- Author: Leslie E. Stevens
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Leslie E. Stevens UCCE Master Gardener
What types of trees would be suitable for my small yard? Karen SLO
Choosing the perfect tree can be intimidating even for experienced gardeners. It's a long-term commitment that has a big impact on your home's appearance, as well as your outdoor enjoyment.
Small-lot owners face the added challenge of finding trees that fit limited spaces. The last thing they need is a huge, overgrown tree littering their yard, while its roots invade planting beds, walls and foundations.
Turns out, they're in luck. As smaller lots have become the norm, nurseries now stock a variety of small trees, as well as large shrubs that can be shaped into tree form. Several varieties of semi-dwarf fruit trees also fit nicely into tight spaces, providing the added bonus of tasty, home-grown fruit.
When selecting any plant, first determine your local growing conditions, including climate, soil type, sun and wind exposure, frost or heat extremes and the tree's water requirements. If planting near a patio or paving, be aware if the tree drops messy fruit, leaves or flowers. And lastly, make sure you are willing to take on regular pruning chores if you choose a shrub and plan to train into a tree.
With this information in hand, visit local botanical gardens or nurseries and investigate books and Internet sources for specific trees that match your needs. Following are examples of small-scale landscape trees grown locally.
Deciduous: Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) varieties 5-20 ft. - not for hot or windy spots; Smoke Tree (coggygria) 12-20 ft. - takes poor soil; Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia) 8-ft. shrubs to 25-ft. tall trees - single & multi-trunked; Flowering Cherry (Prunus) numerous deciduous & evergreen varieties 10-40 ft. high.
Evergreen: Strawberry Tree (Arbutus Marina or unedo); Citrus – most varieties cold sensitive and prefer mild winters and warm-to-hot summers; Pineapple Guava (Feijoa) fruiting tree 15-20 ft.; Strawberry Guava (Psidiumcattleyanum) fruiting shrub or small tree to 6 ft.;Australian Tea Tree (Leptospermum) large shrubs/small trees 10-30 ft.; Melaleuca (ericifolia or linearfoilia) 15-20 ft.; Rhaphiolepis Majestic Beauty – larger variety can be trained as single- or multi-trunked tree 20-25 ft.
Cal Poly Select A Tree: http://selectree.calpoly.edu/search-trees-by-characteristics
City of San Luis Obispo, Street Trees: http://www.slocity.org/home/showdocument?id=3606/h3>/h2>