Drought tolerant tree for 15 ft front yard with wall

hbgardeningSeptember 1, 2011

I am looking for recommendations for a drought tolerant tree for my Los Angeles (zone 10) front yard which is about 12-15 feet deep and held up by a retaining wall. I want to try to find a tree with a root system that will not affect the wall. I'd love a tree with leaf coverage for most of the year - . Does anyone have any recommendations?

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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

This is a pretty tree, and here it is growing in a raised planter. It's Metrosideros collina 'Springfire'.

Here is a link that might be useful: Metrosideros collina 'Springfire'

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 1:52AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I agree that this could be a good choice for your situation,with the caveat that it is probably best if used in parts of LA with coastal influence and little frost. The photo is from a garden I designed and installed here in the Berkeley hills. It prefers frost free conditions but will take limited cold to 25f for brief periods with some minor damage, and is best used as a multi-trunked large shrub or small tree to 15 feet tall. It has the heaviest bloom in spring thru fall,and a combination of soft silvery gray mature foliage contrasting with flushes of pale green new leaves. It also has a peculiar habit of forming aerial roots along the lower trunks in areas with summer fog influence, which are bright red when tough.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 10:12AM
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I have M. Springfire and also M. Gala right next to one another. They both grow relatively fast, both are evergreen, tidy. They don't get big. Both of mine are rather narrow and upright but perhaps that is where I am growing them. Springfire has larger, more orange flowers. Gala has deeper red flowers. Springfire has larger slightly lighter color leaves. Otherwise they are both very similar in growth habit.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 4:22PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Beautiful garden, Bahia. I love that photo!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 3:03AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Oh, duh. It's your photo album! I just picked the prettiest photo from Google without looking at the source!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 3:04AM
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jane_socal(Sunset 23/z10)

For a very airy-looking drought tolerant tree you could consider Palo verde 'Desert Museum'.

Here is a link that might be useful: Desert Museum description

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 8:58PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Or the black Agonis, 'After Dark'. Clean, and well-behaved root system. But the Metrosideros looks like a great choice!

Now the Palo verde is gorgeous, but doesn't it have constant litter drop? I think I remember reading that here on the CA forum: beautiful tree, lots of litter.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 7:05PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

How is the root system on 'Springfire' long term, David? Well behaved? Thanks.

'Gala' is a different species, doesn't that get much larger?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 7:11PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

The 'After Dark' Agonis isn't really all that drought tolerant, even here in the less-dry SF Bay Area, it definitely prefers irrigation in my opinion. The Palo Verde is certainly drought tolerant, but no doubt about it constantly dropping leaves, and I'd think it a bit too cool for it to thrive in a zone 24 setting. They respond much better to hot summers and no fog. I'd also suggest looking into some of the smaller growing Acacia spp's, San Marcos Growers nursery has a good descriptive catalog and descriptions. One palm such as Brahea armata or a clumping Chamaerops humilis or a couple/trio of Trachycarpus wagneriana or T. fortunei could also work. Another palm-like smaller tree that I like using in dry tight spaces as an architectural specimen is Cussonia paniculata.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 7:25PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Hoovb, this isn't really a simple yes or no type of question. I haven't found the roots to be an issue for me, as the Metrosideros Collins is very tolerant of both long term container culture with very confined root area, and amenable to close understory plantings close to the trunk, if you limb up or thin out growth to admit light to reach below a typically very dense canopy. The one you see in my photo forms adventitious roots along the trunk that grow down to root into the soil, similar to some Ficus trees, so if you don't like this quality, it may drive you up a wall. I don't really know what ultimate size this plant might reach, because this examplar is only 8 years in the ground, and I prune it once a year to keep it about ten feet tall so it doesn't block the neighbor's view of the bay. The trunks were always a multi from initial planting, and are about a foot clear of the wall foundation, close enough that some adventitious roots try to attach themselves occasionally, but they are easily pruned away if done once or twice a year. It tends to be deep rooted of soils allow, and the roots will also tend to follow any water, so definitely don't plant over leaky sewer or water pipes. The roots are amazingly dense growing and quite vigorous, a quality in combination with the waxy/fuzzy foliage which gives it it's salt and wind tolerance near the beach. If planted in a tight situation, I'd say the ideal would be to plant 3 or 4 feet away from structures, and expect that it might grow to 18 feet tall by across with age.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2011 at 12:17PM
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Thank you all for the recommendations (sorry for the late thanks -) all things considered - I am thinking that I will probably go with the Springfire'.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2011 at 5:39PM
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