Alaskan cedar tree

This is a nice example of a ‘Van den Akker’ weeping Alaskan cedar in the WSU Master Gardener’s Community Education Garden in Wenatchee.

One of landscapes’ major headaches is a hulking-big tree overpowering a small area. You don’t want to cut it down, yet it’s entirely out of character with the area, say nothing of causing problems. The smart way is to study mature tree sizes and then select ones that fit within that space before planting.

That means looking at the data beyond the 10-year tree size; most trees haven’t reached their mature height and width by then. Go for maturity.

With smaller homesites, there’s limited space for trees and shrubs, yet they’re so important aesthetically.

Paula Dinius, WSU Extension horticulturist for Chelan/Douglas counties, pointed me to a WSU publication — “Ornamental Trees for Narrow Spaces” — that provides several tree ideas, both conifers and deciduous, to solve this problem. Go online at to download and view or copy for yourself.

Other helpful sources for tree website information include J. F. Schmidt and Son Co. (Oregon wholesale tree growers) and American Conifer Society.

“It’s important to select the right tree for the right place,” says Dinius, “There are so many great cultivars with various characteristics including size, shape, flowering and fall colors to choose from, that you should be able to find trees you like that fit your site.”

Looking through these websites as well as Dinius’ suggestions, here are a few to consider, including height and width information the best I can research at maturity:

Deciduous trees

  • Acer rubrum ‘Bowhall’ maple; 40’ x 15’, upright and very narrow, with nice orange fall color.
  • Tilia cordata ‘Halka’ Summer Sprite linden; 20’ x 15’, rounded, pyramidal shape with yellow fall colors.
  • Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’; 10’ x 10’, rounded, upright shrub with white flowers and yellow/bronze fall foliage.
  • Parrotia persica ‘Persian Spire’ 25 x 10’; columnar, with lots of fall color, or ‘Vanessa’ 28’x14’, upright, orange-red fall color.
  • Rhamnus frangula Fern Leaf Fine Line® buckthorn; 5-7’ x 2-3’, a nice little deciduous tree for screening or in a small yard.
  • Styrax japonicus ‘Evening Light’ snowbell; 15’ x 10’, upright, spring white flowers and deep purple foliage.
  • Syringa reticulata ‘Ivory Silk’ Japanese tree lilac; 20’ x 15’, upright and rounded shape, dark green foliage, cream white spring bloom.

Conifer trees

  • Abies koreana ‘Horstmann’s Silberlocke’ Korean fir; 20’x 8’ or larger, narrow, pyramidal shape, interesting silver-tipped foliage.
  • Calocedrus decurrens ‘Maupin Glow’ Incense cedar; 15’ x 4’, narrow pyramidal shape with golden new growth, drought tolerant, best color in full sun.
  • Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Van den Akker’ weeping Nootka cypress; a very narrow native with weeping foliage hanging close to its trunk; 15-20’ x 1-2’; regular water and full sun. Not for dry areas. A few lower branches might extend wider than the usual growth.
  • Juniperus virgianiana ‘Sky Rocket’ Eastern red cedar; 15’ x 3’, columnar growth with bluish-green needles, takes dry conditions and best in full sun.

Do your research before being enticed into buying a great-looking tree that may not be site worthy. You can view many of these trees in the Community Education Garden at the northwest corner of Western and Springwater avenues in Wenatchee. Or go to to see the lists of trees in each of the various areas of this education garden.

Possible sources for buying trees include Emerald Desert Nursery in Quincy, big box stores in Wenatchee and Sav-Mart’s nursery in late winter-early spring.

Researching these interesting trees makes me consider making space for a few of these!

A WSU Master Gardeners of Chelan County column appears weekly in The Wenatchee World.

Mary Fran McClure is one of four columnists featured.