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
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

Neighbor's Arizona ash roots in Houston
September 30, 2009 - There is a huge Arizona Ash tree in my neighbor's yard. Its trunk is about 27 feet away from the foundation of my house and its foliage reaches my roof. I am planning to dig a trench on my side of t...
view the full question and answer

Season to plant Pacific Wax Myrtle from Fallbrook CA
July 25, 2013 - Would like to know which season would be the best to plant Pacific Wax Myrtle in Fallbrook, CA area? I presently have invading bamboo, which I want to get rid of. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Native substitute for traditional Christmas tree
December 01, 2007 - Could you give some recommendations for a substitute of the traditional Christmas tree used during the holiday season? The low light/humidity conditions in the home is a challenge under any circumsta...
view the full question and answer

Problem with unknown tree in Austin, Texas
July 23, 2013 - Have recently moved to Austin, Texas and have a tree in my backyard that has been dropping leaves and one major branch appears to be dead. That branch has hard rust colored sap circles (about penny si...
view the full question and answer

Seeds or seedlings of Texas madrone (Arbutus xalapensis)
January 03, 2009 - Where can I obtain seeds or seedlings of the "Texas Madrone" tree? Thank You.
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