En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Why so many Sugar Hackberry seedlings in my back yard in The Woodlands, TX?
May 25, 2013 - Why do I have so many Sugar Hackberry seedlings (Celtis Laevigata) sprouting up naturally in my back yard? There are a few Winged Elms in my neighborhood, but no Sugar Hackberry trees that I know of....
view the full question and answer

Why is my Texas mountain laurel growing so slowly?
July 22, 2015 - I have a Mountain Laurel, Anacacho Orchid Tree and Desert Willow on the northern side of our yard - all three get full sun most of the day. The Mountain Laurel is closer to the east side. The other...
view the full question and answer

Arborvitae and flower garden fighting for space in Seattle WA
May 22, 2010 - Hi, I put in dozens of Arbovitae, mature evergreen trees, 4 yrs ago for privacy. They are doing well, but I was surrounding a flower garden which now appears to be suffering due to the root system of ...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen screening tree for Wichita Falls TX
November 25, 2015 - Recommendations for a screen plant. Dry. full sun. 20 to 30 ft.high. evergreen. Wichita Falls, TX location.
view the full question and answer

Watering newly-planted Afghan Pines
May 11, 2015 - I just planted some Afghan pines in Amarillo, tx (avg. rainfall about 2O in. Per year) What would be the appropriate amount of water and how often would I need to water during this time.
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center