I think he's in Kendall or maybe Grundy County-
Best guess is there is sand in his soil improving drainage but he doesn't have sandy soil per se more so silt loam.
I think I'm very good at what I do
Understatement if one could see even one of his completed projects.
I'm good at propagating just about anything and getting it to live by meeting a plants cultural requirements and companion planting properly but admittedly am a stick gardener in that I stick things anywhere I feel they will grow best. I also tend to cram plants in together which is a big no no. I'm trying to be a good gardener and I'm trying my best to factor in things like height and spread but it's soooo hard when I get hung up on aesthetics of an actual plant and begin to revert to my old bad habits of sticking things anywhere.
I'll stand by my recommendation of the disease resistant Elm and Chestnut above based on my personal experiences but not for this yard.
Way too much spread for almost every tree I suggested. You'd end up looking like you lived in a dense forest in no time flat. Yards with kids need to be able to be used.
I've got one left over Q. macrocarpa I could share with you but... that's one huge tree with a spread of over 70'. Same deal with the Q. alba as the spread on that one can be up to 90'. These are massive oaks. I've got them here and they need space. If an Oak is the way you want to go, the spread on the Quercus imbricaria is only 40 - 50' but the Quercus muehlenbergii I suggested would not be a decent choice because its spread is somewhat between the imbricaria (Shingle Oak) and the other oaks at around 60'. I'm partial to oaks myself and another that comes to mind that could work very well for you would be the Q. ellipsoidalis (Northern Pin Oak) with a spread of only around 40'. Bummer, I had one left over and my mailman took it home.
I think the route you might want to consider for the back yard would be one tree with somewhat generous proportions with a spread of around 30-40' with one or two that have spreads of 25' or under. That round robins to that Ostrya virginiana (Hophornbeam), Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud), Prairie Crab (Malus ioensis), and Cornus florida (Pagoda Dogwood)- all would be decent choices. You can fill in with shrubs in other areas to add some interest. I really like the idea of the Viburnum prunifolium (Blackhaw Viburnum) but don't forget to add at least one other viburnum to your property to be able to get those beautiful fall berries. The prunifolium requires cross pollination. I happen to love viburnums and they come in many shapes and sizes so adding a smaller variety to compliment the prunifolium would be no big deal.
Cratageous mollis (Downy Hawthorn) is an excellent suggestion for a small tree. This little tree has one of the most beautiful shapes to it. Spread is around 25' and this is a nice ornamental. Word of caution, it has thorns. Don't think you'd want a mature specimen in your yard for the next 5 years with a 1 year old running around but a sapling should be fine until the kids get control of their bodies and aren't running into things... like trees.
(sigh) I have one Ginkgo here that is about 5 years old. I think it will be a great tree some day... unfortunately, it is rather gangly looking. They definitely have a good case of the uglies that lasts quite a while until they start filling out and maturing. Same deal with the Gymnocladus dioicus which I call the self destructing tree. Sometime in fall the Kentucky Coffeetree sapling drops its leaves then proceeds to drop all of its branches for the first 4-5 years of its life. It has no winter interest in its early years unless you like looking at the equivalent of a tall skinny pole in the ground.
Tee he, Acer campestre (blech) Nice looking tree but they're just beginning to become a cause for concern.
Conifers would be naturals with Hamamelis virginiana (Witchhazel) and I could certainly see a nice raised berm with a Kalmia growing in that area in the front of any home. I like Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel) and there are so many wonderful cultivars available these days it is hard to choose. Conifers open up entirely different options and we have some incredibly nice cold hardy azaleas (Northern Hi-Lights) that work well with the above.