The Q&A Archives: Tree recomendation

Question: I was wondering if you could recommend a tree for an area of my yard. I live in Walnut Creek, CA - hot and dry (although I will irrigate) in the summer (80-100 degrees F) and can get as low as 25 degrees F over the winter. Clay soil, but well supplemented. The location is along a west-facing fence, good sun, about 10 feet wide by 30 feet long, near a swimming pool (about 10 feet from the pool). I would like to have trees roughly 40 feet tall (not too tall as they will dwarf the yard) to screen a possible 2-story house in the neighboring lot. I like the liquidambar trees (very nice light green color and wavy leaves in the wind)- these trees grow well in the area and would look nice. But I am concerned they might get too big and their roots might damage the pool. I also like ornamental pear, but both of my pear trees contracted fireblight and were destroyed. I'm not fond of the Italian cypress. Any suggestions?

Answer: I share your concern about liquidambar. The roots will extend out about one and a half times the diameter of the canopy so as it matures, the roots will invade the pool area. These trees will drop their leaves in the fall and will probably end up in your pool. You might consider evergreen rather than deciduous plants. Italian cypress would be suitable for the area you describe. They're reasonably litter-free and will grow tall enough to provide a privacy screen with growing too wide for the planting area. A second suggestion is a row of Thuja (arborvitae). These plants have a tall, narrow growth habit and are relatively maintenance free. Ficus is nice but has terribly invasive roots. Ornamental pear is susceptible to fireblight which, as you've experienced, can eventually kill the tree. Wish I had more suggestions for you. Best wishes with your privacy screen!

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