Leveraging the Sun: Six Great Trees that Require Intense Sunlight

To develop and maintain a luxurious landscape, you have to work with the resources the local environment provides. Sure, you can amend soils or provide supplemental irrigation to help support trees that aren’t well-suited for your location, but that quickly becomes frustrating, laborious and expensive.

Instead, it makes more sense to take a look at what the local environment provides and take advantage of these resources. For those living in Bel Air, Beverly Hills or many other parts of Southern California, this means taking advantage of the copious sunlight bathing the land.

Many of those living along the East Coast or the Pacific Northwest struggle to care for trees that require full sun exposure. The trees and terrain help to reduce the amount of early morning and late afternoon sun, and the frequent rain and cloud cover make things even more difficult.

But we don’t have to deal with those types of problems here in the land of perpetual sunshine. Accordingly, you should take advantage of this fact, and consider the following six species the next time you are thinking about adding some new trees to your property.

1.Bigberry Manzanita (Arctostaphylosglauca)

Bigberry manzanitas are great choices for many southern California properties, and they grow best with plenty of strong sunlight. They are susceptible to sudden oak death, but they are relatively fire resistant and stay small enough to be planted around structures or under utility lines.

2.Gowen Cypress (Hesperocyparisgoveniana)

While it is a rare species that can be hard to track down, the Gowen cypress is another great sun-loving tree to grow in southern California. They have somewhat problematic roots, so you won’t want to plant them near underground utilities or sidewalks, but they are hardy, attractive trees who provide a ton of food for local wildlife. Reaching about 30 to 50 feet in height, they provide great shade, thanks to their dense foliage.

3.Catalina Ironwood (Lyonothamnusfloribundus)

The Catalina ironwood will grow in light shade, but it thrives best when drenched in plenty of photosynthesis-powering sunlight. Both the bark and the foliage of these 30- to 40-foot-tall trees is attractive, and will provide different textures for your property. Birds often feed on the trees’ dry fruit, especially when the species is maintained in clumps, hedges or rows.

4.Blue Palo Verde (Parkinsoniaflorida)

The Blue Palo Verde is a fantastic tree for sunny, well-drained properties. It is valuable to wildlife and quite drought tolerant, although it will shed its leaves in times of significant water stress. Reaching only about 25 feet in height, these blue-leaved trees work well near structures or under utility lines.

5. California Sycamore (Platanusracemosa)

If you are looking for a large, fast-growing tree, and you have the water to spare for its growth, the California sycamore is hard to beat. Although you’ll want to plant these trees in low-lying areas, they love sunlight and will exhibit a very rapid growth rate in good locations.

6. Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)

Coast live oaks are often overlooked as a landscape species, but they are one of the best possible species to select for exposed, sun-drenched habitats. Coast live oaks are well adapted to the climate of southern California, and they tolerate drought quite well. They can grow as either shrubs or small trees, which make them very flexible for use in suburban settings.

If you are interested in installing some sun-loving trees on your Bel Air property, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We can help guide you through the process and ensure you pick trees well-suited for the local climate and conditions.

Caring for Trees and Palms: Four Key Differences

Palm trees are a common site in Bel Air; like many other parts of southern California, they are an indelible part of the scenery and skyline. But while palms are well-suited for our region and make great additions to most Southern California properties, they are very different from most other trees.

In fact, palms aren’t true trees at all. They don’t possess a lateral growth zone (called the cambium) which is responsible for the outward growth of tree branches and trunks; instead the tissue in their stems simply expands as the tree grows. In fact, palm trees do not produce growth rings like true trees do.

There are myriad other differences between palms and true trees, and many affect the ways in which you must care for them. Four of the most important differences include the following:

1. To Fertilize or Not to Fertilize: That Is the Question

While most newly planted hardwoods and conifers will thrive without the need for fertilizer, there are occasionally circumstances in which fertilizer can be helpful. However, this is almost never a good idea for palm trees, and it can seriously damage the palm’s delicate roots. In most cases, it is best to allow palms to establish themselves over the course of 3 to 5 months before adding any fertilizer (and then, only if soil tests determine that it is wise to do so).

