The Q&A Archives: Shade Trees Near Pond

Question: We need to plant a row of fast growing shade trees along driveway - also next to koi pond. The sun glare from new cement is terrible when sitting on our patio. What tree would have roots that would not disturb cement, grow fast, have leaves year around, not poison pond, and do well in So. Calif. hot sun? And what size should I purchase?

Answer: There are only a handful of trees that will fit your purposes. You want something that is as litter-free as possible, with well-behaved root systems. Tree ferns (Dicksonia and Cyathea), Acacia stenophylla, Ficus auriculata, Palms, or Chinese Parasol Tree (Firmiana simplex). Not all of these are evergreen, but they're all well-behaved. You might want to consider some of the tall-growing hedges instead of trees. Glossy Abelia, Boxwood, Calistemon (Bottlebrush), or Escallonia would serve the purpose and give some seasonal color as well. Fast-growing trees can have weak limb and branch structure, and can have invasive root systems, too, so are not always a good choice, even for young landscape situations. When purchasing plants, choose the largest size you can afford. Plants in one-gallon pots are the least expensive, but take the longest time to mature. Plants in five-gallon containers are generally 3-4 years old (depending upon rate of growth), and are more expensive. For an instant, finished-looking landscape, purchase trees in 15-20 gallon containers, or those dug and moved with heavy equipment. Until your plants grow large enough to shade your patio, why not invest in a nice umbrella?

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