Spring Foliage of Dawyck Purple Beech Tree (Fagus sylvatica) in a Country Cottage Garden in Rural Devon, England, UK


Swedish aspens once seemed like the perfect choice – fast-growing, well-behaved, a stunning addition to Edmonton yards. Yet, just as quickly as they rose in popularity, they became synonymous with tree removal crews. These trees, with their shockingly short lifespan (12-20 years in Alberta) and unstoppable suckering habit, turned from landscaping heroes to villains in the blink of an eye.

Lightsaber Crabapple

Columnar or lightsaber crabapple trees boast a unique, strikingly upright form that resembles a narrow column or lightsaber. Perfect for small spaces, they add a dramatic vertical accent to any landscape. These trees offer stunning spring blossoms in shades of pink, white, or red, often followed by small fruits that attract birds. With their space-saving shape and ornamental beauty, columnar crabapples make a stylish and practical addition to urban gardens.

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Sutherland Caragana

The Sutherland caragana AKA Siberian pea tree, is a terrific all around choice for Alberta yards. Not only is it about as hardy as a rock; but it has significant year round aesthetic appeal and produces edible flowers and peas!

Tolerant of anything you can throw at them; glossy copper like bark, long lasting yellow flowers, uniform upright growth habit (little to know pruning), the Sutherland is a true heavy hitter in the compact tree class!

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Tower/Lombardy Poplar

Tower Poplars boast a slender, columnar form similar to Swedish Aspen but offer a significant advantage in terms of size and lifespan. Unlike Swedish Aspens, which rarely see a 20th birthday, Tower Poplars can thrive for decades (growing proportionately larger as well). If you’re seeking a long-lived, visually striking, larger size, columnar tree, the Tower Poplar is an excellent alternative to the shorter-lived Swedish Aspen.

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Pinnacle Birch

The Pinnacle Birch boasts a naturally narrow, pyramidal shape sought after by fans of the Swedish Aspen, but it offers significant improvements. Unlike the notoriously short-lived and aggressively suckering Swedish Aspen, the Pinnacle Birch provides decades of beauty with its creamy white bark and vibrant golden fall foliage. It’s a disease-resistant, low-maintenance tree that offers elegant charm without the headaches associated with Swedish Aspen.

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Brandon Cedar (Arborvitae)

Why It’s Great:

  • Narrow low maintenance shape
  • Hardier arborvitae cultivar (Although still sometimes prone to winter damage while establishing) 
  • Year round privacy value and aesthetic appeal 

Brandon Cedar is known for its bright green, feathery foliage and slightly bushier growth habit compared to the Eastern White Cedar. It’s a good choice for hedges, screens, or foundation plantings.

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Crimson Century Maple

The Crimson Century Maple is a stunning cultivar prized for its compact, columnar form and brilliant burgundy foliage. This moderate-growing tree is perfect for smaller yards where striking color and a tidy shape are desired. Its dense canopy of deep red leaves turns fiery scarlet in the fall, offering a vibrant spectacle. Resilient, adaptable, and with a lifespan reaching upwards of 100 years, the Crimson Century Maple makes a bold statement in any landscape.

More narrow option: Consider the red rocket maple for tighter spots. It offers similar attributes with a more narrow canopy.

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Consumer choice award for Northern Alberta tree services 2022 and 2023!

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