We often receive calls from local citizens, particularly those in Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, who are frustrated with the litter their trees strew across their otherwise immaculate landscapes. But this needn’t be the case – in fact, through careful tree selection, you can usually reduce the amount of leaves, fruit, sticks and seeds that fall upon your lawn.
Six High-Litter Offenders
All trees produce some amount of litter. Male flowers will eventually end up on the ground below, as will uneaten fruit and seeds. Leaves are another source of litter, and even evergreen species eventually drop their leaves to the ground below. But some trees are much bigger offenders than others.
The following six species are noteworthy for producing copious amounts of litter. And although they may be great trees for other locations, they aren’t great choices for homeowners seeking to keep a tidy landscape.
1. Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)
Horse chestnut trees are widely celebrated for their attractive flowers, but they produce large quantities of nuts, which will fall off the tree throughout the summer. These nuts are not only large enough to cause people to trip or stumble, they are very toxic, which represents an additional safety hazard.
2. California Walnut (Juglans californica)
While walnut trees are generally beloved for their stately charm and delicious nuts, these nuts can create quite a litter problem underneath the tree. Making matters worse, the nuts are not only unsightly (and potential trip hazards), they can stain sidewalks and other surfaces.
3. Female Maidenhair Trees (Gingko biloba)
Maidenhair trees are very desirable landscaping species, whose fall foliage is out of this world. However, female maidenhair trees produce copious quantities of foul-smelling and messy fruit. Fortunately, most maidenhairs sold via retail outlets are cloned males, who produce no such fruit, but it is wise to verify the sex of any maidenhair trees you plan on installing.
4. Chilean Acacia Trees (Prosopischilensis)
Chilean acacias are well-suited for homes throughout California, including the Bel Air – Beverly Hills – Santa Monica corridor, as they are very drought-tolerant trees who remain relatively small. However, they produce a ton of dry fruit, which will soon cover every square inch of your property. Some varieties also shed sticks and very sharp thorns, making them a bad choice for homeowners who appreciate neat and tidy lawns.
5. Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
Sweetgums are gorgeous trees for properties with adequate soil moisture, but they are infamous for the hard, spiky “gumballs” they pour all over the ground. Fortunately, there are fruit-less sweetgum varieties available in the marketplace, which solve most of the litter problem (they will still, of course, shed plenty of yellow, red and purple leaves each fall).
6. Mulberries (Morus spp.)
Both red and white mulberry trees produce substantial litter problems. Throughout the late spring and early summer, the trees produce plump, juicy mulberries, which feed several different wildlife species – particularly birds. However, birds aren’t able to eat all of the berries, and many will fall onto hardscapes below, where they’ll cause very dark stains.
If you are experiencing problems with the litter produced by your trees, contact your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants a call. Not only can we help you find some low-litter replacements, we may even be able to help you reduce the amount of litter your existing trees produce, through clever pruning and maintenance practices.