2. Changing Needs for Sunlight

Just like many true trees – especially pioneer species, such as aspens and pines — many palms love full sun exposure and grow best when provided with plenty of it. However, young palms are much more sensitive to sunlight than most sun-loving hardwoods and conifers of a similar age. If placed in a location that has too much sunlight, young palms often become scorched in the strong light. Accordingly, it is often wise to plant new palms in areas that receive some shade throughout the day, during their delicate early years.

3. Pruning Dead Weight

In most cases, it is not only acceptable to remove dead limbs and foliage from typical trees, it is actually advisable. Removing dead limbs – a process called crown cleaning – rarely harms oaks, sycamores or dogwoods, as long as the cuts are made in the correct locations and with the proper technique. However, prematurely removing dying fronds from a palm can lead to considerable stress. Palms slowly pull out the nutrients locked in these fronds, and by removing them too early, you deprive the tree of much-needed resources. Additionally, you can expose the developing fronds to too much sunlight and wind, which can lead to further problems.

4. True Trees Are Better Equipped to Seal Up Wounds

True trees have evolved a very effective way to seal up wounds and prevent the spread of fungi, bacteria and other pathogens. Called compartmentalization, the process involves the tree encapsulating the damaged area with sap and protective chemicals. However, palms are unable to compartmentalize wounds. This often means that even a relatively minor bit of damage can lead to the eventual death of a fully grown palm. Given this, it is important to install palms in relatively out-of-the-way locations, that are not subject to much foot traffic.

If you have questions about the best ways to care for your palms, or you’d just prefer to outsource the task to the professionals, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call.

Santa Monica’s Trees May Need More Than Extra Water

Because Santa Monica trees are often deprived of life-sustaining rainfall, many show signs and symptoms of water stress. For those that are simultaneously battling other stressors, such as pests, disease or pollution, life can rest on a knife’s edge.

Of course, providing additional water to these trees is generally the most important step to preventing them from entering a death spiral. However, you’ll want to do more than just provide more water to have the best chance at success. You’ll want to make sure you avoid wasting water as much as is possible and you want to make sure that the soil around the tree is in good shape.

After satisfying the applicable steps below, ask your favorite neighborhood arborists, if there are any other things you should be doing to help protect your trees.

Mulch

If providing additional water to a struggling tree is step one in water-stress-crisis management, mulching is clearly step two. A 2- to 4-inch-thick layer of rich, organic mulch will provide myriad benefits for your tree, including many that will help to counter the effects of droughts.

For example, mulch helps serve as a thermal insulator and a barrier to evaporation, which means that your trees will be able to absorb what little water reaches them. Additionally, mulch helps to improve general root health, which will make them more efficient at absorbing water from the ground.

Remove Impervious Surfaces

Sidewalks, driveways and similar surfaces prevent rainwater from reaching the soil, so they should be removed from within the dripline of trees whenever practical. If need be, you can replace poured cement with a variety of pervious materials.

It’s also important to remember that tree roots often cause cement slabs to shift or break, as the roots grow into the soil. Generally speaking, you want to plant trees away from cement structures to both give the tree the best chance at a long, healthy life and to avoid ruining your cement structures.

Don’t Make Them Compete

Although it is possible to support a healthy carpet of lush grass and a thirsty tree in the same place, it is not easy to do so without dedicating a lot of supplemental water and effort to do so. In fact, because grass roots are very shallow, they can effectively live a life of plenty, while starving the tree roots below of life-sustaining water.

Accordingly, it is usually wise to remove any lawn or plants growing under water-deprived trees – at least as far as the dripline. It is also important to plan accordingly, when you are installing new trees. Besides, you’ll want to have mulched this entire area anyway, so you won’t have room for grass or plants.

Address Compacted Soil

If the soil under your tree’s dripline has become compacted, water will tend to flow across it, rather than seeping into the soil. Additionally, compacted soils impair the tree’s roots ability to obtain oxygen. There are a variety of ways to fluff out the soil, but many of them require the assistance of a certified arborist or landscape professional.

However, you can reduce soil compaction slightly by using a small pitchfork, but you’ll need to be sure that you don’t damage any of the tree’s fine absorbing roots in the process.

In the Future, Avoid Planting in Poor Places

You can’t do much about a tree’s location once it is established, but it is wise to carefully consider this, should replacement be necessary. If water stress was the primary reason your trees are suffering, you’ll want to consider local environmental factors that may be at play.

