Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
September, 2005
Regional Report

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Persimmon fruit trees add color to the landscape as well as edible fruit.

Add a Tree to Your Yard

This is the perfect time of year to plant a tree to beautify your yard. The roots will get well established before they go dormant, and the tree will be ready for the spring surge of both foliage and root growth.

Decide what you want from a tree -- where it will be planted and for what purpose. If you want summer shade for the house, a deciduous tree planted on the south side would be appropriate. If you prefer a pleasant window view, a grouping of silver birches might be nice. You might prefer a spring bloom display, showy bark, or winter fruit. Or you might want to block unwanted views or accent desirable ones. Perhaps you'd like trees to provide food, shelter, and nesting sites for birds and other wildlife.

Making Choices
Fall colors come alive with many trees, including beech, birch, coral tree, gingko, liquidambar, magnolia, maidenhair, Japanese and other maples, crape myrtles, persimmon, Chinese pistache, sour gum, Chinese tallow, tulip tree (named for its tulip-shaped leaves), and zelkova.

Shrubs with colorful berries to plant now for fall and winter accents include abelia, barberry, bottlebrush, forsythia, holly, hydrangea, oleander, pyracantha, quince, and toyon.

Once you've made a preliminary choice, consider the mature size of the tree. Does the area allow the tree sufficient space when it's mature? Have you planned for the different needs of the shaded and moist soil underneath its widespread limbs? Fruit trees are available in dwarf and semi-dwarf sizes that fit neatly into a small corner or large container.

In locations subjected to strong winds, avoid planting trees that are prone to wind damage, such as acacia, ash, cypress, elm, eucalyptus, liquidambar, California pepper, and pine. Be realistic about the amount of maintenance you're willing to do.

Plant new trees while the soil is still warm to encourage the roots to get established before going dormant for the winter. This should be no later than six weeks before the soil temperature drops to 40 degrees or lower. This is especially helpful for flowering crab apples, forsythias, English ivies, junipers, honey locusts, maples, pines, rhododendrons, spruces, and yews.

Trim off dead wood and watersprouts (quickly growing upright shoots), but leave major pruning for January when the trees are dormant.

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