Shade tree for small yard

brockeverlyJune 2, 2011

So I had done a little homework and decided on an Indian Laurel for a 15x15 dog run on the side of my house as it can easily be pruned to the size I need as it ages, but when I got to Lowes to pick it up I was swayed to another tree which I am now kicking myself for purchasing and planting before doing my homework. What I needed is something to provide shade that is an evergreen or semi evergreen, deep root system to avoid damage to my foundation and walls, ability to prune to a point that it can easily be walked under to clean up the area. The person I spoke with recommended a Shamel Ash for the area, and that could not possibly be any more wrong. This area is bordered by my home, garage (with AC unit on a pedestal behind it), block wall, and wrought iron fencing. It is planted dead center of the area, but everything I have read says this is asking for problems years from now. Shallow roots to knock over the walls, crack the foundation, etc. As for the height (told us it would get around 40ft, but its double that) and diameter, I am sure with pruning I could control that, but I don't know what to do about the roots being shallow. I deep water my citrus trees once a week for two days through a drip system so my yard stays moist. My question is, through this deep watering can I combat the shallow roots, or should I pull this tree and make them exchange it?

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Also, keep in mind that my AC unit is about 8ft from the tree now, so this could creep up and be a problem later if I ever need to replace the unit. This is why I want something that the branches can be pruned to keep everything 6-8ft above ground. I will take a picture of the area tomorrow for scale. I am 90% certain at this point that the Shamel Ash is going to have to go, I can only see it causing headaches for myself or for the next owner of my home.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 1:32AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

I recently pulled a Shamel Ash after planting it only 3 years but for different reasons. It's a bit too water needy for the front yard, which is gravel so it was not doing too well. My neighbor has one and it looks great. It's planted in a grass lawn that is watered frequently. I see no evidence of shallow roots but it's a young tree too, planted shortly after mine.

There is a mature Shamel Ash at Summer Winds at 67th Ave and Bell, right next to the sidewalk and parking lot. You may want to drive by there and check it out.

Here's a picture of one planted in the corner of a block wall:

Here's a link to a discussion here a few years ago:

Google it!

Here is a link that might be useful: Shamel Ash discussion

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 7:52AM
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I have a large Shamel in front yard surrounded by grass. It is a beautiful tree. The roots have come to the surface in several places, but not a big problem.

I did hear that this may not be a good tree for AZ. As soon as it loses the leaves it starts putting out new and a freeze will set it back. Have not really had a problem with this but did see it occur this past year. I know someone that lost about 5 trees this past this year that were young and had freeze damage.

I think the San Tex is suppose to be better for AZ. Does have very nice shape but not as thick as the shamel.

I would recommend the shamel but it gets very big. Amazing shade tree.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 2:19PM
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haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)

The ficus would also get too large for that space. I would try to return the tree. Have you considered putting in a large and fast-growing shrub and training it as a tree, or building a pergola as a support for evergreen vines?

The Thevetia peruviana is one I have on the side of my house.

It is poisonous but my dogs are not at all attracted to it. The Lady Banks rose (Rosa banksiae) or Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia) would be good evergreen climbers for a pergola or other structure.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thevetia perviana

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 2:43PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

I agree with you and the others that an ash tree and a Ficus would be far too large for that area. I'd get rid of it and replace it with something much smaller growing. Texas ebonies don't get nearly so large and tolerate pruning very well and they have nice bright green evergreen foliage. Chaste tree (Vitex) is deciduous so it drops its leaves in winter and is a very modest growing tree that also tolerate pruning really well. Plus it makes beautiful spikes of blue flowers in summer. The foliage/blooms/seeds can be a bit messy so if you want lower maintenance then the Texas ebony is probably a better choice.

Large shrubs trained as mini trees might work too. I love the idea of a pergola with Lady Banks rose trained on it for shade.

Let us know what you do and how it works out!
Take care,

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas ebony

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 1:43PM
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A couple of our neighbors have Vitex trees, and I covet them. They have a beautiful dome shape that looks attractive even when they lose their leaves, and when they bloom they are simply breathtaking.

I found this info about planting distances:

Minimum Planting Distances

* from SMUD pad mounted equipment (such as a transformer mounted on a concrete pad): 8 feet
* from a building foundation: 6 feet
* from walks and driveways: 5 feet
* from an air conditioner: 3 feet
* from a fence: 3 feet
* from a utility offset (such as an underground line, pipe or cable): 3 feet
* from a utility overhead (such as an overhead power line): 0 feet
* from a swimming pool: 6 feet
* from a septic system: 15 feet

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 2:36PM
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Thanks for all the info everyone! I am going to pull it on my next day off and do a little more shopping around. Its a bit late in the year now to plant I would think, but I think I will try to find a Texas Lilac Vitex. They are gorgeous, and I think will suit the purpose much better than the Shamel Ash will.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 1:22AM
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Vitex! So pretty...I think I'll plant one in the fall...maybe in the backyard. Can they handle full sun exposure, or the west side of the house?

Another one that would be perfect for a smaller yard is a Purple Leaf Plum. So gorgeous! I know it has a bad rap for succumbing to disease/pests but I've seen quite a few mature ones here in CenPho that seem to be thriving, I think it's really luck of the draw. They seem to be able to handle the heat pretty well, too. I've had mine on the west side of my house for 2 years and I'm absolutely shocked that it has even seems to grow in the middle of the summer! Not too messy, even though it is deciduous. I've heard they usually don't live beyond say, 15 years, but to me it's worth it while the beauty lasts.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 1:23PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Xica, Vitex can take any amount of sun you can throw at it. As long as it's watered, it'll thrive in full sun. Even here, LOL.

I actually drive by one vitex that has self-sown in the desert by Hayden Rd, just north of the 101 and it gets NO human water at all other than rain/runoff from the road and it blooms nicely each year. Of course, it's ratty compared to what we'd want in our gardens, LOL, but that shows how durable they are. Great trees.

Take care all, and keep us posted!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 7:06PM
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