Trees are the backbone of any good landscaping design. Because they're so integral to a landscape and also because there is so much time invested in taking them from sapling to adult tree, it's important to consider every characteristic of the tree before it's planted. Instead of looking just at what will do well in a particular climate, it's also important to consider how big the tree is going to grow and how much it will take nutrients from the soil and away from surrounding plants. This is especially important if you're considering some shade trees.
The American sycamore is an excellent choice for those who are looking for height in their shade trees. With a relatively quick growth rate, they can grow up to 100 feet tall. For those who would like all the benefits of a sycamore without the height, there are several European and Asiatic varieties to choose from. The sycamore is a hardy tree when it comes to climate, is fairly resistant to the elements and transplants well. The American sycamore differs from its cousins in that it is susceptible to a twig blight every spring, effecting the foliage temporarily. It also does well in city conditions, and its roots can weather the poorly drained soil often found there.
The bald cypress can make an excellent addition to any landscape. This fast-growing tree can reach heights of up to 100 feet, and will acquire its unique shape as it matures. The only downside to the bald cypress is that it can be difficult to transplant, so it's crucial that correct placement of the tree be done early. It has a natural resistance to disease and pests, making it continuously low maintenance. The tree will thrive in a wide range of soil types, including soil that might have drainage problems. A hardy tree, it is great for bringing a little bit of nature into the city. Cypress trees also have beautiful fall foliage.
The English oak is a unique tree with a tall, spender shape. Still considered a shade tree, it can make a great addition in areas with close quarters and especially in city settings. English oaks can grow fairly quickly, and are relatively disease and pest resistant. While they need properly drained soil to truly thrive, they are also resistant to the elements and to the air quality of cities. They can reach heights of up to 60 feet, a mid-range, manageable size.
If you're looking for a good city tree, look no further than the gingko. Its elegant, fan-like leaves are green in the summer and turn a golden yellow in the autumn. It also sports round fruits that can smell unpleasant--but that's a problem easily taken care of by grafting another tree onto the gingko, which is done before the trees are even sold at the nursery. Gingkos require some time investment, as they grow relatively slowly. But they've earned the right to do so; gingkos are one of the oldest types of trees that still flourish today. These primitive trees lack some of the evolutionary advantages of their more sophisticated cousins, as they've remained. Pest and disease resistant, they're hardy trees that can withstand the elements, grow in hot, dry conditions, and can handle the rough treatment that goes along with transplanting.