Most trees do well in irrigated landscapes when they are young, only to struggle later due to overwatering, use of a weed-and-feed product within the root zone, poor placement, overzealous pruning, or a combination of problems.
Fortunately, the Arboretum at UC Davis has compiled a list of trees that not only have the potential to do well in most landscapes, but also provide a lot of visual interest.
One is the pineapple guava (Acca sellowiana), a small tree with edible flowers and fruit. This highly decorative tree needs little water once established, and pruning is needed only if you wish to shape it.
If you wish to grow California natives, consider planting Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman.’ A small, beautiful, purple lilac tree that can tolerate some summer irrigation, this jewel attracts beneficial insects to your landscape.
The Washington hawthorn, Crataegus phaenopyrum, is a great choice for the gardener looking for a medium-sized tree that can tolerate summer irrigation.
The UC Davis All-Star website describes this tree: “Provides year-round interest with profuse white spring flowers, brilliant scarlet foliage in fall and ornamental fruit clusters in winter; graceful, open-limb structure makes it an attractive patio specimen; disease free in our area; attracts birds.”
I know of several gardeners who have replaced trees that haven’t done well in their landscapes with Washington hawthorns and have had great results.
Another medium-sized tree that can tolerate summer irrigation is Chionanthus retusus, more commonly known as the Chinese fringe tree.
Spring-blooming with dramatic white “fringe,” coupled with grooved and peeling bark, makes this a very attractive tree year-round.
No list of dramatic trees that do well in our area would be complete without mentioning the grand native: the valley oak.
A large, slow-growing tree that does not tolerate summer watering, it should only be grown separate from any plants that require water all year.
This majestic tree provides shade and shelter to mammals, attracts beneficial insects and birds, and tolerates our alkaline soil.
For more information on these trees and many more plants that are proven to grow well in our area, visit http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/arboretum_all_stars.aspx
• University of California-certified master gardeners are available to answer gardening questions from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 953-6112 or email@example.com. Questions for Heather Hamilton can be sent to