Selecting Non-Invasive Trees for Your Yard

When customers come to us with questions about planting new trees in their yard, I asked two questions:

  1. What is this tree’s purpose? (shade, fruit, aesthetics, landscaping)
  2. Where would you like this tree to go? (location is super important)

We encourage most homeowners who want to put new trees in their yard to be cognizant of the root systems. Trees with non-invasive root systems are generally a better fit around the home because they’re easier to mow around and less likely to impact sidewalks, driveways or other underground structures.

There are three categories of trees that fit the non-invasive root profile: Fruit Trees, Shade Trees, and Shrubs and Curbside Trees.

Most of northern Baltimore County and western Harford County fall into Zone 6 or 7 on the USDA plant hardiness zone map. In both Harford and Baltimore counties include different zones between the northern and southern ends of the counties.

These trees below will thrive in our zones while not putting out super wide roots or crowns. They are ideal for placement along driveways, sidewalks, or in proximity to your home without creating significant risks.

Shade Trees

  • American hornbeam – a birch tree that does well in shaded areas
  • Amur Maple – shorter shade tree with striking bright orange-red leaves in the fall
  • English Holly – hardy in USDA zones 7-9, dense, glossy over evergreen leaves, works in sun or shady areas, long life span of 50-100 years.
  • Southern sugar maple – a smaller tree with yellow leaves in the fall
  • Others: Red tip photinia, Trident maple, Chinese pistache


  • Serviceberry – These shrubs produce bright red fruit around Christmas time that birds love to eat.
  • Crape myrtle – has long-blooming pink blossoms. Best for high-sun areas. Can be grown as a tree or shrub.
  • Skyrocket juniper – a somewhat scrubby evergreen with blue-green needles. Hardy, good for shade and is low maintenance.
  • Japanese maple – a hardy maple that produces beautiful, dark red leaves in the fall. Compatible with both sun and shade areas.
  • Others: Viburnums, hydrangeas, boxwoods, gardenia, barberries, hollies

Fruit Trees

  • Kousa dogwood – white blooms in spring, ornamental tree with red prickly fruits
  • Adam’s crabapple – a deep red bloom in mid-spring, more resistant to diseases than common apples
  • Cornelian cherry dogwood – yellow blooms in early spring, tree can be grown as tree or shrub
  • Pawpaw – dark red blooms in early spring, produces edible banana-like fruit
  • Others: Dwarf varieties of Apple, Cherry, Perry, Apricot, Orange Plum

Once you’ve selected the tree and location, be sure to plant the tree in the right season.  A good rule of thumb is to plant trees 4-6 weeks before the extremes of the summer or winter hit. Fall is generally a good time to plant most trees once drought conditions have passed.

Plant these in Spring.  Fruit trees, birch, dogwood, magnolias. Evergreens and pines can be planted in Spring.

Plant these in Fall. Maples, and generally speaking, shrubs, and shade trees can be planted in fall along with evergreens and pines.

For more detailed information, a tree planting guide can be found at the Arbor Day Foundation website.

Have questions about trees on your property? We’d be happy to assess your yard and suggest a management plan.

Manor Tree Service has been providing decades of tree service to eastern Baltimore County and western Harford County from our Glen Arm, MD location. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

Selecting Non-Invasive Trees for Your Yard