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what trees to plant in Socorro yard

Posted by texasjg Socorro NM (My Page) on
Fri, Jun 15, 12 at 13:12

My apologies to anyone who reads the Arizona forum, as I also posted this question over there before I found this forum (which I think is more appropriate and will post here in the future).

I recently moved to Socorro, NM (zone 6 or 7 depending on who you ask) 4600' elevation, 9" annual rainfall, high winds in spring) and I would like your input.

There is very little in my yard besides an old mulberry tree on the west side of the house and I'm starting to landscape. I want to add two evergreen trees for shade and birds (full sun, north/south orientation with lots of sun from east/west too). There will be xeriscaping around the trees with shrubs and flowers as you approach the house (1 story adobe). The trees will be planted 5-6' from a masonry wall (just dirt sidewalk and street on the other side of the wall, no power lines) and 15' to 20' from the house.

The trees I am considering are Arizona Cypress, Apache Pine, Afghan Pine and Live Oak (Quercus Fusiformis). Here are my concerns:
* Drought resistance
* Heat resistance
* Cold resistance
* Roots surfacing and damaging the sidewalk or house foundation
* Prefer a fast grower
* Longevity of the tree
* Insect and disease tolerance

Please share your experience with these trees. As they will be in the garden and in full view of the house, I want very attractive trees that will enhance the yard, even as they age. Some pines get scraggly looking at maturity, which worries me. On the other hand, the live oak can have surface root issues. I've also heard that the AZ cypress only lives 20-30 years. Which tree to pick or get 2 different trees like the oak and the cypress? Please share :) Thank you.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: what trees to plant in Socorro yard

There are other oaks that you could consider(evergreen).
Have you looked into Mexican Elder(sambucus mexicana)? I think it would also fit your needs(mostly evergreen-except colder winters). That being said, their are native evergreen oaks without the root issues. See Trees that please in Los Lunas.
Pines, I am not personally familiar with, other than ponderosa and pinon. Neighbors have some afghan that do look nice, but maybe a bit large for the front of a one story.

But you did state this "I want to add two evergreen trees for shade and birds (full sun, north/south orientation with lots of sun from east/west too).". I'll stick with Mexican elder(flowers, evergreen or nearly so, berries, bird magnet, and drought tolerant-native to the Gila).

Here is a link that might be useful: mexican elder in Las Cruces


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RE: what trees to plant in Socorro yard

I live at elevation 2500 ft. Cold winters, hot summers and 3-4" rain per year. My grandma planted 3 afghan pines about 12 years ago. They were on drip irrigation until a couple years ago. Since that time I have not given them any supplemental water. Now they are about 25 ft tall but they are "skinny".... they are not shade trees. They do stand up to the winds and if closely planted would probably be better for shade, maybe with some pruning so you could walk under them or something. The branches do go to the ground. They dont look straggly either. I think it's the Aleppo Pines around here that look straggly? Im not sure what variety it is or maybe it is the Afghans but the culture methods are what makes them straggly looking Im not sure.... In the last couple years I planted 2 more Afghans that were only about 1 1/2 ft tall and I've watered them during the summer time about once a week. They are full and beautiful and about 5 ft tall now! I watered them flood style rather then drip.... I dont know if the roots spread out different (and then the branches get longer and lusher) or if it is the age of the trees? But scale wise, the trees I planted compared to my grandma's look a lot fuller and nicer...


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RE: what trees to plant in Socorro yard

Thanks, everyone. Jwitt, that elder tree does look very nice and someone else suggested that to me, too. I like making jelly from elderberries. Trees that Please website has been a very good source for me, too, good recommendation. I plan to buy my trees from them if possible, and Plantworld in ABQ for the others. Bermuda, I am starting to rethink the big pines, as I think my planting areas are going to be too small for those trees when they mature. Interesting observation about flooding vs. drip for growing trees.


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RE: what trees to plant in Socorro yard

A few comments:
5-6' feet from a masonry wall isn't far enough, you need to be at least 10'.

Arizona Cypress-high allergens, it's a big tree but it lives a very long time, >50 years isn't unusual.

A fast growing tree is usually not a long lived one, ya gotta choose one.

The Mexican Elder doesn't bear much fruit here (read "none", I doubt the birds will save you any) and is not native to NM. It's native to the Baja area of Mexico and will need a good microclimate in Socorro. It's also not a tree, just a very large shrub. It is very pithy and in high winds will lose limbs and, if not pruned properly, can split.

Trees that Please are great folks.
I also recommend you visit Plants of the Southwest in Alb. (http://www.plantsofthesouthwest.com/) I live in Las Cruces and drive to Alb. to shop at the their nursery. Very knowledgable.

One last thing: Fall is the best time to plant trees esp. in NM. We've hopefully had some rain and the temps are cooler.

Good luck!


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RE: what trees to plant in Socorro yard

Thanks, NMGirl. Very good advice. I'm starting to lean towards Golden Raintree at this point. I'm also realizing that planting a tree right now would be a death sentence, so waiting until Sept is my new plan. I'm also now worried that my old mulberry tree isn't going to live to much longer, now that I've had an expert take a look at it. What's been your experience in the longevity of mulberry trees here? This one is probably 36" in diameter.


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RE: what trees to plant in Socorro yard

Any idea how long it's been there? Mulberry trees can live a long time with good conditions or care. The #1 problem with them in NM is water stress. The tree gets big and people decide they don't need to take care of it anymore.
If you could post a pic it would help.


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