For example, soils in exposed, sunny locations dry out more than soils in shaded areas do. Additionally, windswept areas also accelerate the evaporation rate, which can further dry out the place.

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If your trees are suffering from water stress, and you’d like to enlist professional help give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’ll gladly assess your trees and provide you with actionable steps for keeping them healthy and happy for years to come.

Supplemental Water During the Long, Dry Summer

Periodic drought is a way of life for those living in southern California – this means not only the people, but the plants and animals as well. Fortunately, most trees – even those hailing from faraway lands – can survive the long, dry summer with a little extra water.

Home Sweet Home

Most of the plants and trees native to Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and the rest of the region have developed physiological mechanisms or physical characteristics that enable them to cope with these regular dry spells. Even those that tend to grow in riparian areas or in low-lying grounds must develop some ways of surviving waterless periods, as particularly dry periods may turn creek beds into little more than sunbaked mud.

But these adaptations are hardly infallible. While the healthiest individuals often survive extended droughts, many trees battling pests or growing in sub-standard locations struggle to survive prolonged dry spells. Fortunately, many of these trees can be saved with a little supplemental irrigation.

Exotic Introductions

In stark contrast to native plants and trees, which have adapted to the region’s Mediterranean climate, many ornamentals and trees that homeowners install hail from regions with more rain. For these plants and trees, supplemental watering is often necessary for any reasonable chance of emerging from the drought unscathed.

Recognizing the Signs of Water Stress

Whether your trees are native to southern California, or they are native to some lush rainforest, you’ll need to keep an eye out for the signs of water stress. Some of the most common and important signs include:

  • Leaf Lightening
  • Crown Dieback
  • Premature Leaf Drop
  • Browning Leaf Edges
  • Wilting

For further reading on the subject, check out this great PDF from the City of Santa Monica Urban Forest Division.

Providing Water Appropriately

Having decided that your trees are in need of some extra water, it is important to provide it to them in the most efficient manner possible. This not only ensures your trees will derive the maximum benefit from the water, but it will also help you avoid wasting any water in the process.

It is important to water trees in a much different manner than you would water grass and other shallow-rooted plants. You want to saturate the upper 16 to 24 inches of the soil, which means that you’ll need to apply water very slowly and over a long period of time (hours). This will encourage the tree roots to penetrate more deeply into the soil, while frequent, light water applications will encourage the proliferation of shallow roots. By encouraging the development of deep roots, your trees will be better able to access moisture from deep in the soil, thereby giving them an even better chance of emerging from a rainless summer unscathed.

A basic guideline for watering calls for 10 gallons of water for every inch of the trunk diameter at breast height (about 4.5 feet above ground), up to a maximum of 160 gallons. You can do this with a hose, but it is perhaps easier and more efficient to provide water via a water bag or drip-irrigation system. Most drought-resistant species can survive the summer with only two water applications per month, although species with more moderate water needs may require 3 or 4 applications per month.

Note that these guidelines are for established trees. Newly installed trees require more supplemental water than those who’ve already established deep and robust root systems. New trees typically require about 10 to 20 gallons of water, administered on a weekly basis.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

With a little research and hard work, many homeowners will be able to support their trees through the summer. However, it is often advisable for homeowners to solicit professional assistance – particularly if your trees are battling disease, pests or other stressors.

If your trees are struggling with the lack of rain, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’d be delighted to help you care for your trees and give them the best chance for a long life.

Do Your Part to Diversify Santa Monica’s Tree Canopy

Santa Monica is home to an impressive urban forest, for which both residents and city employees should be proud. However, many of these trees are nearing the end of their useful lifespan and will need to be replaced in the next few years.

Many of these trees are on city property, so they’ll be replaced by local governmental agencies, but many others are on private property. In such cases, homeowners will soon be faced with deciding what new species to install. A couple of dozen different species are well-suited for Santa Monica and the rest of Southern California, but that doesn’t mean they’re all equally appropriate – there are a number of considerations that determine a tree’s applicability for a location.

The Problem with Low Diversity

Things like size, preferred sun exposure and growth rate are all obvious considerations for urban trees, but an important, and often overlooked criteria is the popularity of the species. Cities with relatively homogeneous tree canopies (those comprised primarily of only a few species) are at high risk to disease, drought, pests and other potential threats. Conversely, cities that have extraordinarily diverse canopies rarely suffer as much during difficult times.

