Any suggestions for a nice shade tree for north Texas?

karolokeSeptember 23, 2012

Anyone have a tree they love that isn't too messy? We live just north of Dallas.

We'd like to plant a nice tree that will shade the back of our two-story house and patio as well as be beautiful to look at. Our landscaper said if it were him, he'd put in a Live Oak. I love the branching of mature Live Oaks, but I've heard they are messy, the roots can be problematic, and I'd prefer a tree that would drop it's leaves during the fall/winter so the sunlight can warm the house. A nurseryman suggested a Shumard Red Oak. We have one in front which is beautiful, but my husband isn't crazy about all the acorns, and it would be nice to have beautiful fall color (Ours has not turned red in the 15 years we've had it. Wish I knew why.) I'm thinking maybe a Chinese Pistachio for fall color and they because they're supposed to be great tree for Texas. I've heard not to get a female, but am not sure if we�d be able to tell when we buy one. Does it take them years to mature before they produce berries? (Our Shumard Red oak didn't produce acorns for ten years). We have an October Glory Maple in front that I love because it has strikingly beautiful fall color, and so far hasn't been messy or problematic, but I might want to plant something different in back just for variety. Suggestions?

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ExoticRGVNativesTy(10a TX)

Texas Ash meets all of your requirements. Fall color is excellent, the tree is deciduous, and the fruit is a samara, much like maple seeds.


    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 7:53PM
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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

The only problem with the Texas Ash and other "seed" trees is that those seeds germinate more readily than acorns do. I had a Cedar Elm in the front yard (cut it down a couple years ago) and I'm still finding seedlings popping up. My two red oaks and pecan and live oak (even courtesy of the $#%$^& squirrels) don't spawn as many seedlings in the spring.

I'd suggest that you find a tree that you like that requires the care you're willing to give AND that the "downsides" are ones you're willing to live with.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 10:51PM
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debndal(8a DFW, TX)

The only way you will know if you are getting a male Chinese Pistache is if you buy a cloned tree (only males are cloned). And then you have to trust the store that they are REALLY selling cloned trees. I'd be very careful who I purchased one from, because it will take many years for you to know what you have gotten, and then you are either stuck with a female or stuck with replacing it. I have 2 females, and I absolutely hate them. They are messier than a trash tree. But the males I have seen around (or they are too young to bear fruit yet) are very nice!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 11:16AM
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Thanks for all your help.

Ty, I think we had an ash tree at a previous house. It was a young tree then, and very pretty, but I thought I read or heard later that some types of ash trees are bad for some reason but now I don't remember why. Maybe fore the same reasons you mentioned, tx_ag_95

debndal, thanks for letting me know about buying a cloned tree. That's very helpful if the nursery will actually know if they're cloned or not. Lately I've been noticing a lot of female trees around town with lots of brownish berries that from a distance can look like the tree is dying from the brownish growth. I really don't like the way they look this time of year - another reason to avoid a female tree. So thanks for the advice.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 9:40AM
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I have a Texas Ash and it is a beautiful tree, but it is messy. Seedlings do come up everywhere, but very few of them grow more than a few inches. Maybe it's the shade. Also, mine is suffering from something right now, either borers or the drought, and I'm afraid I might lose it.

I love red oaks. The acorns don't bother me, but I don't care for squirrels and they love the acorns.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 1:41PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

'Fire Dragon' Shantung maple for consistent red fall color.

Regular shantung maple for consistent yellow fall color.

Here is a link that might be useful: Metro Maples

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 7:39AM
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marti8a, I don't care for the squirrels either. We have enough in our front yard!

lou, I'll have to consider the Fire Dragon Shantung. I love the fall color of my October Glory maple. Do you know of any potential problems with Shantung maples?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 6:52PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Shantung is a very hardy maple. It's on Texas Superstar plant list. Metro Maples had some in sandy soil that went the entire summer in 2011 without any water and they survived with no apparent problems.

Sadly, Metro Maples doesn't have any 'Fire Dragon' available this fall. You may be able to get one online at Sooner Farms.

I had 4 Fire Dragon plus other cultivars at my old house in Midlothian but my wife got a new job in Austin because she wanted to be closer to her family. I'm starting all over again at the new house in a couple months when it gets built. :-/

Here is a link that might be useful: Sooner Plant Farm

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 7:12PM
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The seven trees Neil Sperry recommends are:

- Shumard Red Oak
- Live Oak
- Chinkapin Oak
- Bur Oak
- Chinese Pistatio
- Cedar Elm
- Easter Red Cedar

Ash trees look great but are more prone to borers that to others.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 10:08PM
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Thanks Lou and Ted. I don't think we'll go with an oak just because we don't want the acorns. I've asked a few nurserymen and they can't be sure whether their Chinese Pistachios are male or female. One nursery employee told me they can only tell for sure in the spring right before they leaf out when they produce clusters of some kind. I don't really want to risk getting a female. So I'll look into the Shantung Maple more if I can find any locally. I've seen Autumn Blaze Maples. I'm not sure how they differ from the Shantung Maples or my October Glory Maple.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 11:43PM
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