Explore Plants

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
    
 

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 - June 04, 2013

From: san rafael, CA
Region: California
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Looking for a specimen shade tree in San Rafael, CA
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I'm looking for a specimen shade tree that can get 30'x30', that doesn't drop a bunch of crud (seeds, etc) on the patio (leaves are ok), medium to low water requirement, roots are behaved, zone 9, red color in fall a plus.

ANSWER:

One of the chief activities of plants is to reproduce, so we have to put up with flowers, fruits and, seeds scattered around the yard. However, there are some trees that are less messy than others.

At this point I should mention that the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is  to increase the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America, but to the area in which they are being grown.

Lets start our search for an appropriate tree by going to our Native Plant Database  and scrolling down to the Combination Search box. Select California under State, tree under Habit, and perennial under Duration. Check Sun under Light requirement and dry under Soil moisture, and 12 - 36 ft. under Height. Click the Submit Combination Search button, and you will get a list of 16 native species of trees. Click on the scientific name of each plant and its NPIN page will appear which contains information about growth characteristics and requirements. As you proceed, look for trees that match up with your growing conditions. You can generate other lists by changing your selection criteria.

Another source  of trees is at this link from calpoly.edu. With this list you need to already know the name of the  plant, however, there are other features at the link that can be quite helpful.

This link from tytyga.com (this is a commercial nursery) is well illustrated with a large variety of of shade trees, many of which are non-natives.

Once youve found your tree, our “How to Plant a Tree” article from our Step by Step Guides should  prove helpful.

Since you mentioned roots, I’m including a couple of links that help illuminate their underground world.

floridaplants.com

colostate.edu

 

More Planting Questions

Need to know how to plant trees to create a windbreak in Ashburn, VA.
May 06, 2010 - I want to know how to plant trees to create windbreaks. I live on a slope of a hill, the front of the house is steep and the back of the house has neighbors in a cul de sac. I swear I live in a wind...
view the full question and answer

Oak trees shedding leaves in Denton TX
May 27, 2012 - In Denton, TX we have two mature Quercus buckleyi. It is May 11th 2012 and one of these trees has been shedding green leaves for the last week. The only changes we have made are: planted English ivy...
view the full question and answer

Possibility of camas being raised in Edmonton, Alberta
September 18, 2007 - I live in Edmonton, Alberta, and wish to find out how "Camassia (leichtlinii white) will fare in this zone.
view the full question and answer

Propagation of rain, oxblood, and copper lily bulbs
November 30, 2012 - I have Rain Lily, Oxblood Lily, and Copper Lily bulbs out of the ground, that are putting out some green growth. I would like to plant them soon. Is it okay to plant now and in December, or do I hav...
view the full question and answer

Medium-sized trees for Central Texas
October 25, 2013 - I need some help figuring out what 2 trees to plant to replace 2 trees that are being taken down on Monday. The input we've received from the company doing the tree cleanup is to go with a chinkapi...
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.