En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Tuesday - February 19, 2008

From: Murrieta, CA
Region: California
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Selection of shade tree and distance from house
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in California in zone 8b. I have seen the lists of trees for my area. I am still not clear on what tree to select. I would like to plant a nice tall shady tree very close to my house, but I want to make sure its roots do not cause a problem later. Any suggestions?

ANSWER:

We're assuming that when you refer to "a problem", you mean both for the tree and for the hardscape, like foundations, sidewalks, and driveways. Since your city of Murrieta, California is in southwestern Riverside County and thus near San Diego, we thought you would find this article prepared by The National Wildlife Federation/San Diego County of interest. Most of the current information on preservation of trees has to do with protection of the tree during construction. However, if we correctly understand you, you want to plant a shade tree that will grow pretty tall close to your house.

The operative term here is probably "close". When a tree is being planted, there needs to be an area designated around it as a protected root zone. The smallest definition of a root zone would be the dripline or area beneath the branches. Another measurement for a protected root zone is that it should be 1-1/2 to 3 times further than the height of the tree. If you plant a small, immature tree, its branch dripline area might be no more than 10 feet in circumference; however, you said you wanted a large shade tree, and what do you expect that small tree to do? Grow, of course, and it's going to grow in all directions, above and below the ground level. One suggestion we saw was that trees be planted no closer than 10 feet from the house, depending on how big the tree and roots will grow; also, the advice was not to plant trees above or near a water or sewer line.

When it comes down to selecting a specific tree to plant, there are many variables: how quickly do you want the shade? how big will this tree grow in 5 years? 10 years? is there space on your property for that large a tree? This article, Trees for Shade, addresses many of those questions, along with information on planting and care of trees. Without knowing the size or orientation of your property, we can't really recommend specific trees for your purposes. However, we searched our Plant Database for trees for California, and here are four possibilities you might investigate.

Cupressus arizonica (Arizona cypress)

Fraxinus velutina (velvet ash)

Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)

Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine)


Cupressus arizonica

Fraxinus velutina

Populus tremuloides

Pinus contorta

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Watering newly planted woodland plants in VA
June 12, 2011 - How frequently should newly planted, native plants, growing in wooded areas be watered? Is it better to not water at all than to use sprinklers in which case the water rarely saturates the leaf...
view the full question and answer

North-central Texas shrubs for part-shade
March 30, 2011 - I need a shrub that will be OK in shade (2-3 hrs a day max.), in fairly well-drained soil, will grow to around 8 ft. tall and 4-6 wide, for the region between Denton and Gainesville. If it flowers, al...
view the full question and answer

Plants for dry shade in West Virginia
April 22, 2010 - I live in Mannington, WV and I am wanting to do some landscaping. The area that I would like to plant in is very dry and gets little to no sunlight. I would like to plant something that will come back...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for shade grass in El Paso TX
April 05, 2013 - We currently have a Honey Mesquite tree with thinning bermuda grass underneath in our front yard. I suspect that the filtered shade is killing the bermuda. I was thinking of planting Buffalo Grass, or...
view the full question and answer

Sun and shade landscaping in Coppell TX
April 03, 2011 - My two-story home in Coppell Texas faces north. The houses are ten feet apart. The sun leaves the front yard late-0ctober/early-November. It is March 24 and the beds are still in house shade. In s...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center