The Q&A Archives: finding the right trees

Question: I have built a 2-1/2 ft planter in my backyard (which backs up against neighbors backyards) and I want to find 2 trees for it that have a small root system, stay green & pretty throughout the year, provide some shade, but doesn't drop a mess of seeds or whatever. They would be in the corner of the planter which is approx a 4 ft square & against 2 walls. Can you recommend a few? Thanks.

Answer: Raywood ash (Fraxinus oxycarpa "Raywood'). Although it is deciduous rather than evergreen, it's worth some consideration. The tree grows fairly fast (to 35 feet)--a plus if you're landscaping from scratch and want shade as soon as possible. Raywood ash takes summer heat, winter cold, and most soils--including alkaline --in stride. Its roots will grow deeper if the tree is given a wide planting area and occasional deep watering.

Ornamental pear (Pyrus calleryana). This deciduous tree grows well in most of the West (except the desert), reaching 15 to 25 feet tall. Glossy green leaves are leathery; white flower clusters appear in early spring. The variety "Bradford' adapts widely and has deep roots. Spring flowers and fall color are excellent. It tolerates any soil and needs minimal summer water once established. "Aristocrat' is similar to "Bradford' but more spreading.

Carrot wood (Cupaniopsis anacardioides). This evergreen tree thrives in all of Southern California. A slow grower to 30 feet with a 20-foot spread, it has a delicate, airy habit, with leaves divided into 4-inch-long leaflets. It provides dense shade.

It's deep rooted, tolerant of poor drainage and salty winds, and clean--a good choice near pools. It needs average water.

Pink tabebuia (T. avellanedae, sometimes sold as T. ipe). It grows best in Southern California, where mature trees put on spectacular flower displays in March or April. It usually drops its leaves before flowers appear; new leaves emerge a month later.

Growth is fast to about 30 feet. Provide well-drained soil. Established trees are drought tolerant, but they respond to regular watering and feeding. Your nursery may not stock pink tabebuia, but you can have it ordered.

Hope one of these suggestions is just right for your garden.

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by Char and is called "'Diamond Head' Sunrise"