What Tree to plant against pool? No palms.

korenhomeJuly 22, 2014

We've got a 40' pool and I want height in the middle but the space between the pool and retaining wall is only 4' plus I don't want the roots to damage the pool. Maybe I should stick to a shrub? I was thinking a crape myrtle?

It's full sun. Zone 9/10.

Thanks in advance!

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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Sunset Western Garden Book has a whole section on "what to plant around swimming pools" that might be worth your while to look over. Available at most libraries if you don't want to buy it.

If you only have 4' of space, yes, you likely want something like a medium shrub. Keep in mind that a medium shrub can be 15' tall or more, tall enough to provide shade and privacy.

Crape Myrtles are beautiful trees, but a couple of things: they are heat lovers--are you inland or close to the coast? Along the coast they get terrible mildew. The other thing: their pretty flowers are going to fall into your pool. Their leaves are going to fall into your pool when they fall off in October. Is that going to be okay?

Look at the bronze ornamental Loquat, Eriobotrya delflexa. Can be kept smallish, is quite clean. Root damage rated as low. Another idea if you are reasonably close to the ocean, say within 10 miles, is one of the selections of Pittosporum tenuifolium (not the species as it gets quite large) that stay under 15-20'. They are quite clean and don't drop a lot of litter, and the growth habit is narrow-ish. Fatsia japonica is another shrub to consider. Also quite clean, but it needs some shade.

Keep in mind anything that gets somewhat large will need to be removed eventually. Roots keep growing. The larger the shrub or tree, the more roots it is going to have.

What is the purpose of the plantings? A large trellis with a vine growing on it will give height, decoration and privacy in a narrower profile. Vine selection should be done with care, as some vines get enormous, with corresponding root systems.

Here is a link that might be useful: bronze loquat @ selectree

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 2:26AM
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Thank you so much for the tips! We are inland. It gets really hot out here 100 degrees and winters are mild; lucky if we get any rain.

The reason for plants is privacy and to soften up the hardscape all around. I thought about crape myrtle but wasn't sure if the roots would penetrate the pool wall.

We've only want about 5' In height and willing to maintain it.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 2:35AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

You have so little room and you need a modest height so look at Bignonia capreolata 'Tangerine Beauty' or Pandorea jasminoides 'Rosea' vines to grow on you fence. In the long run it would give you privacy and floral display for not a lot of effort or problems. The 'Tangerine Beauty' in particular gets nice and dense on a wrought-iron fence so will give you good privacy.

After the vines are established for a few years, if you want to repaint your fence, you can just cut the vines to the ground and they will all grow back fresh, quite quickly.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 2:58AM
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Thank you for vine suggestions! I will have to see if our HOA allows vines to grown on the fence.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 3:06AM
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Ninkasi(6ish Germany)

My parents have some Italian cypress around their pool in Arizona for privacy. They look good, and maybe that would work. They have the massive ones, and they are doing quite well despite direct sun and heat. In your situation, go for a dwarf variety, not the big guys. From what I understand the roots are fibrous and pretty adaptable. But if you go this route maybe check with an expert first. Don't plant them too close together to allow for air flow and their eventual size. Then just make sure they get enough water from the onset to get a good start. Pretty low maintenance after that.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 3:17AM
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Ninkasi(6ish Germany)

Alternatively for the same look you could go for skyrocket juniper. That is a much more compact shrub.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 3:57AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

If you only need 5 feet of height, you have a ton of options. You could go with grasses like Vetiver, all kinds of shrubs like lavender, rosemary, dwarf pittosporum, salvias, and even some herbaceous perennials get that big.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:27AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I think angels trumpet would be nice to plant. They can be like a small tree.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 12:56AM
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I have a similar problem with a very small space, about 4-5 feet, between the back of the pool and the cinder block wall on our back property line. The shoestring acacia is said to be, "One of the best trees to plant near pools," as it produces very little litter. In my experience, so far this has been the case. It's about 20 feet tall and I don't see any litter from it...and I'm gardening every weekend. Here's the one we have now growing near what we call Hedgezilla, which we planted around the pool originally, and which we hope to tear out at some point and replace with more shoestrings and a pleasing mix of other non-litter producing trees for privacy. By the way, I hate palms. Whenever we get big winds, what do we get in our pool? Palm litter from the neighbors' ubiquitous palms!

Here is a link that might be useful: Shoestring acacia

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 12:16AM
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After some research, I also found a tree that looks very interesting, the Swan Hill fruitless olive. There are two other varieties, a Majestic Beauty and Wilsonii, both of which are said to be "virtually fruitless", but the Swan Hill looks to be really and truly fruitless, and therefore, good around pools. They are only sold in 24" boxes for the purpose of preventing verticillium wilt, which means they are expensive. You can look on the Swan Hill site and you can find nurseries near you that can order it. Another site I looked at warned people to be very careful that they get a genuine Swan Hill because they ordered the Swan Hills from a supposedly reputable nursery in their area and got something else that several years later had to be removed because they fruited (they were not Swan Hills). At some point, we plan to revamp our backyard and the pool, and I plan to seriously look into the Swan Hill then.

