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The Best and Worst Trees to Plant Around Your Home

By: Gina Thompson

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Do you want to increase your property value and add some shade to your outside area? Or maybe you're asking yourself “why are my trees dying?” Either way, it’s time to get to know your trees. From the tropical aesthetic of the palm to the woodsy pine, every tree has unique features but not all trees are suited to your lawn.


When you research and choose the right tree, you can avoid tons of future issues. For example, when you know where to plant the tree you can prevent roots from destroying the foundation of your house or leaves from blowing into your front door.


Southern California Climate


It all comes down to where you live.

The climate in Southern California can vary between dry, desert regions to subtropical areas. This is known as the Mediterranean climate. Trees naturally found in this area don’t need a lot of additional watering and are used to the hot summers. This is why native trees should be your top consideration.


Best Trees

1. Coast Live Oak

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The easiest and most popular tree to plant is the coast live oak. This evergreen is found throughout California and can live up to 250 years!


If you start with a small coast live oak, you’ll need to water it about once a week for a year after you plant it. You can reduce the number of times you water it as it gets older, and eventually, you won’t need to water it at all, but you will want to stay on top of trimming its branches to prevent accidents.


2. Southern California Black Walnut

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Consider the Southern California black walnut if you are looking for something different and want to help the local ecosystem. This tree is endangered in Southern California but you can help the tree rebound by planting more.


The Southern California black walnut doesn’t get very tall. It stays in the small tree category because it only reaches 30 feet in height, so it’s perfect if you’re looking to plant multiple trees on your property.


3. Blue Elderberry

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The blue elderberry goes beyond typical green leaves with flowers in the spring and berries in the fall. Bring nature back to your home with this tree as birds and insects feast on its blooms.


The California Native Plant Society says while the blue elderberry thrives in irrigated areas, the ones that don’t get a lot of attention end up looking more interesting than properly maintained trees.


One note about the blue elderberry: put it in a spot where it can get plenty of sunlight.


Worst Trees


1. Palm Tree

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You’re not going to want to hear this, but palm trees are a no-go when it comes to planting around your home. They offer little shading and require a lot of water.


While a good plant owner can maintain a palm tree by taking good care of it, most palms are not native to Southern California.


Fun Fact: The fan palm is the only palm naturally found in the desert region of California.


2. Bradford Pear Tree

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Don’t let the beautiful white flowers of the Bradford pear tree fool you. The blooms smell awful.


And, not only are branches known to split, but their trunks are weak and can easily be knocked over by high winds putting your family and property at risk of damage.


This tree is also invasive to Southern California –– native only to Korea and China.


3. Tree-of-Heaven

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Another tree endemic to China but becoming a nuisance in Southern California is the Tree-of-Heaven. The Nature Conservancy says the Tree-of-Heaven is a problem because it reproduces quickly and pushes out native plants.


This tree is anything but ‘Heaven.’ It secretes a chemical that kills surrounding plants and can even make the soil toxic, preventing anything else from ever growing in that area.


Call the Experts


When it comes to planting trees around your home, you need to be extremely careful. One root system gone wrong and you’ll have a cracked foundation or even worse, broken pipes. If you’re unsure about where to start or need help, don’t be afraid to call the experts. Adams Landscaping has you covered when it comes to tree installation, removal, pruning, and everything in between.




Gina Thompson is an experienced multimedia journalist, producer, and content writer. In her spare time, she loves catching a live band, dancing, and finding the next big taco spot. As a writer, she is passionate about making a positive impact on her community by elevating the voices and stories that need to be heard.

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