For example, many eastern cities began planting American elms in the latter part of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century. Beloved for their graceful, vase-like growth habit, they were often planted along both sides of city streets to form a sort of canopy over the roads. In several cities, American elms formed the bulk of the tree canopy.

Unfortunately, Dutch elm disease – a fungal disease spread by bark beetles – arrived in North America around 1928. Once established, the disease made quick work of many mature elms, and because many of these cities were disproportionately populated by a single species, devastation quickly ensued. Within a few years, crews were busy removing one dying and dangerous tree after another. If these cities had simply had more diversity, their losses would have been mitigated.

Accordingly, it is wise for Santa Monica homeowners to familiarize themselves with the most common trees and avoid them in favor of drought-resistant trees that are not as common.

The Five Most Common Street Trees in the City

The following five species are the most common within Santa Monica, according to the city’s tree inventory. Insofar as it is practical to do so, try to avoid planting these species in favor of less common species. Note that there is nothing wrong with any of these species; they are simply so common that they contribute to a reduction in canopy diversity.

  1. Mexican fan palm (Washingtonia robusta)
  2. Indian laurel (Ficus microcarpa)
  3. Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
  4. Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis)
  5. Fern pine (Podocarpus macrophyllus)

Five Better Options

Consider installing some of the following species if you are looking to add a new tree to your property, or if it becomes necessary to replace trees already growing. All of these are well-suited trees for Santa Monica, and they’ll contribute to more diversity in the city.

  1. Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis) – The Chinese pistache is a medium-sized, drought-resistant tree that grows well in poor soils and provides glorious fall color.
  2. Maidenhair tree (Gingko biloba) — Also known as gingko trees, maidenhairs are great choices for city lots large enough to accommodate them, as they tolerate restricted soil spaces, pollution and periodic drought. Just be sure you acquire only female trees, as the males produce copious quantities of allergenic pollen.
  3. Giant Yucca (Yucca gigantea) – While not a true tree, the giant yucca is a great, drought-resistant plant for Santa Monica properties that exhibits a tree-like growth habit and reaches 20 to 30 feet in height.
  4. Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) – Monterey pines are drought-resistant, evergreen trees that are native to the state of California. Monterey pines occasionally reach 100 feet in height and they exhibit a relatively rapid growth rate, making them a good choice for those in need of quick shade.
  5. Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo) — If you’re looking for a fruit-bearing tree that will survive in Santa Monica’s Mediterranean climate, it is hard to beat the 30-foot-tall strawberry tree.

Deciding the best trees for your property can be a challenging endeavor, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If you are considering adding some new trees to your Santa Monica property, contact your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants, and let us help guide you through the decision-making process.

Six Great Drought-Resistant Trees for Santa Monica Properties

Like most cities in Southern California, Santa Monica experiences a Mediterranean climate, characterized by wet, mild winters and hot, dry drought-like summers – even in good years. These dry summers can make life difficult for many of the trees growing on properties all over the city, and many die each year while trying to cope with these conditions.

One of the most effective ways of dealing with our region’s periodic droughts is through proper tree selection. Some species simply require less water – and are therefore better able to survive droughts – than others are. So, the next time you are considering installing new trees on your property, or replacing ones that are already there, consider the following six species.

Like most other species, these trees will all require supplemental watering for the first few years of their lives, but once mature, they rarely require supplemental watering – even during the long summer.

1. Black Acacia

Black acacias (Acacia melanoxylon) are medium-sized, evergreen trees that reach about 40 feet in height or so. They typically exhibit a rounded canopy and relatively dense foliage that provides pretty deep shade underneath. A hardy species, black acacias are able to cope with many of the indignities of urban life. For example, they usually tolerate confined growing spaces and polluted air.

2. California Black Walnut

The California black walnut (Juglans californica) is a native species that is both resistant to drought (once established) and very beneficial for our local wildlife. However, you’ll want to give California black walnuts plenty of space, as they release toxins into the soil that suppress the growth of other plants. It can be difficult to find this species commercially, but it is not impossible to do so – be sure to keep an eye out for rare-plant sales.

