Santa Clara County California Shade Tree

YardviserSeptember 4, 2011

I'd like recommendations for an outstanding shade tree for Santa Clara County, Ca. USDA zone 8B and Sunset Zone 15. I'm not after a quantity list. I want to know of about 3, 4 or half dozen of the truly best outstanding shade trees for this area (Santa Clara County California) with great features, stature and minimal bad habits. The tree should be capable of becoming large and suitable for planting at street. Could be evergreen or deciduous, but must have beautiful canopy. Please say WHY it's good and list any bad habits. Hope that is not too much to ask.

I would also like to hear any comments about how the Camphor tree correlates with the above requirements.

Thanks very much for your suggestions. Muchas gracia para su pensamientos.

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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Are you located in Santa Clara County, or is this for a project you're doing there? You really can't top the lists of trees compiled within the Sunset Western Garden book, also nicely related to zones/microclimates. While I love the look of Camphor trees and think they're quite beautiful at all seasons, if you've actually gardened around one you'd appreciate how they can present real problems. Surface rooting and destructive of curbs and sidewalks, dense shade inhibiting lawns below them, continuous year round leaf drop, and susceptibility to sudden death from several soil borne fungal attacks. In my view best used where you really have the room for one, not as a lawn tree or within a street strip any less tan 10 feet wide.

As to best shade trees, it would really depend on tighter ideal qualities, whether you want year round shade or not, and whether you intend to irrigate or not, and what degree of long term maintenance will be provided. Some of the most overused choices can still be quite satisfactory in the right situation, such as Liquidambar styraciflua or Ginko biloba. Pistachia sinensis, Arbutus Marina, Quercus agrifolia, Eucalyptus ficifolia and E. nicholii, Jacaranda mimosifolia are several larger growing trees that are commonly seen there, and good fits in the right settings.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 7:14PM
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It's for a project. I prefer personal input of people who know the plants as a starting place and will be researching all recommendations. A consultant will approve later. Bahia, I appreciate your input. I asked about Camphor as they're the predominant street tree in the neighborhood. Though they're pretty, they were the developer's choice so automatically under suspicion. I generally like the idea of "going with the flow" unless the flow has too much downside. And thanks for the rec. on the guide.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 7:56PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

It sounds like you are designing this from long distance without actually seeing the site. Not my preferred way of designing, and in any case, even if you aren't familiar with California conditions and will be having a local consultant vet your selections; you'd be well served having a copy of the Sunset "Bible" on hand to help you get up to speed.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 4:11PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

In all likelihood there is a City Approved Tree list that you must work off of or be prepared to stand in front of the design review board/ city water department or the planning and building department to defend your choice of tree that is not on the recommended list.

As usual, Senor Bahia has provided excellent recommendations. That little tid bit of info was worth about $ 125.oo per hour of pro. consultation time.
You received information from one of the most highly respected horticulturists in the S.F. Bay area.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 8:35PM
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Bahia, I have already seen site. Bought book same day you recommended. Thanks, again, for recommendation.

d-d, I'm sure any tree I choose will be approved. Unless City list is only for crappiest trees. Then we will have to battle.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 10:52PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

(subtle chuckling) oy, you're in for a fun time if you're sure any tree you choose will be approved by the city. ( if only it was that easy )
Certain towns within Santa Clara county are staunch supporters of AB 1881 and have in place a series of steps you must abide by to have your street tree approved.
Along with AB1881 aka WELO there is also the BFL protocols ( Bay Friendly ) that most all municipalities have adopted and will insist that you abide by , especially for street side planting.
Welcome to practicing landscape design in California.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 10:11PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Yes I'd agree that it doesn't pay to be too smug about what is permitted/not permitted with residential landscape design here in some parts of California. If the work being designed does require city reviews for final approval prior to permitting and installation, you'll be wishing you didn't make any promises you can't keep to your client. I'm glad I do most of my work here in the East Bay Area, where city policies are a good deal more relaxed as compared to marvellous Marin county. I think Michelle and I are both chuckling a bit about this situation, hopefully the local consultant on board(hopefully) will keep the project running smoothly and have the skinny on review and approval requirements.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 11:11PM
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It's not a "situation". Concern is appreciated, but speculation misapplied. My request is about wanting to be informed for discussions that ensue. My interest here is simple: form, performance, appearance of likeliest contenders. (We do not oppose and battle DRBs.)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 12:11PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

But your initial response seemed to indicate that you didn't think you'd be impacted in any way. It comes across as a bit of hubris, when it's more likely shooting from the hip.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2011 at 2:22PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

dd and bahia--Y'all have the patience of saints.

Yardviser--if you supplied more initial DIT (that's Details In Thread) you'd prompt less speculation.

I'm back on the forum after a long you are a new "voice" to me. So, from a long-time member--if you ask a CA question (and particularly a Bay Area question) and get advice from the above two are getting EXCELLENT advice. Not cheer-leading--stating facts. Those two people are extraordinarily talented and knowledgeable.

Me? I'm just an avid gardener (30 years), part-time garden-center worker, and general know-much-of-it when it comes to zone 6-7b plants in NC. And I have a good eye. And I still use the Oxford Comma.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 8:09AM
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Tha'ts what I believed.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 5:01PM
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Funny you should mention that, mjsee. I tend to use the serial comma, but knew it as the Harvard comma.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 5:43PM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)


duluthinbloom--I've heard it called both. Wikipedia has an entire article devoted to it. Linked below!


Here is a link that might be useful: Serial/Harvard/Oxford comma

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 5:55PM
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I've used it too but under the APA format only...

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 6:29PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Once a Harvard comma, always a Harvard comma.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 7:43PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

When Borders folded, I saw our Waldenbooks had a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style. We'd had to use it where I worked, and I missed having it around.... This is the 2010 edition; although they've made a lot of changes over the years, I'm very happy to see they still champion the serial comma.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 8:18PM
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Such an elegantly simple fix for that nagging "unresolved ambiguity". LOL

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 10:35AM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

I love this place. I purely do.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 3:30PM
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