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

Wednesday - June 02, 2010

From: Vacaville, CA
Region: California
Topic: Trees
Title: Trees for pool area in Solano County, California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We are looking for trees we can plant with non-invasive roots near our pool. We don't want them to get too big (about 10 feet) because we don't want them to shade out our pool. We also don't want anything too messy next to the pool or with flowers to bring bees near the pool. Can you suggest anything for us? Thank you!

ANSWER:

You have given us lots of problems to solve to find you a tree for your pool area.  First of all, unless we recommend ferns or some kind of conifer, the plants are going to have flowers.  As for invasive roots, conifers and oaks tend to have large tap root systems that are not as likely to grow into your pool area.  The do also grow lateral roots as well as the tap roots.  The roots of other plants are variable and we don't know exactly how they will react in your area.  It will depend on where a water source is for them.  Since you are going with a relatively small tree, you could consider growing them in large containers so that the roots are not a concern. 

With all the above in mind, here are a couple of smaller conifers that you could consider:

Juniperus californica (California juniper) and here are photos and more information.

Pinus attenuata (knobcone pine) and here are photos and more information.

Here are a couple of small evergreen oaks:

Quercus dumosa (coastal sage scrub oak)

Quercus durata (leather oak)

Many (if not all) of the plants below may attract bees to some extent.  Flowering plants need pollinators and many pollinators turn out to be bees of some sort. Bees are not normally agressive unless you disturb their hive.  However, if you are especially allergic to bee stings, I can understand your concern. You may have to resort to some sort of conifer or one of the oaks above.  Conifers and oaks are generally wind pollinated.

I assume you are looking for an evergreen tree so I have only chosen evergreens—the ones above and the following ones.  If you would like to consider a small deciduous tree, please visit our California-Northern Recommended page.  You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH in the sidebar to choose 'Tree' or 'Shrub' under GENERAL APPEARANCE to find various recommended small trees or shrubs that are commercially available and native to Northern California.

Morella californica (California wax myrtle) grows 10-25 feet but responds well to pruning.  It can even be made into a hedge.  Its botanical synonym is Myrica californica and you can see a photo and more description at Bay Natives from San Franciso area, one of the Associates in our National Suppliers Directory that specialize in plants native to the area. Here is more information

Another evergreen shrub/small tree with berries is Frangula californica ssp. californica (California buckthorn.  You can see a photo under its botanical synonym Rhamnus californica at Bay Natives. 

Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon) is evergreen, but comes with lots of berries.

Garrya elliptica (wavyleaf silktassel) has male and female trees.  The male trees have the long tassel-like flowers.  The female trees have smaller flowers, but will have berries.  Here are photos and more information.

Arctostaphylos manzanita (whiteleaf manzanita) is an attractive evergreen small tree. Here are photos and more information from Las Pilitas Nursery from our National Suppliers Directory.


 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Pecan tree for Johnson City TN
September 10, 2009 - I live in E. Tennessee and was wondering if there are any pecan trees that can be grown here? If so, which type? I am a native Texan and love pecans. I would appreciate any information you can give ...
view the full question and answer

Incorrectly planted anacua from San Antonio
November 22, 2013 - I purchased a 12' anacua tree from a local nursery about 18 months ago. It was not planted correctly (root bound, rolled into a hole about 3" larger than the pot) but is still alive with the number...
view the full question and answer

Removal of invasive horsetail in Shelby Township, MI
June 19, 2009 - Please help me or direct me to who may be able to help. I have horsetail (Equisetum) invading my Blue Rug Juniper. Please tell me what I can use to get rid of the horsetail (Equisetum) without killi...
view the full question and answer

Will Cedar Elm seedlings resprout from the root?
November 20, 2009 - I have a number of cedar elm saplings coming up in a garden bed which I am planning on replanting. It is very difficult to remove the entire taproot below about 1.5 feet as I encounter rocks and heavy...
view the full question and answer

Grafting stone fruit
April 02, 2009 - Do you know of anyone grafting the new low chill stone fruit trees to the Mexican plum to minimize cotton rot? Or would it even work?
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