3. Chinese Pistache

Perhaps best known for its attractive growth habit (once mature) and incredible fall color, the Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis) is a medium-sized tree that reaches about 30 feet in height. The Chinese pistache is well-suited for Santa Monica’s Mediterranean climate, as it tolerates drought and intense heat quite well.

4. Deodar Cedar

Attractive, fast-growing evergreens, deodar cedars (Cedar deodara) are hardy enough for urban lots and they’ll even tolerate a fair bit of salt spray, if you live along the beach. Although these trees occasionally approach 100 feet in height, most remain in the 40- to 60-foot range. One important drawback to deodar cedars that bears consideration is the copious amounts of allergenic pollen they produce, so be sure to avoid them if you are allergic to cedar pollen.

5. Western Redbud

If you are looking for a small tree with glorious spring color, attractive foliage throughout the summer and winter interest provided in the form of hanging seed pods, it is hard to go wrong with a western redbud (Cercis occidentalis). Drought-tolerant and delightful, western redbuds adapt well to city lots and also provide plenty of value to the local wildlife.

6. Coast Live Oak

Native trees are almost always preferable to exotic specimens, and coast live oaks (Quercus agrifolia) are a great choice for Santa Monica residents. Not only are coast live oaks well adapted to our region’s climate, they provide an abundance of food for our local squirrels, jays and other critters.

If you think your current trees are suffering from drought stress, or you’d just like to add a few new trees to your commercial or residential property, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’d be happy to assess your trees or provide recommendations about the best trees for your lot.

The Soil Compaction Problem

A variety of soil characteristics influence the health and vigor of trees. Soils that lack sufficient moisture are obviously problematic, as are those without enough nitrogen. Improper pH can also be troubling for trees, and reduce the rate at which they can absorb vital nutrients.

But one underappreciated soil characteristic that can influence the health of trees is the degree to which the soil is compacted. Trees obviously won’t remain stable in a pile of loose dirt, but they can struggle in soils that are packed too hard as well. Loose soil is rarely a problem, but soils in urban and suburban areas are often too compacted to allow trees to thrive.

Why Is Compacted Soil Problematic?

Normally, soil is made up of small mineral grains that are surrounded by tiny spaces (called pores) that hold water and air. This arrangement provides enough “give” for tree roots to wiggle through the grains as they grow. Additionally, the water and oxygen the roots need is easily accessed, so the tree is able to live as it should.

However, if you compress a sample of soil, you end up pressing the mineral grains together, which reduces the size of the pores around them. This means that the roots are unable to penetrate the soil, and the amount of air and water in the soil pores is sharply reduced. Trees living in these compacted soils often struggle to thrive, and they can even die because of it.

How Do Soils Become Compacted?

A variety of things can cause soil compaction, but two of the most common causes include construction activities and pedestrian traffic. The heavy vehicles involved in many construction projects often cause rapid compaction, and many soils are purposefully compacted to provide a stable base that can support the new building or home addition. But this often leads to the decline or death of any trees in the vicinity, whose roots penetrate into the compacted zone.

Pedestrian traffic is a longer-term problem, which often occurs at parks or near walkways and other places where people and pets frequently travel.

What Can Be Done to Address Compacted Soils?

If you are installing trees in a place with compacted soil, the best course of action is to break up the soil before installing the new tree. This can be done in a number of ways, and is not terribly difficult or expensive to do. On the other hand, reducing soil compaction around existing trees is trickier. One method arborists use to do so is called radial trenching, which involves the use of hand tools or high-pressured air to remove the soil around the roots, before replacing it with non-compacted soil.

Another technique that may alleviate soil compaction problems is called vertical mulching. This involves the drilling of dozens of deep, narrow holes throughout the critical roots zone, and then filling the holes back in with a mixture of soil and organic material.

Given the difficulties involved in treating compacted soil around trees, it is wise to prevent the problem entirely. One way to do so is by having an arborist establish tree protection zones before any construction takes place. This will prevent heavy equipment from compacting the soil over a tree’s roots, allowing you to avoid the problem entirely.

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If you believe that your trees are suffering due to compacted soil, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. Our experienced arborists can inspect your trees, diagnose the problem and recommend the best path forward. Remember, it is much easier to correct problems if you catch them early, so don’t procrastinate – get the professional assistance you need to keep your trees looking their best.

