Norway maples, also known by such colourful names as Emerald Queen and Harlequin Maple, were once prized the world over for their shade-giving properties. So much so, that when American elms lining the streets of many a US city began to fall prey to Dutch elm disease in the 1930s, city planners turned to Norway maples. Not only are they fast-growing and shade-giving, but they are also extremely hardy, able to grow in many soil types, and can tolerate droughts and floods.
For properties with lots of yard space, a single Norway maple can add a touch of stateliness. Their rounded crowns offer an eye-catching and fiery show in autumn and beautiful clumps of yellow flowers in spring.
However, if your yard space is limited, planting a Norway maple is not a good idea for a number of reasons.
They May Keep You in the Dark (Literally)
Norway maples generally grow up to around 60ft; however, in a small yard that is shaded at the sides by buildings or walls, they can grow up to 100ft. This height alone will be enough to leave your yard as well as your property shrouded in darkness. However, the canopies of Norway maples are also dense as well as wide and will leave you with little light or room to work with.
Plants and Even Grass Struggle to Grow under Them
You'll have a hard time growing anything in the presence of a Norway maple due to its shade, shallow root system, and voracious appetite.
Your View May be All Tree and No Yard
Whatever your view was before, once a Norway maple begins to mature, its densely packed and low to the ground canopy will ensure that your only view is of the tree.
You May Have Your Hands Full Cleaning Up the Mess
Norway maples are also notorious for the mess they make on the ground below them. Your small yard will be littered with seeds, flowers, twigs and branches all year round.
Norway maple Babies May Take Root All over Your Yard
These trees are now considered an invasive species in most states of North America due to their ability to outcompete native tree species. If you plant one of these trees in your small yard, your yard may soon be inundated with Norway maple saplings, growing anywhere and everywhere.
Consider Replacing Your Norway Maple
If you already have an established Norway maple in your yard, you should consider removing it. In fact, you might even be doing the tree itself a favour. In small spaces, Norway maples are known to strangle themselves via a process called "girdling", which means that the roots of the tree encircle the trunk restricting the flow of nutrients. Eventually, this process will kill the tree.
Fortunately, Norway maples transplant more easily than most other tree species. You could move the tree to another location if you feel bad about having it cut down. A good replacement would be a Japanese maple which also provides shade and beautiful autumn colours, but is much smaller and less dense.
Before making a decision about what to do with your Norway maple, consult with an arborist. Once they have examined the tree, they will help you to come up with a plan of action that benefits you and the tree should you feel bad about having it cut down.