2 new trees for suburban front yard

julia42(9a)November 4, 2010

We have a couple of trees in our front yard that I'm pretty sure are going to need to be replaced soon (HOA requires replacement, not just removal). The areas they will be planted are each about 30' x 25', with the street on one side and the house on the opposite side. The current trees are planted about 15' from the house, although I suppose I could plant the new ones a little further out.

The trees on the HOA's "approved" list are Live Oak, Shumard Red Oak, Nuttall Oak, Laurel Oak, and Drummond Red Maple - other species will require special permission. These all seem a little large to be planted that close to the house to me - am I wrong about that? Our house is certainly not unique in it's yard size and plenty of other people have big Live Oaks planted that close to their house, but it always seemed to me to have been a stupid move... I know the maple is more vertical and not as wide, so maybe it would be okay? I'll have its leaves in my gutters, though.

Does anyone have any other tree suggestions for me that aren't on the list? Like I said, I could try for special permission. Remember, this is the front yard, so I'm guessing the HOA won't approve something that's very unusual. Also, I have to be able to find it in a large size (45 gallon or larger). Our soil is your typical Houston alkaline clay soil. The area they'd be planted in has pretty decent drainage for Houston...

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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

More to look at...

Shantung maple
Bald cypress
Montezuma cypress (evergreen/semi-evergreen sister of bald cypress)
Mexican white oak - alternative to Live oak for oak wilt problem areas. Fast growth. More upright than live oak.
Southern Sugar maple

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 8:44AM
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My understanding is that cypresses can be a pain to mow around because of the knees. I know that Shantung Maples are very desirable trees, but I've never been fond of the shape, myself. Also, I wonder if I could get one in a large enough size.

I really like the Mexican White Oak suggestion - I'm going to look into that some more. I'm not sure if I've seen one in real life though - I need to drive around and see if I can find one to look at.

Another one I always like is Lacebark Elm. I find a lot of varying information online as to its spread, though. Some sources say 30'-40', others say 60'.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 10:21AM
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icon7(TX 8B/9A)

if you are in a suburs that is part of a master planned community you have to go with the trees they suggest. I agree the Mexican white oak maybe a good deal. Drummond Red Maple is also a nice tree, but you will have to rake up those leaves. Maybe plant 1 of each.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 8:46PM
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drasaid(zone 8)

What is with these HOA people's dislike of edible trees? Why can't you plant a fruiting pear or pecan? Do they despise squirrels or something? Or does this keep out deer and pigs (as if anything would).

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 7:49AM
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Well, no, the HOA's tree list specifically says that you can put in a request if you'd like to plant something else. Who knows how likely they'd be to grant that request... I'm thinking Mexican White Oak might stand a good chance since I could make the case that it's a large, quality tree and is more resistant to oak wilt than any of the others on their list.

I personally don't really want a fruiting tree. I might if it were further away from the house, but I don't really want my roof (and attic) to become the hangout place for all the neighborhood squirrels and mice...

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 8:03AM
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Also, here's a question. If the HOA won't approve the Mexican White Oak, which tree on the list would you go with? I like live oak a lot, but I think they maybe have too large of a spread, plus every other house has them here. I was thinking maybe the Nuttal Oak or the maple? Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 8:08AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Well, Mexican White oak could pass as Live Oak to untrained eyes. It's evergreen oak in Houston. Most may not even notice the difference between Live oak and Mexican white oak. You could say that it "appears" to be a live oak with big leaves. Ha ha.

Nuttal Oak is pretty nice. They drop leaves cleanly unlike Shumard oak which can hang onto dead leaves through the winter.

My understanding about bald cypress and its knee is that they happen if the ground is constantly saturated but who knows? There's this big one not far from where I live and I didn't see any knees. Montezuma cypress is much less likely to produce knees.

For lacebark elm, I like 'Bosque' cultivar because of it's clean upright form. Some can be wild looking with wide spread. I've noticed that they can be really weedy because of millions of small seeds and they grow fast!

Drasiad - HOA's rules over trees are for the front yard only. You can plant whatever you want in the backyard, I think.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 8:57AM
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Also, these are the HOA rules for replacing one or both of the 2 large trees required in the front yard by the HOA. I see plenty of neighbors with "extra" trees in their front yard that are fruiting - bananas, pomegranates, figs, pecans...

I've heard lots of horror stories about HOAs, but from what I gather, ours is fairly reasonable.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 9:41AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

It also depends on who run HOA board every year. Some are scary, short of communists... I read one story where the HOA board got all sissy over this homeowner buying a regular brand new F 150 Ford Truck. They demanded that he buy "LUXURY" truck! Crazy...