Six Troubling Myths About Trees and Their Care

Myths arise in almost every subject area, and trees are no different. Unfortunately, belief in these myths can lead homeowners (and unqualified tree workers) to make mistakes in the process of caring for trees. To help ensure you don’t fall victim to some of these myths, we’ve outlined six of the most common below.

  1. A Tree’s Roots Mirror the Canopy

Many people envision a tree’s roots penetrating the soil in a manner similar to the tree’s canopy, but this is not correct. Aside from a central taproot and a relatively small number of roots directly under the tree, the vast majority of a tree’s roots extend laterally. Many extend beyond the canopy’s drip line, and most are located in the upper 24 inches of soil.

 

  1. Branch Stubs Must Be Painted

Historically, tree-care professionals would apply a specially formulated paint on the freshly cut surface exposed during pruning activities. The idea behind the practice was that the paint would protect the exposed wood from fungi and pathogens. However, research has shown that this is not only unnecessary, it reduces the rate at which the tree can compartmentalize the wound, and it can trap fungal spores underneath the paint.

 

  1. Tree Wounds Heal Over Time

When an animal suffers a wound, its body replaces the cells near the wound as well as any that were lost in the accident. However, trees do not heal in this fashion; in fact, trees do not heal at all. Instead, trees essentially encapsulate wounds with new tissue and go right on with their lives.

 

  1. Topping Is a Good Way to Reduce a Tree’s Height

There aren’t many good ways to reduce a tree’s height, and topping (the practice of cutting a tree’s central leader at an arbitrary point) is one of the worst. The best option is a technique called crown reduction, which seeks to make proper pruning cuts at strategic places in the canopy, to reduce its size. Crown reductions are difficult to carry out and require the experienced eye of a skilled arborist.

 

  1. Trees Should Be Pruned Immediately Following Planting

The rationale behind pruning a tree at the time of planting is that by reducing the number of leaves present, you can decrease the water requirements of the tree during the initial installation period. However, trees establish themselves most quickly by producing new root growth. To accomplish this, the tree needs to produce plenty of food, which can then be converted into new root tissue. And to produce food, a tree needs its leaves. While structural pruning should be carried out around the time of installation, this typically removes a relatively small number of leaves.

 

  1. Mulch Should Be Placed Around a Tree’s Trunk

Properly applied, a thick layer of mulch can protect and help nourish a tree’s roots. However, if mulch is allowed to pile up around the base of a tree’s trunk, it can trap moisture, fungi and insects, which can lead to serious problems and eventual failure. Instead, place mulch over the root system, but scrape all mulch away from the base of the tree to create a small “donut hole” around the trunk.

It can be easy to mistake myths for facts, particularly when you’ve got so many other things in life that require your attention. You probably don’t have the time to research and verify everything you hear about trees. But that’s where we come in: Our experienced arborists have the skills, training and education to understand the truth about trees and the best way to care for them.

If you have a question or conundrum about your trees, give your favorite arborists a call. We’re happy to help.

Good Alternatives to Palms in Beverly Hills

Palm trees are iconic residents of Beverly Hills, but many of the region’s trees are dying. Some of the die off is due to fungi and insect pests, but many of the mature palms are simply approaching the end of their natural lifespan, as they were planted in the 1930s.

Moving forward, most of these dying palm trees will be replaced by native oaks and other species, which require less water, provide more resources and are more likely to thrive. While you can certainly continue to install palms in Beverly Hills, there are a number of other options, that deserve consideration before you make your decision.

Some of the best trees for Beverly Hills properties include:

Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia)

Coast live oaks are native trees that play important roles in local ecosystems. They are quite drought resistant and well-suited for southern California’s Mediterranean climate. Accordingly, they are among the most environmentally friendly and low-maintenance trees you could select for your Beverly Hills home. Coast live oaks can grow as large shrubs or proper trees, and they occasionally reach 75 feet in height, although most are much smaller.

Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis)

The western redbud is a great choice for small areas and most thrive in suburban locations. Rarely exceeding 25 feet in height, these native trees will grace your yard with pink to purple flowers in the spring, beautiful rounded leaves in the summer, and pendulous seedpods that often persist into the fall and winter.

Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia spp.)

