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Help! What Tree will Grow to Replace Silk Oak?

Posted by desertdance So CA Zone 9b (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 8, 14 at 10:07

Between a huge boulder and a huge deck is growing a 25+ year old Silk Oak (about 60' tall) on our recently purchased property. I question the sanity of the person who planted it.

It provides wonderful shade on the deck, but is the messiest tree on this earth! Additionally, it is poisonous and nothing will grow under it! Not even it's own seeds (which are legion and pop up everywhere).

This is a view from on top of the boulder. See the mess on the deck? Also look at the leaves on the boulder! You can't even mulch or compost this stuff. It inhibits growth of anything else. There is a baby dormant fig tree in the photo, but it's hard to see for all the brown junk from this awful tree.

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It will cost a lot of money to have it removed, but it's roots are invading our septic system and we are tired of the constant maintenance.

Is there any non-messy fast growing tree that will grow where it once was? We would like evergreen, but most shade trees seem to be deciduous. Dropping leaves once a year would be great compared to the horrible continual drop of seed pods, leaves and then ugly orange staining flowers in a different season.

Any suggestions?

Suzi


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Help! What Tree will Grow to Replace Silk Oak?

my only suggestion ... CA being so foreign to me.. is to plant NOTHING that claims to be.. fast growing ...

ken


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RE: Help! What Tree will Grow to Replace Silk Oak?

Suzi, Can you wait 25 years for another tree to to reach the same size to shade your deck? If not, there are some great 15' umbrellas that fold easily to deal with the wind.

If you can wait one of my favorite SoCal trees is the Jacaranda. It has great blue/purple spring blooms that I always liked there. It usually drops it's leave in late
summer. I lived in NorCal so I can't talk about how messy this tree is. Another great deciduous tree is Acer freemanii Autumn Blaze. Great red/orange fall color!

Are you closer to the ocean or the desert?


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RE: Help! What Tree will Grow to Replace Silk Oak?

jbraun,

We are closer to the desert. We live in the hills surrounding a valley where there are a lot of ranches, dairy farms, and citrus orchards. There are vineyards also.

We have only lived here for 8 months, but when we first bought the house last January, we experienced some beautiful softly falling snow. It didn't stick. Not cold enough for that. Summers range in the high 90's to low 100's.

Can I wait 25 years for another tree to reach the same size? Doubtful! LOL! Plan is to pay the money and get a big tree. I just fear that the poisonous roots left once we grind the stump of the Silky Oak might inhibit or kill it.

Since I've lived in So CA my whole life, I'm aware of the beautiful (and messy) Jacaranda! There are two on this 1.5 acre property, and I love that they are planted in the view, but not where their mess will disturb decks or patios.

Acer Freemanii Autumn Blaze is one I will investigate. I did my research and neither the roots of the Maple family or the Ginkgo Biloba are invasive. I am considering either one of those, but I fear that horrible Silky Oak (Aussie Tree) will disturb their growth. I need to know if the Maple family flowers and drops messy seed pods. I know I would need a MALE Ginkgo.

Thanks!

Suzi


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RE: Help! What Tree will Grow to Replace Silk Oak?

Suzi, Yes Autumn Blaze does drop some seeds. The petals are so small they hardly show up. Since it's a cross between A rubrum and A saccharum I think they might be sterile. Anyway they don't seem to self sew much. Not anywhere near what the silver maple does.

I had a client that had one near their lawn and it put on about 5' a year for the first 5 years. In the Silk Oak's spot you would probably get 2'-3' a year from it. I planted a 5 gallon one here that only gets St Louis area water and it's grown about that amount in 3 years.

I know that Ginko's leaves are pretty in the fall but they have really thick fleshy leaves that are hard to get up.

Good Luck


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RE: Help! What Tree will Grow to Replace Silk Oak?

  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 12, 14 at 14:12

I would check the Sunset Western Garden Book section on "what to plant near swimming pools". There's a good list of trees for that application and what zones they will thrive in. If you don't have the book and don't want to buy it, (it's very handy to have in Southern California) most libraries have it.

Silk Oak or Grevillea robusta is not native to California and reseeds quite a bit, so don't feel bad about taking it out. As poster Ken said, be wary of "fast growing". Fast is rarely good when it comes to trees, especially in a dry climate. And if you choose a large boxed tree, make sure it hasn't been sitting in that box so long the roots are circled round and round. In that condition it will always be an under-performer. Get a written guarantee from the installer for a reasonable time period so you are covered should it die after installation.

Put up a shade sail or small structure for shade for a few years if you need it. Picking the right tree and being patient while it grows will add value to your property.


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RE: Help! What Tree will Grow to Replace Silk Oak?

Thanks for the tip about planting around pools. Those would all have non-invasive roots. I do have that book.

I probably phrased my question a little wrong. What really worries me is that the roots remaining after the tree stump is ground will kill whatever gets planted there. Evidently the Silk Oak's roots are very toxic to plants. I only know this from Google searches. It is an Australian tree, so I'm hoping an Aussie may have that answer.

Thanks,

Suzi


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RE: Help! What Tree will Grow to Replace Silk Oak?

  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 14, 14 at 0:50

There are several in this neighborhood and several more stumps from where they've been cut down--stuff is growing around them here no problem.

Thinking more about trees for you, look at Brisbane Box, Lophostemon confertus. It's fairly fast, pretty clean, lower water requirements, and considered to have well-behaved roots for a larger tree. Personally I think it's incredibly boring, but--a big tree without too many problems has virtues. Another might be the fruitless version of Loquat, Eriobotrya deflexa, which is quite a pretty tree, maybe not big enough for your needs, but well behaved.

The Ginkos are gorgeous, just make sure you get a named male cultivar, not a seedling. I'd love a Ginko if I had the room.


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RE: Help! What Tree will Grow to Replace Silk Oak?

Thanks! Nice to know things will grow where it once was! We will have the stump seriously ground out!

I looked up Brisbane Box, Lophostemon confertus, and it has flowers and pods. It probably doesn't drop much in leaves like the Silky oak does, but I think that the Male Ginkgo is the answer.

We can compost the leaves of the Ginkgo, but the Silky oak leaves inhibit the growth of other plants, so that is not the kind of healthy compost we are looking for. Deciduous is probably good because we don't need shade on that deck in winter. Summer is the killer!

Thanks!
Suzi


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