Columnar Form Trees

Because today's houses are often on small lots very close to their neighbours, many homeowners are looking for tall, skinny trees that will screen their decks, windows and yards from others' view. A quick drive around any newer neighbourhood will quickly tell you that there is one tree of this type used more often than any other - the columnar form of Swedish aspen. It may surprise some homeowners to learn that there are other options.

In some situations, evergreens may be more useful, as they will continue to block views, and especially noise, through the winter. This is especially helpful when trying to screen a busy roadway. In other situations, a smaller or larger tree will be more appropriate, and some people may want a tree with burgundy foliage, spring flowers or fruit to attract wildlife. Trees are listed from the smallest to largest.

Deciduous Trees:

'Dream Weaver' Crabapple (Malus x pumila): 10' tall, 2' wide. Pink blooms and green foliage in the spring turns to burgundy foliage in the summer. The fruit on this tree is large enough for eating.
'Sutherland' Caragana (Caragana arborescens): 12-15' tall, 3-4' wide. Although it is fairly tall, this is really a shrub, as it is usually grown with several stems at the base. Its growth is very upright and formal-looking. Like other caraganas, it is hardy, drought-tolerant and able to grow in poor soil. Yellow flowers appear in the spring, and this variety has few spines.
'Strathmore' Crabapple (Malus): 20' tall, 5-8' wide. The new leaves on this tree have a reddish colour, although they mature to green, and the fruit is purple-red. Unfortunately, this tree is susceptible to fireblight.
'Columnar' Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia 'Fastigiata'): 25' tall, 8' wide. A slow-growing tree that is not very common; like other mountain ash trees, it features white flowers in the spring, good fall colour and red berries that attract birds.
'Columnar' Siberian Crabapple (Malus baccata 'Columnaris'): 30-35' tall, 8-10' wide. Also susceptible to fireblight, this tree has fewer flowers than other crabapples. Be aware of new introductions of columar-type crabapple trees of different sizes, hopefully with improved disease resistance.
Swedish Columnar Aspen (Populus tremula 'Erecta'): 30-45' tall, 5-8' wide. The ubiquitous tall, skinny tree for small lots, its leaves make a pleasant rustling sound in the breeze. The roots will not sucker as much as most aspens, and the leaves turn yellow in the fall.
'Tower' Poplar (Populus x canescens 'Tower'): 70' tall, 10' wide. Unlike many poplars, this tree produces very few suckers; it also turns yellow in the fall. Much taller than the similar Swedish columnar aspen.

Evergreen Trees:

'Cupressina' Norway Spruce (Picea abies): 10' tall, 3' wide. This dwarf spruce has dense branches that point slightly upwards. The green needles become bluish during the winter.
'Degroot's Spire' Cedar (Thuja occidentalis): 15' tall, 2-3' wide. A slow-growing variety with very dense foliage, it has an interesting, twisted form and is perfect for a small space.
'Skyrocket' Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum): 16' tall, 2' wide. Blue-green, lacy foliage with a very narrow form.
'Brandon' Cedar (Thuja occidentalis): 30-40' tall, 6-10' wide. This variety grows faster than many others, it is also one of the hardiest varieties and will tolerate heat and dry periods. It provides a dense screen year-round. 'Skybound' is a similar variety that does not grow as tall.
'Columnar Blue' Spruce (Picea pungens var. glauca 'Fastigiata'): 30-60' tall, 15-20' wide. A narrower version of the attractive Colorado blue spruce, it has a dense, pyramidal form and a blue-green colour.
Swiss Stone Pine (Pinus cembra): 50-60' tall, 10-20' wide. Dense, upturned branches make this an attractive tree that doesn't taper much toward the top, it does best in well-drained soil.
Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia): 65-70' tall, 25-30' wide. This pine grows very tall and straight and casts only light shade. It also does not drop cones and grows well in damp conditions.

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