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Please Recommend a Drought-Tolerant Tree for Small Yard

Posted by wobsie 10 (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 4, 09 at 17:24

Please recommend a tree for our small frontyard in suburban San Diego. The yard is about 50'x25', south-facing, and currently empty. We're looking for something that is drought-tolerant, and relatively small, since our house is just 1-story. I'd like something deciduous so that we have shade in the summer and sun in the winter. My spouse thinks that won't make much difference.

So far our first choice is Japanese Maple based on appearance and size. We're also thinking of Crape Myrtle, which was recommended as a good shade tree by Center for Sustainable Energy. We looked at some plum trees at a nursery today, which looked good.

I'd like to hear other recommendations. Thanks.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Please Recommend a Drought-Tolerant Tree for Small Yard

  • Posted by dicot Los Angeles (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 4, 09 at 19:07

Flowering members of Prunus are probably fine, but fruiting plums are messy and not that drought tolerant. Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) is nice IMO.


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RE: Please Recommend a Drought-Tolerant Tree for Small Yard

None of your three choices -- Japanese Maple, Crape Myrtle, plums -- are anything close to drought-tolerant. I am thinking that the Center for Sustainable Energy is not a California organization and is only looking at the fact that the crape myrtle is deciduous (summer cool, winter warmth).

Here's a better start:

Acacia baileyana Bailey Acacia

Aesculus californica California Buckeye

Arbutus unedo Strawberry Tree

Celtis australis Southern Hackberry

Cercocarpus ledifolius Curl-leaf Mahogany

Cotinus coggygria Smoke Tree

Eriobotrya deflexa Bronze Loquat

Feijoa sellowiana Pineapple Guava

Geijera parviflora Australian Willow

Koelreuteria paniculata Goldenrain Tree

Parkinsonia aculeata Jerusalem Thorn

Pistacia atlantica Mount Atlas Pistache

Pistacia chinensis Chinese Pistache

Prunus lyonii Catalina Cherry

Zizphus jujuba Chinese Jujube

And it might help to know what you consider small. A "small tree" is 20-30 feet. Is that "small" enough? Could be you want a large shrub, pruned up as a single-trunked "tree" or limbed up as a multiple-trunked "tree" (some of the above).

Joe


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RE: Please Recommend a Drought-Tolerant Tree for Small Yard

Besides being deciduous and drought tolerant, think about how you will use the area under the tree. How tolerant are you for the droppings from the tree? Will you want to grow any plants under the tree? So often it takes several years to recognize our choice of a shade tree was a mistake. Al


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RE: Please Recommend a Drought-Tolerant Tree for Small Yard

  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 6, 09 at 23:56

Japanese Maples do better with morning sun/afternoon shade and most certainly are not drought-tolerant. In nature they are an understory tree (a small tree that grows in the shade of larger trees). The foliage gets toasted in full sun unless you are right along the ocean. They are nice in large (watered) pots on a covered patio where they get a little morning sun but shade in the hottest part of the day.


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RE: Please Recommend a Drought-Tolerant Tree for Small Yard

Cercidium, Palo Verde.


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RE: Please Recommend a Drought-Tolerant Tree for Small Yard

You can go with a Loquat they get to about 10ft tall on average.


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RE: Please Recommend a Drought-Tolerant Tree for Small Yard

I planted a Sambucus Mexicana (Mexican/Blue Elderberry) in my front yard in coastal South Orange County and am very happy with the result. Once established, it is drought tolerant, with white flowers in spring and small blue berries throughout the summer. Birds eat most of the berries before they hit the ground. It is deciduous and tops out at about 20 feet in height. Look for it at native plant nurseries.

One note: It must be trained as a tree, as its natural shape is more like a shrub, so it is best to start with a small (1-gallon size) plant. Given plenty of water, mine shot up ten feet the first year I planted it, so it was easy to shape into a tree.


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RE: Please Recommend a Drought-Tolerant Tree for Small Yard

Thanks to everyone for their responses. I guess we have to rule out Japanese Maple since our front yard is south-facing and gets full sun.

We were visualizing a tree with foliage that is full and rounded, and about 5-6 feet off the ground. We don't want anything shrub-like mainly for aesthetic reasons. We'd like the tree to shade the house in the summer and allow the sun to come through in the winter.

Below the tree, we'll have succulents and drought-tolerant plants, with much of the ground cover being pea gravel.

I'm still looking up all the various suggested trees on the web to see what they look like... but please keep your suggestions coming! Also, if you can recommend a good nursery in the San Diego area, I'd appreciate those as well!


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RE: Please Recommend a Drought-Tolerant Tree for Small Yard

I'd recommend Chitalpa. It's a drought tolerant hybrid of Chilopsis, mentioned earlier, and Catalpa. Has the best of both. Long flowering season in the warm months, deciduous in the winter. Well behaved front yard tree. Crape Myrtles are fine....get a mildew resistant variety! Also, there's another, darn, can't recall atm. it's well behaved, drought tolerant, and a distant citrus relative. Used quite a bit in landscapes now. narrow, willowy leaves....it'll come to me


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RE: Please Recommend a Drought-Tolerant Tree for Small Yard

  • Posted by dicot Los Angeles (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 11, 09 at 15:56

Tree of Life nursery off the 74 is one of my favorite nurseries for drought tolerant plants, 33201 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano.


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