Desert tree in a lawn?

Tempe5March 15, 2014

I have about 1,300 sq. ft of lawn that I eventually want to convert to xeriscape. Currently it's just lawn and the cacti I've planted.

What I would like to do is get 2 largish shade trees into the lawn, and when I have the time/money, remove the lawn and put in rocks.

So, the question is, what type of tree will thrive in a lawn (getting sprayed by sprinklers and watered 3x a week) and also thrive in a low water desert environment thereafter?

Some caveats: I am not a fan of mesquites and palo verdes. Lower litter is preferred.

The three trees I am currently favoring are the Chinese Elm, the Fruitless Olive, and the Chinese Pistache. Also, Sissoo is tempting but a lot of complaints about roots on the internet.

Any help is appreciated.

This post was edited by Tempe5 on Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 18:22

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Chinese elm for sure. Beautiful. I like Fantex ash and Australian bottle tree too

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 5:58PM
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It's a little unusual, but how about a Jujube? Not good for heavy shade, but a very cool looking tree.
RSI Growers might have a nice tree left in stock.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 11:22AM
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Elm and ash aren't desert trees, so I wouldn't plant those unless you plan on watering your gravel landscaping.

My sister has an ironwood right next to a lawn area and it's doing fine. They have nice flowers in the spring, but unfortunately some seeds, thorns too.

Are you familiar with desert museum tree? nice. It's a hybrid.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 8:30PM
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I had a similar question... what desert-adapted shade tree works in a lawn setting?

There aren't too many options, but the article below has some tips.

I finally settled on a Sonoran catclaw (acacia occidentalis) which is doing great so far. Except it's only 3 feet tall - I had to start it from seed, because no nursery carries them. But, *eventually*, it should turn into a nice shade tree.

Here is a link that might be useful: Desert Trees in Turf Areas

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 10:05AM
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Desert trees won't survive in a lawn. They'd grow tall and fast and either die of rot or be constantly broken by the wind in their low dense pithy wood (from overwatering).

You want xeriscape do it all at once. Piecemeal won't work. Now you could plant desert trees and totally cease watering the lawn as a non-HOA approved compromise. The eventual and I do mean eventual (slow growing desert trees) shade would further kill off any surviving non-native grass.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:45PM
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