13 Trees You Should Never Plant In Your Yard
For most people, the end of summer and approach of autumn means cooler temperatures, harvest time for crops, and of course, the vibrant colors of changing leaves. For those looking to grow trees or shrubs, however, the approaching fall means it is almost the perfect time to plant for next season. Cooler air with warm earth gives trees and shrubs a chance to establish good root growth before having to face the heat of another summer.
As you prepare to plant, be mindful that while some tree varieties grow quickly or provide a lot of shade, they can come with some less-than-desirable and unexpected consequences. Following is a list of trees you should avoid incorporating into your landscape this fall:
Ash trees are very prevalent around major metropolitan areas. Commonly used to beautify sidewalks and park settings, these beautiful and strong trees are also the source of professional baseball bats. As rock-hard as ash wood can be, however, this tree is widely being wiped out by a tiny beetle called the emerald ash borer. If you want a tree that will be a long-term resident of your landscape, your money would be better spent on another variety!
One of America’s most valuable and beautiful native trees, black walnuts are so sought after for their use in furniture and cabinet making that they actually inspire theft in some areas! For home planting, however, black walnut trees produce a lot of pollen and hard flesh-covered seeds that may just drive you nuts when they litter your yard in the fall. Worse yet, however, are the toxins secreted by this tree that can pretty much wipe out nearby flower beds and vegetable gardens.
The Bradford pear tree became a favorite of developers due to its ability to create instant shade and grow quickly. The tree produces beautiful white flowers in the spring, but has more than its share of issues. Among them, the fact that the fast growth of the tree leads to weak wood that can be a hazard during storms or windy conditions. Furthermore, the beautiful blossoms are actually quite high on the stench scale. In many areas the Bradford pear is also earning a reputation as an invasive weed.
Native to Australia, eucalyptus trees were imported and favored in America for their rapid rate of growth. In fact some varieties can grow up to ten feet in a single year. Unfortunately, eucalyptus can be a bit of a maintenance nightmare due to its seasonal shedding of its bark. Large sticky branches are also known to suddenly drop off and come crashing to the ground (or whatever else happens to be below them).
Ancient and beautiful, gingko trees are hardy in various climates and radiate beautiful yellow colors from their fan-like leaves in the fall. Unfortunately, the female variety of a gingko biloba produces some of the messiest and smelliest fruits of any tree. Often referred to as a “trash tree”, the smell of the distinctive fruits dumped by a female gingko is often compared to that of vomit.
Touted as “America’s most-planted privacy tree”, Leyland cypress trees grow very quickly, up to 5 feet vertically per year. They also thicken well to essentially create a living privacy fence. Unfortunately, they require a great deal of trimming and maintenance to keep them healthy. As they get taller, they become increasingly likely to uproot during storms or windy conditions, but that is not the worst of their characteristics… The center of the tree can become a dry, twiggy fire hazard, so much so that they are now advised against in many areas.
Linden, a.k.a. Basswood
Lindens are slow-growing and grand deciduous trees that can reach up to 130 feet in height. Linden trees grow beautiful and pleasantly fragrant flowers in the summer, which unfortunately are like a magnet for bees. Many people who live around lindens also take exception to the fact that for about a month, these flowers drip a sweet sap which doesn’t discriminate about where it falls, be it on cars, driveways, etc.
Another fast-growing privacy tree, Lombardy poplars grow up to 6 feet per year and can make excellent windbreaks. Well, at least for a short time… these trees are susceptible to a number of pests and diseases that can turn them from a beautiful border to an eyesore in short order. The running roots of these trees are also very invasive to surrounding plants and difficult to get rid of.
Also known as a silk tree, mimosas are known for their beauty, with frilly leaves and puffy pink flowers. Despite their beauty, however, mimosas are weak-wooded and produce high numbers of extremely invasive seedlings. Mimosas also dump their pretty flowers and leaves as far as they can, making them less than popular among nearby neighbors.
Mulberry trees are amazing shade trees. In fact, they can shade areas so efficiently that grass and other plants underneath them have about no chance of survival! Furthermore, the fruits of a mulberry tree can get quite messy and lead to highly invasive seeding. Mulberry trees also tend to develop a lot of large and extremely shallow roots.
If you were to ask a horticulturist whether you should plant a quaking aspen in your landscape, you’d likely get a response of “Well, you could… but…” These trees are beautiful, grow quickly, and have gently vibrating leaves which turn a beautiful bright yellow in the fall. The downsides of these trees is that they tend to have shallow roots that shoot up obnoxious sprouts. While the root system of quaking aspens can be invasive and near impossible to keep underground or eradicate once established, the trees themselves are not likely to last terribly long. Quaking aspens are prone to disease and can be rather short-lived compared to other hardwoods.
Another variety of hardwoods that can be problematic is the silver maple. While large, fast-growing, and a great shade producer, silver maples can have weak wood that can create issues during storms and wind. The shallow root system of silver maples and their tendency to seek out moist environments also makes them a nightmare for sewage systems and drainage pipes. The roots are also notorious for cracking up nearby driveways and sidewalks.
While beautiful on the outside, willow trees are also extremely water-hungry and can absolutely destroy drain fields, sewer lines, and irrigation systems in a home landscape. The lifespan of a weeping willow is also rather short, only lasting about 30 years. Further, the wood can be weak and very prone to cracking upon maturation. While not a particularly valuable landscape addition, certain varieties of willows are essential for the natural preservation and restoration of stream and river banks.