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Dead trees, new trees

Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 7:09 am
by new home owner
Hi I just bought a home in Central California. We have a huge backyard and only one tree, a walnut tree, and based on the other posts on the board, I'm pretty sure its dying. What kind of trees can I plant that will be rugged and grow quickly, and cheap!!! Help, I've lived in apartments my whole life and this fixer-upper is freaking me out!!!

Posted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 10:20 pm
by opabinia51
Given the fact that you currently have a walnut on your property, it is going to be sometime before all of the juglone (a chemical that walnuts secrete to inhibit the growth of other plants) is cleansed from your soil.

I would recommend going into the Wildlife Gardens Forum and looking at my thread on Food Forests. There is a list there of plants that you can plant that are resistant to Juglone.

When planting a tree it is best to dig a hole that is twice as wide as as the root ball and twice as deep. Fill part of the hole with some mulched up leaves and composted manure. Then place your tree in the hole, give it a good watering, fill the rest of the hole with dirt and some manure and leaves. Finally water the tree one more time.

Do not plant trees in the summer. People often do this and the trees then die. The best time to plant a conifer (evergreen) is in the fall. Early spring works for most fruit trees. But, keep them well watered.

Good luck! (I'm sure that some of the other people on the site will have some advice for you as well)

thanks a lot

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 5:44 am
by new home owner
this is a great forum, thanks for your advice opa. I am so overwhelmed with this property.

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:31 am
by opabinia51
Anytime, glad to help you! Be sure to post any questions that you have! Someone will eventually answer them. Most likely you will get tips from everyone.

Also, be sure to check out your local nurseries regarding what trees to plant. Local experts have a wealth of information on what trees grow best in your climate.

Keep us up to date as to how your yard shapes out.

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:52 pm
by Grey
How big/old is the walnut tree?

Opa, if it isn't terribly old, can new_home_owner just dig a BIG hole for each new tree, and fill the hole with compost/organic matter/soil from the garden center? How far down does the walnut tree affect the soil?

Mostly what I know for trees in zone 8 that grow quickly: Maples, like red or sugar, grow pretty quick. You can usually get a free red maple right now from the Arbor Day Foundation just for joining, and then they also send you all kinds of good literature that may help you in your tree dilemmas as well.

Other trees (to name just a few, you are in an excellent zone): American Beech, Kentucky CoffeeTree, Lacebark Elm and if you want something pretty: Japanese Flowering Cherry, under part sun: dogwoods (zone 8 can grow pink and red dogwood as well as the white).

Your local nursery may suggest the Golden Rain Tree. DON'T. They may grow superbly fast, and have a pretty bloom in the Fall, but the rest of the year you will hate that tree! It is also highly invasive- I spent half the year uprooting for hours on end, every few days, young trees that sprout like weeds all the way around it.

Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:18 pm
by The Helpful Gardener
A new bare yard you say? Lots of construction or moving vehicles about?

Driving around trees is VERY damaging; it compacts the soil in the feeding and watering zone. Even repetitive use of a big lawn tractor would be damaging in the4 long term. Trees, even old monsters, only feed in the top foot of soil profile, so if you crush that down you break small feeder roots and compact porosity out of the soil. This affects feeding, watering, and gas exchange. I see this all the timne around new or remodeled homes. That's one guess...

Need more info, like an image, to start making a better diagnosis. AS for other trees I'd normally recommend one of your local oaks for your area, but SOD, or southern oak death is making that an iffy choice. Madrones are beautiful native trees and a bit smaller and more garden worthy. Cercis, or redbud, is another nice garden tree with an early bloom, as is Cornus nuttallii, or Pacific Dogwood. Want an evergreen? Juniperus occidentalis, or Western Juniper, is a great bird shelter and feeder in your area...


Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 10:28 pm
by grandpasrose
Welcome to the forum NewHome Owner! One more note about planting trees. You will be watering them at the time of planting, but an important key to whether a tree takes or not is to continue to water it until it gets itself established. It needs to spread it's roots a little and gather it's own source of moisture before it can stand on it's own!
Best of Luck! :wink:

Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:16 am
by opabinia51
Mmmmm, good point Val. The reason behind digging the big hole is such that it is easier for the tree to spread it's roots out. Also, for this reason; you don't want to overwater your new trees. It will be beneficial for the tree if it can spread its roots far and wide in search of water.
Just keep the soil moist.

