Freeman maple ‘Autumn Blaze’
* Common name: Freeman maple Autumn Blaze
* Botanical name: Acer x freemanii ‘Jeffsred’
* What it is: One of the best new shade-tree hybrids, notable for brilliant red fall foliage, storm-resistant branches, resistance to bugs and disease, good drought-tolerance and lack of messy seed pods.
* Size: About 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide, maybe a little more.
* Where to use: Perfect to the south or west of the house, where it’ll produce afternoon and early-evening shade. Just keep at least 20 feet away from buildings and property lines. Good choice for fall specimen in large yards, for lining a big and open driveway, or for massing in large fields.
* Care: This cross between red and silver maples has won awards for its durability and good looks in heat, drought, clay soil and other tough conditions, so you’ll need to do little once it’s established. Prune out competing trunks and crossing branches in the early years, and keep the roots damp for the first few years. Other than removing lowest limbs as the tree grows, ‘Autumn Blaze’ should then become a no-work tree.
* Great partner: As the canopy eventually shades out surrounding grass, replace it with a dry-shade groundcover such as liriope, pachysandra and/or barrenwort.