Mine threatened me with restraining order to keep me from planting any more trees or "beautifying" the park when HOA board barely did anything but waste thousands of dollars on TruGreen and stuff. Now I hear that they are complaining about not having enough money. I tried to outline everything to save money and they never followed my advices.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 10:43AM
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icon7(TX 8B/9A)

Lou, no kidding! my HOA require Bermuda grass and 2 live oaks trees per 50 foot of space in front yards. I think it is also a City ordinance. I would much rather have a some what taller growing narrower tree. As you have seen, I made up with tons of variety in the backyard ;)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 10:44PM
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ltruett(Zone, 9 Houston)

A mexican white oak would be a good choice if you are trying to keep a similar look to a live oak. They should be evergreen but grow more upright which would fit in better. Where I live they planted 4 live oaks in the front yard which is asinine. I really like live oaks but not 4 in a small area. I have cut down one and planning to get rid of another one.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 10:27AM
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Fwiw, Mexican White/Monterrey oaks are a completely different shape (a lot more upright) than Live oaks, and their leaves are two to three times as big. They are also a lighter green, and the new growth is a little pink. I know I'm a tree nerd, but I'm not sure anyone could mistake the one for the other.

...Not to discourage you. =) I have ten MOs and a zillion LOs and I like them both.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 1:05PM
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debndal(8a DFW, TX)

I wonder what the HOA is going to say in 20 years when no one can grow grass or nice shrubs in their yards because of the shade. Not to be nitpicky, but a little foresight goes a long way. If everybody has large trees, there won't be any sun at all.
I'd go with whichever one is the most upright, slowest growing, and smallest mature size.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 5:09PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


Slowest growing? Lol. Try saying that in the middle of the summer when it's over 100*F and everybody wants shade 100 years ago.

One large upright fast high quality is perfectly enough for small front yard, not 4 live oak that I see every yard at this neighborhood. Mexican White Oak, Montezuma Cypress, Shumard red oak and a couple others great trees for that purpose. When you get upright tall trees, you can raise canopy very high easily and you get the feeling of a lot of space underneath compared to small tree.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 9:34PM
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debndal(8a DFW, TX)

Maybe I misunderstood. I thought the OP said they have to replace, not remove, 2 (count 'em...2) trees in the front yards. You can also get plenty enough shade from neighbor's trees too. I'm just saying, that if every yard has to have 2 large trees like live oaks, there won't be any sun in 20 years and the understory won't look so good. Might be a subject to bring up to the HOA. My neighborhood is 25 years old, and I can't count the number of trees that have been removed because when they were planted as 3" caliper trees 20 years ago, homeowners didn't realize that in 15-20 years, they would not be able to grow grass from all the shade, and the shrubs look spindly - not to mention the ugly surface tree roots on the bare soil. Maybe in 20 years the HOA will be dissolved or won't care.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 11:05PM
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Yes, we currently have 2 Loblolly pines, with some kind of trunk damage (we had 2 certified arborists and a master gardener come look at them). They can probably last a while, so we don't have to decide tomorrow or anything, but they will probably need to be replaced in the near future. The HOA requires replacement - we all have to have 2 large trees and 2 ornamentals in our yard. Loblolly pine is no longer on the "approved list".

I would love to plant just 1 tree as a replacement for the 2, but I don't think that's going to happen. We don't have an unusually small yard for the neighborhood or anything, so I really don't see how I could make a case for breaking the rules...

I'm leaning towards Shumard Oak at this point. I'm having trouble finding any Mexican White Oaks to get a good look at, and I've decided I'm not crazy about the shape of the Nuttal Oaks.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 9:02AM
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debndal(8a DFW, TX)

My Shumard red oak is 25 years old, and I like it because the canopy isn't so dense that I at least get dappled shade under it. I think you would be happy with it - it's a nice tree.
Wonder how your pines got damaged? Sounds suspicious to me, especially since they are no longer on the approved tree list.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 9:43AM
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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

I'm not sure about Houston, but the Dallas area has had problems with pines in the last decade or so. My neighborhood had a lot of pines planted when the houses were built, as did the park across the street. Most have had some kind of insect damage or infestation causing woodpecker damage. It eventually kills the pine trees, mine went downhill fast.

I think the moral of the story is to plant trees that are native for your area, NOT what you 'want' to grow.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 12:52PM
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Debndal, I'm not really sure about what would be suspect... The arborists ideas ranged from fungal infection to insect infestation to damage from Ike... One said he found a lot of ants under the bark eating at it, but didn't know if that was actually the problem or not. Anyhow, I don't think it's from someone from the HOA trying to take it out or anything (if that's what you were thinking). 50% of the trees in our subdivision are pines - they'd have a lot of damage to do if they were trying to sabotage pine trees... The other 50% of course are live oaks.

It does seem like a lot of people in the area are having trouble with the pine trees that went in when the neighborhood was built. My guess is that's why they're no longer on the approved tree list.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 2:17PM
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