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

Friday - July 08, 2011

From: irvine, CA
Region: California
Topic: Trees
Title: Evergreen trees for a Southern California yard
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Hello I live in Irvine, CA and I am looking for a tree for our front yard. We recently planted oaks but they did not survive the clay soil. Our landscaper wants to replace them with oaks or with carrot woods. I am afraid that new oaks would face the same problems. The carrot woods seem invasive and not native to the area. Our landscape has a mediterranean style which look we would like to maintain with the trees. Our hope is for low maintenance trees that are evergreen and won't negatively impact the surrounding plants. Your recommendations would be appreciated.

ANSWER:

Choosing a satisfactory native tree for you area can be tricky for Mr. Smarty Plants. Many communities in Southern California have blended the dry, hot, local climate with the green lawns and flower beds of other regions.  Finding suitable native trees for this mixed setting is not straightforward.  Many of the trees that your neighbors have are not natives.  Some characteristics of these are shown in the indicated website.  But there are native possibilities.  Oaks, for example.  I'm not clear what kind of oak failed to thrive in your setting, but I expect it was a species adapted to dry hillsides.  Perhaps Quercus engelmannii (Engelmann oak), which is an attractive tree in the right spot.  A related oak that is adapted to moist canyons is Quercus chrysolepis (Canyon live oak).  It might prosper in the clay soil of your garden, which I presume is irrigated.  Among other native tree species that you might consider are Lyonothamnus floribundus (Catalina ironwood), Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone), Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow), and Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress). Magnolia grandiflora (Southern magnolia), although not native to your area, does well in a moist environment if the soil is somewhat acidic.  Click on each species name to find its good and not so good attributes.

My long distance recommendations may not be entirely trustworthy for your particular microenvironment.  If any of these tree species seems desirable to you, you should contact local nurserymen for their thoughts or look around your community to see if the species is being used. Its absence would suggest that it may not be a good choice after all.

 

More Trees Questions

White fuzz on Christmas tree from Lewisburg PA
January 04, 2011 - Our Canaan fir Christmas tree is now coated with white fuzz after being up for 4 weeks. The fuzz looks like spider webs, but it is also in clumps around the needles. When you rub your finger on it, ...
view the full question and answer

Trees for a new home in Las Cruces, NM
October 06, 2009 - I've just purchased a brand new home in a sub-division in Las Cruces, NM and I'm looking for some landscaping advice. I come from upper-central Illinois, so I'm used to having trees pretty much al...
view the full question and answer

Ensuring survival of wax myrtle in Wilmington, NC
July 29, 2009 - I just transplanted some wax myrtle bushes. What do I need to do to insure they live?
view the full question and answer

Care in planting native Shumard oaks
April 16, 2008 - I am going to plant 3 shumard red oaks on the west side of my property. The land is basically rocky. What should I put in the holes to help the tree grow?
view the full question and answer

Natural privacy hedge for Kyle Texas
January 06, 2014 - I am looking to make a natural privacy screen in the Kyle Texas area. I am being pointed towards Leyland Cypress by some and told to shy away from this tree by others. I found Green Giant Arborvitae a...
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
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center