You're right 5 feet isn't very large - I just saw some Japanese maples at the farmers market that were about 5-6 feet. We're getting one for the front of our large front window. We don't want anything to totally cover the front of the window or the house, yet want something decorative. I also saw some Hydranges "trees" (I think they were PeeWee hydrangeas) that were about 6 feet high at the nursery. There are also some weeping firs that don't get very big.
I will look into the Witch Hazel some more, and also into dwarf trees. There is a height restriction. I believe that the tree needs to be at least 5 feet tall when we plant it. Actually, I know there are 2 heights mentioned. One for evergreens, and one for deciduous trees. One was slightly taller than the other. I have no idea why. However, 5 or 6 feet is pretty small for a tree, and definitely not a problem for us. The trick is to find one that won't grow to be 30 feet or more high and 30 feet wide. I think 6 - 10 feet tall would be nice.
The Dirt Doctor article was a real revelation. I had heard of using nitrogen to help a tree rot before, but never sugar! Thanks, Cindrrelic!
It depends on how picky they want to be about what you plant there. A small tree will grow 25 to 30 feet tall. However, there are some trees that don't have a large spread and could fit in the spot. However, if they will let you plant a flowering shrub, then you could plant a Witch Hazel, or a Rose of Sharon, or even a Wisteria which you can shape into a tree. There are also some nice dwarf trees if they are permitted. Redbuds and Dogwoods are not tall but beautiful trees. Then there is the Weeping Redbud which only grows about 5 ft. tall. Check with the search engines and you can find photos of small trees along with their mature height.
Another small tree or shrub that you can plant is a hazel nut tree, they stay small 8 to 10 feet, smaller if you keep it trimmed. Plus you get the added bonus of fresh hazel nuts, but you do have to plant 2 in order to get pollination, but they can be kept small enough that you shouldn't have a problem.
To encourage a tree stump to rot more quickly, you can drill holes in it using a large drill bit then put blood meal or another high nitrogen source in the holes. It will helps to keep it moist. As far as replacement trees, since you are looking for something small, I like Witch Hazel. There is a native variety that only gets 12- 15 ft tall and not to wide. It blooms very early with small golden yellow flowers, Late February here in zone 5B. I took pictures of it this year with snow on the yellow flowers, Really Cool! You could also go with a dwarf fruit tree if you are interested in that, just be sure it is self fertile if you are only going to plant one.
We recently had a tree cut down in our front lawn, and there is a very short stump left.
I'm hearing that the best thing to do is to pay someone to remove it, as if we leave it there it will interfere with anything else growing. We could pay someone to grind it, but they will leave the grindings and roots in the ground and as they rot they deplete the nitrogen from the soil, making it difficult to grow anything else.
According to the permit that we obtained to cut the tree down, we are supposed to plant a new tree in its place! Not that we really want to do that. There does not seem to be a time limit and we are in no rush. However, I don't want to buy a tree and then have it die. (Nor do I want a large tree. The tree is too close to our house and our neighbor's driveway.)
I would appreciate feedback both on rotting out tree stumps without using fertilizer, and planting slow growing or small trees.
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