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

Repairing Damage to Oak Tree Bark
February 02, 2016 - I have destructive horses who have torn a lot of the bark off of my oak trees. I've moved the horses from that area, but is there something I can put on the places where the bark is missing so the tr...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from The Woodlands TX
July 22, 2013 - Your plant database does not distinguish 2 native tree species. Common names for these 2 trees: American hophornbeam and ironwood or musclewood. These common names are used for both trees - even m...
view the full question and answer

Christmas decorations on a live oak in Montrose CA
November 18, 2009 - Is it OK to put Christmas lights and decorations on a live oak?
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Canary Date Palms from Miami FL
December 06, 2011 - Hi: The fronts of my canary date palm, which I planted about 6 years ago, has been getting brown from the bottom of the tree and working itself towards the top for the past several months now. The b...
view the full question and answer

Tree with taproot for Jodhpur India
July 05, 2013 - I am a resident of India. I need information of a tree with tap roots to grow in my backyard. We have moderate to hot climate here. It needs to be as small as possible due to lack of space. It'd be g...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center