Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - March 30, 2009

From: Crows Landing, CA
Region: California
Topic: Trees
Title: Trees with non-invasive roots for California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

My family is currently in the process of redoing our entire yard. A huge task I might add! We had fruitless mulberries planted and one Modesto Ash. As much as we loved them we are hating their roots. It seems like a never ending task of sifting through the dirt trying to take the largest of them out. We live in the country so space isn't the issue we have. We are looking to plant trees that have deeper roots and give plenty of shade. We also plan to put in sprinklers around the yard so watering won't be an issue either. Can you suggest something that is semi-fast growing and preferably seedless, no acorns. We live in the central valley of California and the soil has a bit of clay in it. Should we stick to planting pine trees?

ANSWER:

If you want large trees for shade, your best bets are conifers and oaks since both have deep tap roots. And, in general, conifers are usually faster growing than oaks.  There are two conifers, both pines, that that grow in Stanislaus County according to the USDA Plants Database.

Pinus ponderosa (ponderosa pine)

Pinus sabiniana (California foothill pine) Click here for photos and more information.

If you could tolerate acorns, here are some oaks that are known to grow in Stanislaus County.

Quercus agrifolia (California live oak) 

Quercus chrysolepis (canyon live oak) with photos and more information.

Quercus douglasii (blue oak) with photos and more information.

Quercus lobata (valley oak) with photos and more information.

Quercus wislizeni (interior live oak) with photos and more information.

Here are a couple of other possibilities that are large and aren't oaks or pines:

Umbellularia californica (California laurel). This tree does have rather large fruit.  You can read more about it from the USDA National Resources Conservation Service.

Platanus racemosa (California sycamore)NativeGrow.com describes its roots as being aggressive; but the RiverProject.org praises its deep root system that stabilizes stream banks. Some people find its large deciduous leaves and seed balls a negative feature.

You can find more trees, small and large, that are native to California by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database. Select 'California' from the Select State or Province option and then 'Tree' under Habit (general appearance).  You can see distributions by clicking on the USDA link under the ADDITIONAL RESOURCES option on each individual species' page.  Then, click on California on the USDA distribution map to see which counties the species has been reported from.


Pinus ponderosa

Quercus agrifolia

Umbellularia californica

Platanus racemosa

 

 

More Trees Questions

Shade tolerant plants for Waynesville MO
April 09, 2013 - We moved to Waynesville, MO (gardening region 6) and when we bought our house there was a nice looking gardening area in front of the house. It is shaded moderately by a Redwood Tree and was "occupie...
view the full question and answer

Desert willow for Florida?
March 10, 2011 - I, too, am interested in the desert willow tree. I reside in central Florida, 32162. However, Mountain States Nursery does not ship east of Texas. May I have a listing of other nurseries also. T...
view the full question and answer

Oak tree with browning leaves in Brenham TX
August 16, 2011 - I have a large oak tree in my small back yard. I also have a sprinkler so the tree has been receiving some water. Nevertheless, some of the leaves are turning brown in patches. Would drip watering ...
view the full question and answer

About Live Oak trees in Austin, Texas
October 19, 2009 - Hello, I planted a couple texas live oak two years ago in South Austin. They're about 5 feet tall. How long will it take for them to mature? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Jelly made from local plums from Amarillo TX
July 29, 2011 - On Wednesday, August 5, 2009 you answered a question on native plants in the Austin area in which you wrote:"Two kinds of local plums have also been used to make jellies: Mexican Plum (Prunus mexican...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.