Dear Grumpster, Please suggest a tree for me. We live in lower Alabama and I need suggestions for a tree that will stay compact and not grow too tall for a spot between my house and a new deck. I'm trying to break up/soften the appearance of the area by creating a bed in between the brick houses and new deck.

Thanks, Holly

The Grumpster thinks the best choice for you is a Japanese maple (Acer palmatum). There are a tremendous number of different selections available, including weeping, dwarf, red-leaf and green-leaf types. Given your situation, I would choose a green-leaf type, because red leaves would clash with the brick. One of my favorites is 'Waterfall,' which is a weeping, cut-leaf type. It has green leaves that turn golden-yellow in fall.

Another tree you might consider is our native fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus). It's a small, rounded tree with showy white flowers in spring and bright yellow leaves in fall.