top 10 trees for southern california backyard

sp0ng3rJuly 24, 2009

I am looking for everyone's top 5 or 10 trees that do not become like a Banyon tree and take over the yard. This can range from everything from a birch tree (smaller) to a Mulberry Tree (large). I am excluding citrus trees, but you can add them if you like. I think this will be a fun post if we get enough people.

I will Start:

1) White Birch

2) Japanese Maple

3) Ficus B.(variegated or not, and MUST be potted or it will take over)

4) Mulberry Tree

5) Weeping Willow

Thanks everyone!

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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

All your selections save Ficus need lots of water. Your water reality soon will mean these will start dying as you cut back on irrigation.

So if I may, let us aim for realistic trees for the future knowing resource limitations will be forthcoming - much more so than now or in the past.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 11:32AM
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A water wise choice would be Western Redbud.

If the yard is big enough and you don't mind tons of shade and a tree you can see from a mile away a Deodar is another water wise choice.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 12:56PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

White Birch and Japanese Maple are really mostly out of their element in hot and dry, mild winter climates. Sunset Western Garden Book (2007, Sunset Publishing, Menlo Park) has special instructions for trying to get a Japanese Maple to make it in areas with hard water and hard summers.

The staining properties of the products of fruiting mulberry trees can be quite a problem on many sites. Elsewhere these may pop up weedily, have a rank growth habit even when not reseeding. It is true that fruitless, small-growing weeping cultivars are fairly easily found at outlets, and the gourmet but rather cold-tender Morus nigra might be possible there. It does stain, however. And the weeping forms are not high-branching shade trees, growing instead into something more like a child's play house.

Weeping willow (except for small-growing kinds) is of course another giant spreading tree that takes over the yard. And it may break up within the time that the original planter is still there, unlike banyan trees.

Numerous trees more suited to the conditions there can be chosen from long-established displays at local public collections. Your list consists almost entirely of common hardy trees grown throughout much of the country.

California has a huge and interesting native flora including many outstanding ornamentals. A typical sized lot could not contain all of the different kinds of these that an interested party might want to try, let alone is it necessary to rely exclusively on thirsty exotics.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 2:44PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Three trees that are especially suited to California are:
1) Olive
2) Fig
3) Persimmon

Yes, they're quite messy, too.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 5:24PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

Let us not forget SelecTree.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 6:05PM
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For SoCal, I'd seriously reccomend California White Oak, a/k/a Valley Oak. Not only is it a beautiful, reasonably fast-growing species, it's also considered a threatened native species.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 11:17PM
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Where do you mean by "southern california"? San Diego? Los Angeles? Palm Springs? Blythe? It'll make a big difference as to what will do best.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 3:39AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I believe shantung maple is on the recommended list somewhere in California. That would be a good alternative to Japanese maple... Much easier to grow. Can handle full sun and tolerate alkaline soil and drought significantly better.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 9:04AM
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I appreciate everyone's advise, but my reason for this post was "also" to get everyone's top 5 or 10 trees too. Please feel to comment, but don't forget to offer alternatives too! That was the fun part of my post that I was hoping to see also.

And southern California as in Orange County.

Thanks Everyone!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 9:23AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If you haven't yet you might want to try this one.

Here is a link that might be useful: California Gardening

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 12:27PM
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I did not know about it, Thank you!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 1:15AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

By the way, I meant to say Pomegranate...not persimmon!


    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 6:44PM
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I would keep mulberry on the list. I have two mulberry trees in my Santa Clarita yard in hard, alkaline, clay soil, with blistering heat in the summer, and little precipitation, and they do great. Not only do they provide a ton of shade and a place for the kids to play, but the fruit in late spring is incredible! Yes, they are messy, but they aren't like gum trees that leave land mines for years to come and become invasive.

Other favorites:
live oak
desert peach
and,although they are not a natural fit in southern California, southern highbush blueberries (in planters or raised beds with plenty of peat moss and humus for alkaline soil)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 12:34PM
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