The leaves that you will put in the hole, will hold between 300 and 500 times of their own mass in water.

Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:40 am
by grandpasrose
Of course all of that is true Opa, but I have seen, sadly, so many new trees die, because someone planted it, properly of course, and then never gave another drop of water. For some reason some people seem to think "it's a tree - it gets it's own water". Not so when freshly planted! :wink:

Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 7:34 pm
by opabinia51
Oh Val, I wasn't contesting your advice at all. I was just clarifying some of the things that I had previously said and some of the things that you said.

Some people will just go nuts with the hose and overwater their plants. Or they will water the plants so much that the roots only grow to the border of the hole that was dug, because the roots don't need to spread out any farther.

Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 8:37 pm
by grandpasrose
Yep, there is definitely a happy medium! Just like almost everything else!! :D

Posted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 9:46 pm
by The Helpful Gardener
Grey's notes bear looking at carefully. There are a lot of trees touted by the industry, like royal princess tree (Paulownia) that are on invasive lists. I am a fan of native plants, but ESPECIALLY when it comes to trees; wildlife usage can decrease as much as 80-90% in a non-native tree (why I listed all natives for your area...)


Posted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:31 pm
by new home owner
thank you all for your advice. There is a lot more to gardening than I imagined.
Thanks Grey for recommending the Arbor Day Foundation, it looks cool, but unfortunatly they don't ship to California

Based on Opa's advice to plant in the fall, should I wait until next august? I think we are technically in winter, but the weather is still warm here (no jackets yet).

So far the plan is: 1) remove the walnut tree, which is in the middle of the backyard. I think I'll be ok planting around the property line. 2) I was thinking about those tall pine trees with the little round wood balls that grow on them. (my neighbors have a lot of old rusty cars and junk in their yards.) 3) a lemon tree. 4) an olive tree (cause I'm greek!!) and 5) a pepper tree in the front yard for shade. I'm not sure if it is called a pepper tree, no one seems to know what I'm talking about when I call it that. But they grow big and have little balls on them that taste like pepper when you chew them up.

Posted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:34 pm
by The Helpful Gardener
Nobody in Cali knows a pepper tree? I know a restaurant in Berkely with that name because it has a huge one in front. I like your tree ideas (not native but hey... 8) ) and all should work just fine. And plant now; you guys are as close to fall as it gets there, and what passes for winter there wouldn't qualify as fall where Grey lives, let alone where I do! :lol:

If I'm not mistaken, you should start getting some more rain soon and that's the biggest obstacle to establishing trees. Try gator bags or another slow watering device to establish your trees; more expensive but a sure fire, easy way to water and forget...


Posted: Thu Nov 24, 2005 1:35 am
by grandpasrose
I looked it up for you, and yes, it is called "California Pepper Tree", but is also known as "Mastic Tree", and it's latin name, then there will be no confusion at all when buying it is "Schinus Molle".
Have fun with your trees!!
Whenever we have planted a new tree in our yard, we have planted in the name of someone special in our lives, and then that's what the tree gets called after that. So if someone asked me what tree is that?, they might get told, oh, that's Lelia! :lol:

Posted: Mon Nov 28, 2005 1:12 pm
by The Helpful Gardener
And somewhere in Heaven, Carolus Linneaus has just had a bad moment... :P


Posted: Mon Nov 28, 2005 7:44 pm
by opabinia51
Hi New,

Just make sure that the trees that you plant are a good distance from your dying Oak Tree. The Juglone secreted by the oak will have a negative efftect on the growth of trees like Lemon and what not. Might be a good idea to plant some buffer foliage around the oak such that the allelopathic chemicals do not stunt the growth of your new trees.

Posted: Mon Nov 28, 2005 9:09 pm
by grandpasrose
Scott, you're probably right on about old Carolus Linneaus!! :lol: But my trees won't be the first to have given him a fright. Our city has all of it's walkways and parks lined with memorial trees that are named for someone! It's a very interesting bit of history here. :wink:

Posted: Mon Nov 28, 2005 9:24 pm
by The Helpful Gardener
I've planted a few memorial trees myself; just checking to see who's awake... :lol:


Posted: Mon Nov 28, 2005 9:33 pm
by grandpasrose
Actually, it's getting pretty quiet around here - you might get a few snores! :lol: