Good Shade Tree - Houston

I'm about to move into my new house in NW Houston, TX...and I would like some advice for a good shade tree or two to plant in my back yard. It will likely get lots of sun and water.
Criteria/needs as below...
1) Would like it to eventually serve as a screen for my 2nd floor bonus room, as land behind my back fence may eventually become commericial and unsightly.
2) I don't want the roots to be a risk to my foundation or pipes that may be underground. The tree will likely be planted 10-15 ft from my house and maybe 5-10 ft from underground lines.
3) Hardy. I don't think I have a green thumb. I can make sure it has enough water, but I want a tree that would be tough to kill.
4) Fast growing a plus, though can be sacrificed for the above. I don't want to wait endless years for it to look like a tree and not a twig in the ground, though.
5) A tree that attracted wildlife (squirrels, birds, etc) might be nice as a bonus....though bottom of the list of importance.
Based on my current googling of these groups...I was thinking maybe a Freeman or Red Maple. Do those grow well in steamy Houston? Any sort of oak that would work well?
Thanks for any feedback!
Scott in Houston
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

One last thing, how BIG could I buy a tree that I am looking for? I'd rather get off on a running start and would like to plant the largest tree possible with the above criteria for up to 2-300 dollars. Where would I go for something like this?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Neither of those maples are particularly well adapted to Tecas heat, nor do they tend to be very drought tolerant. Shantung maple (Acer truncatum) is a btter choice - far more heat and drought tolerant - also a hybrid maple with A. truncatum in its parentage, Acer x 'Warrenred' (also sold as 'Pacific Sunset') shows good results in hot, dry climates. Tupelo or Nyssa sylvatica would be another good choice. All get great fall color.
Lots of oaks will do well : bur oak, chinquapin, water oak, Shumard and live oak are all trees recommended for Texas gardens.
Couple of other points - fast growing trees tend to be not very long-lived. Most trees will put on1-3 feet of growth annually once established. Anything faster than that and you probably have a trash tree or one that will develop significant problems. Patience is necessary or purchase a large enough specimen initially. Also, 10-15 feet from the house maybe a little close for any of these trees. Make sure it is planted far enough away from any structure so that the mature canopy will be unobstructed - better for the tree, less change of storm damage, leaf /litter build up or branches scraping the siding or roof.
pam - gardengal
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Scott, Pam brought up some excellent points in her response to you (patience, tree selection/ characteristics, location)
Given the specs you quoted for planting, you will have fewer choices of selections. Trees need to room to spread unobstructedly as they naturally develop. Also, as it sounds, you need trees that are more upright than spreading. In this scenario, I would suggest:
1. Betula nigra, River Birch. (2 of them) (20' X 40') http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ornamentals/natives/betulanigra.htm The link says the tree is short lived and they go to about 40 years of age. They are pleasingly fast growing and a pair would give you a nice balance in the small area you are trying to populate. The three trunked ones are nice.
2. Platanus mexicana Mexican Sycamore (1 of them) http://frontpage.auburn.edu/cosam/aboretum/trees.asp?locationID=127
http://www.auburn.edu/arboretum/trees/platanus_occidentalis_sycamore2.jpg
*Note* the image in the link is an P. occidentalis which is an American Sycamore. The Mexican Sycamore is not quite as wide and not as tall (20' X 50'). I have planted several of these for customers and they grow very fast.
Something else you could do is to screen the back of your area with some shrubs. That will hie any commercial development that ccurs and helps to dampen te noise level.
1. Ilex vomitoria "Pride of Houston" Yaupon http://www.magnoliagardensnursery.com/productdescrip/Ilex_Pride.html
2. Ilex vomitoria "Will Fleming" Yaupon. A thin and narrow specimen. http://www.ag.auburn.edu/landscape/dbpages/198.html
3. Ungnadia speciosa Mexican Buckeye http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ornamentals/nativeshrubs/ungnadiaspecio.htm
4. Ilex decidua Possomhaw Holly http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ornamentals/natives/ilexdecidua.htm
5. Myrica cerifera Southern Wax Myrtle http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ornamentals/natives/myricacerifera.htm
6. Prunus mexicana Mexicam Plum http://www.magnoliagardensnursery.com/productdescrip/Landscape/Prunus_Mexican.html
Something else considering this time of year - Citrus. Oranges, limes and limequats, kumquats. January/early February is the time to select and purchase and plant. They are evergreen, many are cold hardy for Houston and they have fruit.
Urban Harvest, http://www.urbanharvest.org , will be having its annual fruit tree sale on the 17th. A real good nursery for you in your area is RCW, http://www.etera.com/Signpost.asp?sp=1&dlr=1379 . They have a tree farm in Plantersville and they have a good inventory to chose from. Magnolia Gardens and Treesearch are wholesale only.
Oaks will overpower your area and Maples will engulf the open space with canopy.
Hope this helps some.
J. Kolenovsky http://www.celestialhabitats.com
SJE wrote:

--

Celestial Habitats by J. Kolenovsky
2003 Honorable Mention Award, Keep Houston Beautiful
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Near the Museum of Art in Houston are these great Canary Island palms. How about a palm tree or two or three? They don't need to be that far from the house, and will give shade and grow relatively fast. You can probably buy two rather large palms for the amount you want to spend.
opined:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
a nice pin oak would do good

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I found Pin Oak on the A & M website as two different but closely related oaks. Personally, I like the Nuttall Oak one as it is more Ph tolerant and not as tall and wide as the other. http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ornamentals/natives/quercusnuttallii.htm Quercus phellos is the other and its a close runner-up. http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ornamentals/natives/quercusphellos.htm
J
john wrote:

--

Celestial Habitats by J. Kolenovsky
2003 Honorable Mention Award, Keep Houston Beautiful
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.