Help me find a tree? Shade, minimal trash, not water seeking

Laurel6123(6)April 27, 2011

I guess the subject pretty much says it all-My house was 'landscaped' with four bull pines 30 years ago, and they were removed in January because of bark beetle disease (it was just a matter of time).

So now my house is 'naked'.

I'm looking for something that is safe to plant near a septic system (high priority-it will be within 10-15 feet of the tank), tolerant of high heat/full sun (low desert area-blistering sun on occasion, but will be watered regularly as necessary), and not so wide that it will get into powerlines-the line is approx 30 feet up, and approx 20 feet away from proposed planting area. It will also be about 15 feet from my foundation, for what that's worth.

Fast growing would be lovely, but as I understand it, fast growth = weak growth, so I'll trade strong limbs and a bit of longevity for immediate gratification.

I was thinking of quaking aspen or perhaps river birch, but I believe they are both quite water-seeking and provide dappled shade at best; I like vine maples, but they aren't the best shade tree either.

Fruits, as long as they are nontoxic, are fine, I have hens that will happily clean them up; Other 'trash' I'd like to avoid if possible, I have an oak on the wrong side for shade that is extremely trashy, and the bane of my existence at mowing time!

Is this too tall an order? Surely there's something that will fit the bill, anyone have a suggestion?

Thank you!


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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


thats quite a list of qualifications ....

nothing 'fast growing' should go in that spot ..

and in my HO ... no tree should go within 10 to 15 feet of the tank ...

nor under the power lines ...

no lauren .. that spot should be left free of all trees ... if you consider that a tree can be twice as big underground .. though in a different shape.. then you should understand that anything that will stay out of the power lines.. will most likely end up in the tank 10 feet away ...

why are you so fixated on a 'tree' in that spot.. are you so land locked that you just have to use that space for a 'tree'????

how about something in the shrub family ..????

what i am trying to tell you.. is that you have secured yourself in a box.. a tree box .. and perhaps you ought to get out of the box .... think outside the box ...


    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 1:17PM
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I understand what you're saying, and why. Here's why I'd like a tree there-

I'm in town, narrowish lot-and aside from that end,there is no other place for anything that will provide any semblance of shade.

I'm completely open to shrubs, etc-and if I could find one large enough to cast a reasonable amount of shade, I'd happily trade. My house is approx 30 at the highest point, and the two bedrooms are on the upper story (tri-level...thank you 1975!) and has a asymmetrical roofline; opposite end of the property is garage/driveway.

I have no problem with leaving 'boxes'-any suggestions as to a good direction to go?

(Lot dimensions:

Foundation to power/property lines (south side): 30'
West side of foundation to property line: 66'
Foundation to septic (west side): approx 8'
Power line to property line North - South: 48'

I don't know if that is useful information or not, but as I said, any suggestions are welcome.

Thank you-

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 2:17PM
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And what city/state are you located in?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 3:03PM
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Clarkston, WA (I'm sorry, I assumed that was shown - not sure why!)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 4:07PM
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Are you willing to diligently use a product like Roebic Foaming Rootkiller annually to keep your septic lines clear?

I ask because my parents moved into a house with a number of trees near a septic field, and figured they'd better treat with copper sulfate to prevent future problems. One or two oak trees died. Normally such a treatment would only kill root ends near the leach field, but presumably this was a case where the tree had infiltrated badly enough that the root damage killed it. This was in the southeast/central Arkansas area; summers tend to be hot & prone to drought.

Copper sulfate products I've looked at want to be added to the distribution box; the Roebic can be poured down the toilet.

What would happen with a mid-size tree like a paperbark maple, shantung maple or bloodgood Japanese maple if you tried the Roebic once or twice per year to keep the septic lines free I don't know.


Here is a link that might be useful: Roebic Foaming Root Killer

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 9:36PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

IMHO.. no maple within 50 feet of a septic box or field..

BTW .... where is the leech field in relation to the box???

below is a picture of maple roots.. taken when the neighbor had to redig his septic field .. no foaming stuff is ever going to beat back an aggressive tree like a maple ... even JM's can get large and put roots everywhere.. in the decades to come ... go figure.. my hat is about 10 feet from the trunk ...


    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 8:35AM
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I was hoping that one of the West Coast posters could make some recommendations.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 10:43AM
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As far as the leach field...erm...I'm not really sure. I'm accustomed to a large, open, visible field, and there is nothing of that sort. I know where the tank is, as I had it pumped as part of the deal, but didn't think to ask where the leach field is.

I'm also considering bamboo in place of a tree-but know very little about it. Are there any shrubs that would grow tall enough to provide shade? I do know that the pines were planted in virtually the same spot (not exactly for ease of planting) and there are no issues with their roots. Whether that's relevant or not, again, I don't know. I suppose pines may have a tap root vs a diffuse-type?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 12:24PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

It sounds like your space is really limited for any tree, plus virtually any tree you plant will interfere with your garden.

Why not put some sort of frame or trellis over the deck and plant a vine for shade? It could be pretty sparse and inexpensive, just enough to give support to get the vine up there. That leaves the rest of the yard more open and doesn't threaten the septic lines. You could go with a fruiting vine such as a grape, or something else that would produce flowers and maybe a nice aroma.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 2:22AM
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OK I know this is outside of the box, but I totally understand the need for shade, so what about a tree in a container?
I know it sounds a little crazy, but it could work.
Go to the container forum and look up trees in containers and see what comes up.
You have nothing to loose, do you?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 7:31PM
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Could a tree in a container get big enough to shade a house though? I'm all for unusual stuff, but a pot big enough to hold a tree big enough to cast any shade on the house at all...erm...don't think I could afford the pot, let alone plant the thing! But-off to the container forum!

I'm not sure what to do just yet. Beeone-there's no deck in the area, it's open-expanse lawn, nothing but a swingset there.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 6:12PM
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I live in the Seattle area but also had my education at Utah State University. Know the high desert well and kinda miss the hot summers what with all this rain. How about Goldenrain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata), or maybe Serviceberry (Amelanchier grandiflora), Japanese Snowbell (Styrax japonicus), and maybe even Smokebush (Cotinus coggygria). I've seen the Smokebush pruned as a tree. Doublecheck the hardiness.

You may also consider some root barrier products, too.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 12:54AM
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