fast growing shade tree

nova0929September 4, 2011

We moved into a new house with no shade trees and it is HOT here in Pasadena! We are only living here for the next 8 years so I'd love to plant trees that will provide shade quickly! AND I would love to find trees that don't lose their leaves in the winter because it can be hot here year-round. Would love to have a shady backyard.

I am very interested in Royal Empress Paulownia (30 ft in 3 yrs!) BUT they lose their leaves in the Winter. Other fast-growing trees are crepe myrtles (but only 3-5 ft/year). (I've been looking on the web page

Or -- because it's such a mild climate, do trees NOT go dormant or lose their leaves in the winter??

And, of course you know that it doesn't rain here about April-October.

Thank you! I'm new to southern California!

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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Hi there nova, and welcome to California.

I looked up the DG ratings of and they were very bad. I would avoid that place.

A beautiful and fast-growing evergreen is Deodar Cedar. They do very well in Pasadena, and they are a stately and elegant tree.

I love my California Pepper but many people consider them to be weeds. Very fast-growing and evergreen.

California Sycamores are fast growing, but they are deciduous.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 1:36AM
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Oh, I should say that there is a sprinkler system in the backyard (we are renting - landlord says it's okay to plant trees!)- so the trees will get regular watering in the summer.

Thank you for your ideas!

Love the idea of the California Pepper.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 1:53AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

You mention a sprinkler system, does that mean you have a lawn in the back yard? All trees drop a certain amount of litter, pepper trees drop more than their share. In a previous property my back yard was up against high school property, and I needed a screen,SOON. I bought seven Ligustrum grown as a tree. No foliage for the first six feet, planted across my back fence, all the foliage was above the fence. They grew fast but I could not grow under them, as the feeder roots were so close to the surface, and took all the moisture and nutrients. I also had a pepper tree and could not grow under that either. Al

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 10:04AM
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Oh yes, there is a lawn in the backyard, and we have two kids who loves to run around in the yard.

Did the Ligustrum drop black berries on the ground? We had shade trees in the last house we rented and the black berries gunked up our bare feet.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 12:21PM
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Don't plant the California Pepper! They are invasive trees that are spreading into California's natural areas and destroying ecosystems.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 3:41PM
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Human disturbances (excessive fire frequency, land clearing, overgrazing) degrade native plant communities. The trees are a symptom, not the problem (they have no capacity to create the disturbance they require for their propagation). The California Invasive Plant Council describes Schinus molle's impact as limited (least concern): "Limited: These species are invasive but their ecological impacts are minor on a statewide level or there was not enough information to justify a higher score (certainly not the case with this species, it's one of the highest profile non-natives in the state). Their reproductive biology and other attributes result in low to moderate rates of invasiveness. Ecological amplitude and distribution are generally limited, but these species may be locally persistent and problematic."

They are certainly one of the more visible non natives established in California, but it wouldn't make my top ten list of problematic plants.


Here is a link that might be useful: Schinus molle

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 12:52AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Chezron, I couldn't find any information about this. Are you sure you don't mean Brazilian Pepper tree? Those are invasive in wet areas, it seems.

I have never experienced any seedling problems with the female Cal. Pepper tree (schinus molle) next door (mine is male), and I water twice a week.

I think the biggest problem in a place like Pasadena is their eventual size. Mine is huge! They can lose limbs and rip out of the ground pretty easily too. Very expensive to maintain when they get big.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 2:56AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I'd suggest consulting the Sunset Western Garden Book, or check it out.from your local public library. The have one list labelled fast growing plants that would point you in the direction, but would also allow you to cross reference each possible choice with their individual plusses or minuses. Most of the fastest growing trees do present drawbacks, various species of Eucalyptus, Acacia or Melaleuca are relatively fast growing evergreen trees that are well adapted to Pasadena conditions and also low water rewuirements

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 4:27PM
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Have you looked into Chinese elms?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 11:26AM
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I have been very happy with a Fruitless Mulberry planted on the west side of my house. Shade in summer and allows warm sun in the winter ... we do have some hot days in the winter, but not that many. Also, I find the leafless stage to be no more than 2 or 3 months. Also, my children loved climbing the tree.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 2:40PM
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Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)

Brachichiton Populneus are very fast growers!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 11:18PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

First of all: how much space do you have? That's the first thing.

Match the tree to the space, and forget the "fast growing" part. No matter what you plant, it's going to be fairly fast growing here because the growing season is about 50 weeks a year. In my neighborhood, a group of Crape Myrtles planted from 15 gallon pots are providing beautiful shade two years after planting.

The faster growing a tree is, the more problems it usually has: invasive roots that kills all the lawn and buckles the pavement (and possibly your home's foundation), litter that rots and draws flies, reseeding everywhere. "Fast" comes at a price.

You don't want a tree within 10 feet of your house, and 15 feet is better. Even though you are only going to be there a few years, do you really want to leave a headache for the next homeowner, or create an obvious problem that reduces your home's resale value?

Need fast shade? Put up an umbrella or shade structure. It's instant. Then start taking walks around your neighborhood, and look for the prettiest tree that will fit the space you have available. Take your time, keep looking, and find the right tree that really belongs in the space, and plant that. You will be happier and you will leave a thoughtful legacy for the next homeowner, instead of a big problem that is going to cost big bucks to cut down.

The #1 reason trees are cut down is that they are too big for the space they are planted in. Save a life--plant the right sized tree.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 6:09PM
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