Here's the url for the Swan Hill site which you'll have to copy and paste into your browser since we can only post one link below: http://www.swanhill.com/

This site compares the different varieties: http://www.ehow.com/list_6938035_varieties-olive-trees.html

Here is a link that might be useful: Fruitless olive

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 1:02AM
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I think the standard would be...Giant Bird of Paradise for soucal. And if a stem starts to get too tall....cut it back to the right height. I've seen them kept at 10' or so of green leaves.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 3:32PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Giant Bird of Paradise in that narrow planter? Those things form 10 foot diameter clumps.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 4:04PM
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I don't have anything to add except I HATE palms too!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 6:15PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

The only issue with olives is the do litter. They drop their leaves and that's going to be an issue with the pool. Even this cultivar is going to have leaf drop. I have several different cultivars of olives - ornamental and producing, and they all drop leaves. Some cultivars worse than others. I have over 30 olive trees all together, and they all litter to some extent, even 'Little Ollie' (Olea europaea 'Montra').

A nice choice would be a row of semi-dwarf citrus trees pruned to standards (lower branches pruned off, so you have a slightly taller canopy, but the semi-dwarfing rootstock to keep height down to 8-10'). You'll have the benefit of great fruit, nearly zero leaf drop, and a very lovely looking tree-line screen. Roots will not be an issue - citrus are relatively shallow rooted and not invasive.

Also, consider taller Grevilleas such as 'Canberra Gem' (gorgeous hot pink flowers), 'Bonfire' (also hot pink flowers), 'Firesprite' (red-orange flowers), 'Little Honey' (yellow flowers), 'Moonlight' (lovely white creamy flowers), 'Red Hooks' (large red flowers).

Another nice option could be a row of tree hibiscus. We have two near our pool, and very little litter (flowers do drop, but easily picked up or screened out), and they are lovely all year 'round, either in bloom or just green.

Pittosporum phillyreoides (Desert Willow) or Pittosporum tobira (Japanese Mock Orange is an option with pretty variegated foliage and very hardy, super easy to take care of. Only downside is they can drop small pea-sized fruits.

Callistemons may also be an option. Callistemon 'Jeffers' - Purple Bottlebrush, Callistemon viminalis Slim (I have this in my yard, it has a lovely weeping habit, very pretty), Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid'. All grow tall and are amenable to pruning to create a nice thick screen.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 9:53PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Maybe you will just have to clean your pool. Everything alive drops leaves or pollen. We have Sago palms around our pool, and they don't do much, but there are trees much farther away and the wind blows their stuff into the pool.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 9:58PM
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I don't mind the mess :) just didn't want a plant to break through the cement like a ficus tree.

Thank you all for your amazing tips!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 10:30PM
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There is always the standard Bird of Paradise..tops out at 5' or so. Never needs pruning. If you wanted a little different,there is the Juncea form of Bird of Paradise with leaves that are spear like. Its supposed to be even less water needy then the standard form.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 6:46PM
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Bananas! Bonus, they don't drop leaves.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 6:49PM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax and cookianum) don't drop litter unless allowed to flower. There are many varieties, giving you many choices in color and size.

I can understand a preference for plants other than palms, but I don't understand hating an entire class of plants (palms). o_O

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 1:16PM
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Phormiums a good choice. Along those lines are the colorful Cordylines. I mentioned Electric pink on another post. Its not so pinkish..more reddish. They never need pruning,I haven't seem one flower in the 5 or 6 years I've had them. No mess to the extreme. And ,unlike the common Cordyline,the Electrics and the like are shrubby. All that is why they are still a little pricy.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 2:46PM
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gregbradley(Upland, CA USDA 9b Sunset 19)

The Swan Hill Olive is an excellent choice for low litter full size olive tree but I see a huge problem with 4' between the pool and the wall. It will be too big and will be a problem within a few years. The root ball would be big enough in 20 years to break the pool and the wall. Even double the 4' would be tight.

If you buy a Swan Hill Olive, it will have the growers tag and a serial number. They are extremely low litter for an olive. They have virtually no fruit or pollen. They drop leaves at a much slower rate so have much less leaf litter. They don't grow slower than most olives.

Wilsonii is about half the price of Swan Hill but has pollen and grows fruit up to about pea size before they wither and fall off. Because the fruit dries on the tree, the fruit doesn't stain much like regular olives that make a HUGE mess on concrete. They drop leaves at the same rate as regular olives and grow slower.

I took out a 40 year old fruiting olive. All my neighbors have them also. I have a Wilsonii, installed by a landscape architect that originally specified a Swan Hill. I also have a Swan Hill that I planted two years ago as a 5' tall 24" box tree. It is now 10' tall. I'm buying another Swan Hill to put West (upwind) 20' from my pool. There is a Crepe Myrtle 20' North of that, so not upwind from the pool, and it is a constant mess in the pool.

If the downhill neighbors yard isn't really steep, a couple Swan Hills would be great about 5-6' past the fence on their side. Don't forget to plan that a 24" box Swan Hill weighs 600 pounds. I'm looking for a 36" one that weighs 1800 pounds.

This post was edited by GregBradley on Fri, Aug 15, 14 at 21:52

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 9:16PM
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Crape myrtles would be an excellent choice.
They don't have invasive roots, that is why they are planted in parking lots in small spaces.
There are all kinds of crapes, you don't have to buy a large one at all.
Many varities only get about 6-8 ft tall at maturity, and you could easily trim them if you want.
I would go with them, easy to care for.
They have beautiful colors too, so mnay to choose from.
At least they are safe for that space.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 10:00PM
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