En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Trees with non-invasive roots for California

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

Plants for clay soil in Leavenworth IN
October 02, 2009 - I live in south central Indiana; the soil is very bad clay, either hard as a rock or mud. I have made several raised beds but am still having problems with plants rotting. What types of plants work he...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of one Desert Willow in Phoenix AZ
September 06, 2013 - We planted 4 desert willow trees in the summer and 3 of the 4 are doing excellent, however the last one is not not doing so well, it was the smallest of all and it started out fine but its leaves bega...
view the full question and answer

Trees to replace live oaks in Driftwood TX
February 07, 2012 - I am looking for ideas on what trees to plant in Driftwood, TX to replace live oaks that have been lost to oak wilt.
view the full question and answer

Tall trees for planting around a swimming pool in Frisco, Texas
May 04, 2010 - Could you please tell me what kind of tall trees would be best to plant around a swimming pool in Frisco, Texas?
view the full question and answer

Chlorosis in sycamore in Kyle TX
August 04, 2011 - I'm trying to assist an elderly neighbor of mine with a plant issue. We have designated street trees in this community, our street being a Sycamore. The previous foreman out here called it a Mexica...
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