Ideas for a smaller evergreen tree

monsoon99(Z9 CA)February 25, 2010

I am building a BBQ that is adjacent to a wall (wall is about 5 feet high) with a square indentation in the wall (about 2 feet by 2 feet) located about the center area of the BBQ. I am thinking of putting a tree in this hole?!? to provide shade over the bbq but am concerned about excessive falling leaves, flowers etc. onto the BBQ area.

Any ideas on a tree that stays evergreen, is on the smaller side, does not shed excessively and is beautiful. (We live in Pasadena, CA) Tall order but thought I would try. Another option may be to put in an umbrella in the hole but somehow a small tree seems so much better. TIA

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"Evergreen"? Because you think they're "cleaner" than deciduous trees?

"on the smaller side"? How small is small? A tree, by most definitions, is at least 20 feet high; is that "smaller"? If you get too small, it's possible the lower branches and leaves of the tree may be damaged by the heat from the bbq.

"does not shed excessively"? "beautiful"? Do you have a flowering tree in mind (= "beautiful")? Most flowering trees shed excessively.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 6:42PM
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Dick_Sonia(Sunset 17)

One could easily make the case that a deciduous tree would entail a smaller clean-up chore overall. The only difference between a deciduous tree and an evergreen one is that deciduous trees shed their leaves en masse in the fall whereas evergreens constantly shed individual leaves whenever their lifespan is over. With a deciduous tree, you would have one or two main cleanups in the fall. With an evergreen, you'll constantly be having to pick up a half-dozen or so leaves every other day (if you want to be that prissy about it).

I wouldn't plant anything there. Sounds like you view plants as more of a nuisance than an amenity. Fallen leaves are a natural part of having an outdoor room -- a pleasant reminder that this in an outdoor living space, not your living room.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 1:10PM
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monsoon99(Z9 CA)

Yes gardenguru, I am assuming that an evergreen may shed less but dick seems to have shed some further light on this issue. By small I am thinking no taller than 10-12 feet and it does not have to be a flowering tree if those shed more. How about an olive tree that does not bear fruit?

Dick: I would not make this post if I viewed plants as a nuisance. If you read the post carefully, I said that this tree is nearly stuck to a bbq area, that is why the concern over excessive shedding. I am very clear about the difference between my living room and an outdoor garden area.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 2:24PM
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Here's some large shrubs that can be pruned up into very nice little "trees" (10-20 feet):

Pittosporum tenuifolium
Pittosporum crassifolium
Pittosporum eugenioides
Rhaphiolepis 'Majestic Beauty'
Fortunella japonica
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
Acacia podalyriifolia
Diospyros kaki 'Izu'

Some of these will take more training than others.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 2:59PM
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still_kris(z17 NoCA)

I would suggest a dwarf conifer. They come in all sizes, shapes and colors and are actually a lot cleaner than the broadleaf evergreens, in my experience. Cryptomerias are my favorite, but there are hundreds of suitable trees from which to choose. Check out Greer's online catalog for some ideas.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 3:01PM
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dwarf podocarpus?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 7:32PM
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My concern would be that you are creating a fire hazard. My free-standing gas Weber is about a foot away from a stucco wall, with good air circulation all around. It is one of the cheapest [least BTUs] gas Weber made. The air 3 or 4 feet above the grill is very hot. That's pretty hard on the plants; I can't imagine a dwarf conifer being too happy getting cooked like that.

Maybe you should put a statue or fountain in that spot instead?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 11:09PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I'd plant a brugmansia. You can trim them up into a beautiful umbrella shape, and the scent is so nice on a patio at night. Just make sure falling blossoms don't land on your hamburger!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 12:30AM
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wanda(Z9 CA)

I've seen Photinia's trained as a tree, maybe not the "showiest" plant, but still attractive and only gets about 8 - 12' tall.
Maybe some sort of Citrus or loquat may work as well.
Pineapple guava (Fejoia sellowiana) may be work looking at too.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 12:27AM
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monsoon99(Z9 CA)

Thanks for the many ideas especially the idea of a shrub instead of a tree. I will have to hit the books to find out what these different plants are and what they look like. I did have a beautiful brugmansia in my garden a few years ago but it did shed a lot although I loved the scent. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 1:59AM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Renee -- your Brugmansia is beautiful! Which one is that? I'm considering a smallish one (5-6' wide, 10-12' tall) in our side yard facing northeast.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 9:44PM
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I just planted a dwarf lemon yesterday that would work really well and a lemon at hand near the BBQ sounds convenient. Al

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 9:38AM
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Calistoga has the right idea: plant a fruiting tree. I would suggest a loquat tree. They're low maintenance and very tough, with delicious fruit.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 12:16PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

How about Schefflera pueckleri, Agonis flexuosa 'After Dark', a multi Chamaedorea plumosa, or Pittosporum angustifolium? These all tend to hold on to their leaves for quite some time, not constantly shedding, and all are evergreen.

Others that make nice smaller sized trees might include Metrosideros collina 'Springfire', Rhaphiolepis 'Majestic Beauty' and Tristaniopsis laurina, but these will tend to shed more frequently, and drop more flowers.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 3:53PM
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