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

Tuesday - July 26, 2011

From: 94803, CA
Region: California
Topic: Trees
Title: Deciduous shade tree for Inland California dry hills
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

What type of tree would work well in our back yard? We're looking for a deciduous tree that doesn't grow too tall, maybe 20'. We'd like it to have spreading branches to provide shade during the summer and it needs to tolerate wind. It's going to be near the house so we don't want anything known to cause problems with foundations. We get some fog in the summer, heat in the spring and fall and rain in the winter. We'd also like a tree that's not too messy. We're replacing an almost dead fast growing brittle tree that drops branches in the winter winds, flowers in the spring, seed pods in the summer and tiny gutter clogging leaves in the fall.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants feels that the best bet for deciduous trees native to your area would be Quercus kelloggii (California black oak), Quercus douglasii (Blue oak), Quercus lobata (Valley oak), or Acer macrophyllum (Bigleaf maple).  The oaks all grow rather slowly, so that it would take many years for them to surpass the 20 foot height you prefer.  You will see by clicking on the underlined names that the Valley oak ultimately grows much taller than the other two species.  The growth rate of the Bigtooth maple is  considerably greater than that of the oaks.The maple naturally grows in moist valleys, and you would need to provide it with more water than needed for the oaks.  I am assuming that your homestead is in a dry area typical of your part of California.

This web site provides information about the care of oaks.  They are generally free of disease and insect problems.  But Sudden Oak Death has been found to affect some California black oak trees.  The Bigleaf maple is relatively resistant to disease.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Image Gallery does not contain photos of these trees, but I incluce photos from the Internet of California black oak, Blue oak, Valley oak, and Bigleaf Maple.  Any of these trees should be available at one of your local plant nurseries.  Winter is the least stressful season for tree planting.

 

More Trees Questions

Cottonwood trees shedding in Orion MI
June 23, 2010 - How long can I plan on my cottonwood trees (wild) shedding long wide cotton strips? This is a first for my trees. Usually it is fluffy small puffs.
view the full question and answer

Planting spot for sycamore in Belle Mead NJ
April 19, 2010 - At school we all got a tree. It was a Buttonwood tree, which I know is REALLY big, but my grandma wants to plant it near other trees. Where should I put it? My dad won't let me plant it in the middle...
view the full question and answer

Seven foot privacy fence in Tucson
November 25, 2014 - I am looking for a privacy hedge for a home in Tucson, Arizona that will be in full sun. Needs to be at least seven foot tall and low water and maintenance. Any suggestions.
view the full question and answer

Eastern Redbud Flowers and Leaves Dried Up
June 12, 2014 - I have a young Eastern Redbud that started blooming last year. This year blossoms formed and leaves started to come, but now they are all dried up. What might have caused this?
view the full question and answer

Viability of Taxus canadensis (Canadian yew) for Buffalo, NY
February 28, 2008 - I live in Buffalo, N.Y. and am gradually naturalizing my back yard. The previous owner built a 6' fence along the western edge of the yard and planted a straight line of arborvitae, which are now abo...
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