Crape myrtles(sometimes spelled crepe myrtles) are very popular trees for urban and suburban areas, and the tolerate most of the indignities associated with life in these areas. Crepe myrtles have very attractive, smooth bark, and gorgeous flowers (ranging from white to pink) in the summer. While they may exceed 30 feet in height, most are pruned regularly to keep them much smaller.

Maidenhair Tree (Gingko biloba)

The maidenhair of gingko tree is a medium- to large-sized tree that is the sole remaining member of an ancient lineage. Though maidenhair trees are beautiful throughout the year, they are perhaps most stunning in the fall, when their golden leaves become the focal point of any landscape. Be sure to select male, rather than female maidenhairs, as the females have notoriously foul-smelling fruit.

Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia)

Native to South America, jacaranda trees are commonly planted throughout southern California. Upon seeing one in full bloom, it is easy to understand why they are so popular: They produce huge numbers of blue to purple flowers, which last for two months or longer. Jacarandas often thrive in the Beverly Hills area, but they require a spacious growing area, as they can grow up to 60 feet in height.

California Sycamore (Platanusracemosa)

If you are after fast growth and large mature size, it’s hard to go wrong with the California sycamore. Native to much of the Californian coast, sycamores are most comfortable in riparian areas, but they can thrive in other areas as long as they are provided with supplemental irrigation. Sycamore bark is truly eye-catching, and provides visual interest even during the winter.

 

If you’re considering adding new trees to your property, or removing and replacing some of the ones already there, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. One of our experienced arborists can analyze your property and suggest the species that are most likely to thrive and meet any needs you may have.

The Surprising Simplicity of Soil Texture

Soil is often a confusing subject for laypersons and property owners, which is unfortunate, as the soil surrounding your trees is one of the most important factors influencing their health, vigor and ultimate fate. To be fair, soil science is a complicated subject, with tendrils reaching into a variety of related subjects, including chemistry, microbiology and ecology.

But with only a modest amount of effort, you can learn about the characteristics of soil and understand those factors that will influence the health of your trees. To begin, it is important to understand one of the most fundamental properties of various soils – their textures.

Particle Size

Soil texture is determined by one exceedingly simple criteria: The size of the grains. There are three primary size classes of soil particles, known as clay, silt and sand.

  • Soils comprised of the smallest particles include clays. Clay soil particles are less than 0.002 millimeters in diameter.
  • Silt particles are slightly larger than clay particles, and measure between 0.002 and 0.05 millimeters in diameter.
  • Sand particles are the largest of the three, measuring between 0.05 and 2.0 millimeters in diameter.
  • Particles larger than 2.0 millimeters are typically considered gravel.

These differences in size cause differences in the characteristics associated with various soils. For example, sand allows water to drain quickly, while silt and clay particles hold water for longer. On the flip side, sandy soils harbor more life-giving oxygen that clay soils, which are often more highly compressed, thanks to their small particle size.

A Mixture of Sizes

While soils are classified according to the size of their constituent particles, it is important to understand that “pure” samples are rare in nature. You don’t often find areas of pure silt, for example – most soils contain particles of several different sizes.

Accordingly, soils are classified by the relative proportions (by weight) of the various particles included in the entire sample. For example, a soil containing 50% clay and 50% silt is referred to as silty clay. A sample containing 40% clay and 60% sand is called sandy clay. A soil texture triangle can help you understand these ratios better.

The Ideal Recipe

While most trees have some degree of flexibility and can adapt to a variety of different soils, different species have evolved to live in different types of soils. Many cottonwoods (Populus spp.), for example, are capable of thriving in dry, sandy soils, while red maples (Acer rubrum) are able to tolerate denser clay soils.

However, most trees thrive in soil comprised of an optimal ratio of sand, silt and clay. This type of nutritious, rich soil is called loam. Loams are comprised of varying amounts of the three components, but the ideal ratio of the three is 40% sand, 40% silt and 20% clay. If you were to remove some of the sand and replace it with clay, you end up with clay loam; remove some of the clay and replace it with silt and you get sandy loam.

Use This Information to Your Advantage

The soil texture of your area will partially determine the best trees and plants for your property. While you can’t easily alter the soil texture of a large area, you can select the best species for the texture available.

If you are having trouble getting your trees to thrive, and you suspect that soil texture is to blame, give your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. We’ll help determine the texture of your soil and suggest the best species most likely to thrive on your property.