Pine or Sequoia?

skrip(z9/sun19/SoCal.)March 15, 2007

I dont have a big yard, and would like to create more of a forest/park feel. I dont have any large trees, just 2 citruses. It is pretty much a squared yard, with a lawn, and planters bordering on 3 sides. I am thinking about curving a planter out a bit in order to plant a forest type tree. It would get water from sprinklers, and also it would be close to the house, about 12 feet from it.

Ive gone to nurseries and checked out the various species of pines. I think the canary island pine (canariensis) is the one that would work well for me. It is tall and not as wide as an eldarica pine. But I also saw young Torreyina pines that resemble the canariensis. On the web there are many different descriptions, growing conditions, etc. but they leave me confused.

As for the sequoia, I really like the young aptos blue and soquel, they look very cool and foresty. There is also the dawn redwood, but alot appear very similar. I wonder which is the smallest one, but that still grows fast. Now I know these trees can be monsters, but in my lifetime?

Anyways, I would like to hear Southern California gardener's experience and/or recommendations and any other opinions regarding my situation. At least I got it down to 2 types of trees... but the deodar cedars look cool as well, but i think you guys get the look I want.


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I don't know a whole lot about the trees you're talking about, I like cedars but after living in the mtns wouldn't want one in my yard. We planted a coastal redwood in our back yard. It's about 25 feet from the house. I figure it'll be someone else's problem one day when it's really big. Our granddaughter likes to say when it gets as tall as the two story behind us we'll be dead:) And that's exactly why we wanted a big tree too for privacy. It grows about 6 feet a year. We like it because it's a pretty even growing tree and not a "messy" dropping needles tree and it's an attractive looking tree.

So, my vote is on the redwood, I looked up the two you mentioned in the Western Garden book but there wasn't any info on height. A good nursery ought to be able to tell you how tall/wide a tree will get.

I've got a new neighbor who planted two of these coastal redwoods within 5 feet of his dining room. That'll be interesting in about 10 years.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 7:25PM
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Remember with redwoods, their roots are very shallow. You won't be able to plant anything under it. My neighbor got one 15 years ago, it's a very large tree and now it has to be cut down, due to the shallowness of the root system close to the house.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 8:31PM
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redwood will grow fast, but drops litter, branches can break in winds, and i wouldn't want one real close to my house.
pines can become wide, shading a lot of area, roots are shallow and spread a good distance from good thing is they can be limbed up so you can get light under the trunk...they do drop pine needles.
considered cupressus? tall, narrow evergreens that have a formal, park-like look. there are your standard everyday dark green ones and there are some neat varieties that have a more yellow or golden foliage. no maintenance. you could plant 3 in a line or on a curve or something like that. these are good for a small yard.
some junipers make nice picturesque smaller trees too. no maintenance to them either.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 12:37PM
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hmm, cupressa, like cypresses? I dont want anything that thick. The idea is to have a nice tree, that can have a bit of canopy, somewhat airy, but to be a pine/redwood. I just love the smell/look of those trees when Im in the mountains.

As for the redwood, that does sound scary to plant it 5 feet from a dining room. But I guess if you dont mind cutting it down in a decade or so, then its fine. Didnt know the roots were that bad either. So I think as far as the redwood goes, how long do I plan to be here is the question, or at least how long do i plan to own my property too. With the price of housing and our country going down the drain economically, I might stay here longer than I had hoped for.

Im still looking around at nurseries... will keep asking people questions I guess, and draw my own conclusion. Its seeming to me like the pine might be the best choice, but the type of pine is what i need to know for my situation.

As for the redwood, it seems to me it is more fitting to go ahead and plant one toward the back of my yard. I had this area also in my mind for a pine/redwood. It is perhaps about 25 feet from my house, and it border my neighbors backyard.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 4:28PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Our Canary Island Pine sent surface roots everywhere. We could not grow anything at all within 25 feet of ours because it sucked up every drop of water in the yard. It also dropped a hail of needles constantly. The people who bought our old house cut it down. Good for them.

Planting any large tree within 12' of your house is a bad idea.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 5:37PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I think you need to decide if you really want a tree that will get over a 100 feet tall in time. Pinus canariensis get absolutely huge, as do Coast Redwoods. Also, redwoods do not do nearly as well in hotter inland areas of southern California where they may get stressed by smog and Santa Ana winds, and need alot of water to stay green. Slightly smaller growing pines such as the Jelecote Pine/Pinus patula might be a better choice, or Japanese Black Pine. Deodar Cedars are possibly a better choice for inland southern California, as they are much more tolerant of smog and hot winds.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 1:49AM
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I'm surprised that no one has suggested P. contorta, since it's listed in Sunset as being one of the best for small gardens. Maybe there are some issues with it of which I'm unaware, though.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 12:41PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

None of the native California closed cone pine species is at their best in inland southern California conditions; they resent the smog, the Santa Ana winds, and will be much more prone to disease and insect problems. It is a different world between the north coast and hot, smoggy southern California conditions.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 1:26AM
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Hmm, if pines can't survive that well, why are they EVERYWHERE around here? From El Monte, Covina to Claremont & Pomona, they are everywhere. People have them in their front yards, backyards, and the cities have them in the street islands. They are on the freeways. There are full lawns with them in there and there is no 'dead' area around the pine tree base. And there are different types, because of their needles and growth style too.

If the planting areas around them become dead, perhaps its lack of maintenance. I work in my garden just about every weekend cleaning it up, so the needles and trash would be pretty much clear all the time.

I have looked at the Japanese Black Pine, and it sounds like it would work. But it certainly looks like a very slow grower, and that is not what I want. It will get sprinkler water often as well.

I have also taken a look at the Norfolk Island Pine. It is quite a bit overused around here, but it seems like it wouldnt be as aggressive with it root system and it wouldnt litter much. Not exactly what Im looking for, but it might work.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 11:45AM
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