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

Trees for Socorro NM
June 28, 2012 - I recently moved from Austin to Socorro, NM. I want to add 2 shade trees to my hot, dry garden. I am considering Arizona Cypress, Live Oak (Quercus Fusiformis - yes, they are native in NM, as well a...
view the full question and answer

Are Mesquite (Prosopis) pods safe for dogs to eat?
June 15, 2009 - are pods from mesquite trees posionus to dogs if they chew or eat them?
view the full question and answer

Looking for a Privacy Barrier Plant for NC
August 21, 2014 - I am trying to determine the best plant for a privacy barrier for my area in NC that has clay soil. I have a 6 foot high fence but need something 12 feet or taller. It has to be something that does no...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen tree for Phoenix
November 17, 2013 - I need your help. I'm looking for a pretty evergreen tree for my small front yard in Phoenix. One that is not horribly messy and doesn't get wider that 10 - 15 ft. I want to be able to decorate at...
view the full question and answer

Mail order source for Guaiacum angustifolium from Ft. Worth TX
April 16, 2014 - Do you have a mail order source for the seeds of Guaiacum angustifolium? I have looked extensively and cannot find one. 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