How to Pick the Best Maple Tree for a Minnesota Yard
The Best 2 Varieties of (Shade Tree Form) Maple Trees for MN Yards
- We recommend going with either a Sugar Maple ‘Acer Saccharum’ or a Red Maple ‘Acer Rubrum’ variety maple tree. These types of maple trees have the best combinations of beautiful fall colors and ideal growth form size/shape for a shade tree in your lawn.
- What size works best for a shade tree? Look for varieties that grow at least 30’ wide and 40’ tall if you want a traditional shade tree form, many good options will be around 40’ wide and 50’ tall, although it can take at least 10-15 years for most of them to reach even half that size. Narrower cultivars will not look as nice as stand-alone trees in the yard and will not provide the filtered shade and desirable form of a traditional shaped shade tree.
- Sugar Trees
- Red Maple
- Norway maples
- Silver Maple
- Amur Maples
- Japanese Maple
- Northwind maple
Sugar maples, also known as rock maples or hard maples, often feature golden to orange fall foliage, however some can also have reddish tones. Native to Minnesota, sugar maples come in a wide variety of improved cultivar possibilities with various forms, sizes, and fall color tones. These are just a handful of them that thrive in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, metro area.
‘Fall Fiesta’ Maple
‘Northern Flare’ Maple
‘Autumn Fest’ Maple
‘Green Mountain’ Maple
Red Maple Tree
Fall leaf on red maples is a beautiful crimson color. These are a few excellent cultivar selections that are perfect for the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro areas out of the many available:
The “Red Sunset” Maple
Fall Radiance Maple
Information on Other Maples Tree Variety Options for MN
Norway Maples (Acer Platanoides) are very nice-looking maple trees with a good growth form and size for a for use as a shade tree in Minnesota. They are typically fast growing and can tolerate many adverse growing conditions, like poor soil and heat stress, which is why they are often used as a street or boulevard trees in Minneapolis and St. Paul. One of the drawbacks to Norway maples compared to a red or sugar maples, is that Norway maples generally do not have nearly as impressive of fall color as the red or sugar maples. Norway maples leaves stay mostly light green to light yellow until dropping in fall. They are also well known to have extremely dense leafing canopy’s that produce heavy shade around the base of the tree, this can make growing thick grass below a mature Norway maple challenging. However, the dense shade problem can be mostly mitigated by pruning lower branches to raise the height of the canopy as well as pruning to thin the canopy. It should be mentioned that younger Norway maple trees, say anything less than 15-20 years old usually aren’t large/dense enough to cause shade issues in the lawn space below them. Most Norway maples have green leaves throughout the growing season, however some like the ‘Crimson maple’ maintain burgundy colors leaves all throughout the season which makes for a unique look.
Standard silver maples are not advised for use as shade trees in lawns. Since they grow so swiftly, silver maples were a popular choice among homeowners and builders in 1980s suburban home developments. But of days, planting silver maples is quite uncommon due to the following disadvantages of choosing a silver maple for your yard: Last but not least, silver maple trees have weak branch angles that are prone to breaking and require a lot of clean-up and tree trimming to maintain an acceptable tree form. They also lack any noticeable fall color, have shallow roots that lift the soil around the base of the trunk, and become exposed in the lawn.
Hybrid Silver Maples – In order to combine the fast growth rate of the silver maple with the attractive fall color of a red maple, silver maples have since been crossed with other more desired maples, such as the red maple. Some of the best-selling and most well-known new maple tree kinds, such as the “Autumn Blaze” Maple, have been produced through crossbreeding between red and silver maple varieties.
Fundamentally, an amur maple’s canopy is usually too low to be mowed around without extensive trimming, and they resemble huge bushes rather than attractive shade trees. Typically, amur maple trees are 15 to 20 feet wide and 15 to 20 feet tall. Amur maples have untidy branching patterns and numerous suckering shoots on branches, which necessitates extensive trimming and pruning to maintain a “clean look” in landscaped areas. There may be a lot of invasive tree amur trees in nearby areas as a result of the seeds’ potential invasiveness. All things considered, Amur maples may possess the most striking and spectacular fall colors of any maple kind.
Most Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) are not cold resistant in our zone 4 Minnesota environment because they favor warm temperatures. Many alternatives are hardy for zone 5, which some people try to utilize in Minnesota with winter protection and covering. But, since MN is primarily classified as zone 4, we think this is a mistake and will ultimately fail. All things considered, the Japanese velvet King maple is the only option for Japanese maples that are zone 4 rated that we are currently aware of. But, it is a bush or shrub that grows best in landscape bed spaces and, at 4′ tall and 4′ wide when mature, it is a shrub rather than a shade tree. Furthermore, the majority of Japanese maples, even in zones 5 and above, are little trees that don’t provide the desirable shade in grass settings.
The ‘Northwind’ maple is a crossbred cultivar between a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) and a Korean maple (Acer pseudosieboldianmum) that is rated zone 4 hardy. Other similar hybrid options exist including the ‘Korean northern glow’ and ‘Korean artic Jade’. The goal in crossbreeding these maples was basically to create a “Japanese maple looking” tree cultivar that is cold hardy enough to survive Minnesota’s zone 4 harsh winters. At roughly 15’ to 20’ tall and 15’ wide when mature (it could easily take 15+ years to get that large), these are ornamental type trees rather than traditional large shade trees.