Funny thing, I just Googled “The top ten trees you should never plant in your yard.” While I have to admit there being some validity to the hit list, I considered have I ever seen a beautiful one of those?
Looking back over the years, I had to confess that I had indeed seen at least a few SPECTACULAR specimens of each tree on that list. It really has to do with the “where” more than the how. Simply put, the native landscape here on the valley floor and foothills, our landscape is, well, rather simple. This is a product or rather a byproduct, of our W.E.T.S. (water, elements, temperature, and space) than the genetics of a given plant. If you see a native Oregon white oak that you can’t get your arms around, it probably passed the century mark a long time ago!
Smokin’ hot summers, long winters, clay soil, not very much rainfall. It just is hard on something that is very slow to grow in the first place. Now stuff a tree in that spot, that while faster out of the gate than our native white oaks and that is when problems will rear their ugly head.
There are very few native trees in most landscapes I see around the valley, And in an artificial environment, and with some work, you really can get away with a lot. Then again, you could probably have a pet polar bear in your backyard if you could make it comfortable, so there’s that.
Most of the exceptions-to-the-rule trees I can remember, had two things in common.
No. 1. They were just good specimens to start with, i.e. form, structure, complete root systems, good graft acceptance, and so on.
No. 2. They were planted correctly, with care, forethought and a commitment to the cultural conditions (W.E.T.S.) that provided optimum environmental conditions to the plant throughout its life.
All too often, I am asked what the best thing to do about a crappy tree in a crappy spot. A chipper comes to mind…
There is no such tree I would generalize as a “junk” tree or a “trash” tree, but I can show you thousands of crappy trees…You could probably plant any one of the trees on the hit list and have a great tree in the end, it just takes a special approach, and a commitment to keep that tree as happy as possible.
You will probably not get the mileage out of a non native, but that keeps tree guys and gals in beans so to say.
Site preparation is paramount, picking a good one out of the litter would be second and envisioning the new tree as spectacular down the road should lead to success.
As always, plant high and often…