Oak

Some of the above suggested trees may get too "tall" for the power line issue.

Good Luck!

J. Robert Wainner

Have you considered any top grafted trees like Prunus subhitella 'pendula' that will give you your trunk size, stem height, and have limited vertical growth?

The restriction on height matched with the narrow space, limited root zone and high branching translates into doomed trees that may well be butchered until they die. (Is that too up-beat?)

Also, if the area has been Zone 5 then I wouldn't be so quick to plan on Zone 6a trees (except these poor things won't have a long life anyway)

There are relatively few species that will do what you need without regular serious tree-killing maintenance,

Consider Zelkova 'Wireless'

Difficult to locate, though

Cherries also make sense but not weeping ones (too wide spreading and regular trimming up to open view underneath and get branches out of people's faces)

Brutal restrictions there. Even without the limited rooting area, it seems like the powerlines and the mural are leaving you with a pretty limited range of options. High-branching *and* under 20' is almost an oxymoron. Could this be a situation where trees just don't make any sense at all?


If the client is insisting on trees, maybe a columnar crab, like Purple Spire or Dreamweaver.

Thanks all!


Is the limited root room a given?

Can the paving be replaced to make way for structural soil beneath?

How about Ginkgo biloba 'Fastigiata'.

It strikes me that planting trees that "want" to be 50' tall and taller under a 20' line is bad horticulture and bad design.

thanks for the snooty crit Rob.

Not intended as snooty, Henry. But this is a site that ought not to have street trees. It is a difficult position for the designer to be in, but they will not work here. And frankly not a single species named by any of us (including myself) suits this site, IMO

thanks for the clarification Rob. I rescind my snooty comment.


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