trees for the backyard

Hi there, Im a new subscriber whos lurked around the search engine of this group for a while. This morning, new neighbors just cut down a beautiful tree that was the corner tree for 4 house lots. This is the second time in a couple years that neighbors have hacked away at their backyards, replacing trees with other beautiful items, such as storage sheds. I figure it's time for me to reverse this trend, and I have no idea how, so I have subscribed. :)
I now have some ugly views of neighbors' windows and backyards. I think it's time for me to plant some trees myself. However I have no idea what to plant. Hoping to get some advice... Not sure what my climate zone is, but it's San Jose, California--dry, summers get to 90-100 on hot days, winters have occasional freezes but usually only once or twice a season. Lots of sun. My house is positioned in a way that I have a back fence that gets directly hit by the morning sun. The corner of the fence that is now treeless gets mid-day sun...about 4 hours direct. For comparison, citrus trees grow well here (but i need something faster and taller). I'd like something that grows fast but doesn't drop it's leaves, and doesnt grow too big... enough to obscure a second-story bedroom window, and there's pools in the backyards, so roots can't be a problem. The ground space I have to work with is about 5 feet deep held by a retaining wall.
Im also looking at planting more (my neighbors are going to hate me) but this is the current priority.
Looking forward to angering my neighbors with some arbor pollution, can anyone help?
Thanks in advance,
Court
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Yes. here are some problems that you can avoid from the start.
--
Many tree problems are associated with the following: They are Case
Sensitive.
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On Tue, 28 Aug 2007 19:14:27 -0400, "symplastless"
Ready, fire, aim
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And this is helpful? How?
--
FB - FFF

Billy

Get up, stand up, stand up for yor rights.
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wrote:

Made me feel a bit better.
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So does farting. But it is best done in private.
--
FB - FFF

Billy

Get up, stand up, stand up for yor rights.
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Not if you have a point to make.
FFF Charlie
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That takes the wind out of my sails;-)
Farting For Freedom is another matter. Come on folks, raise a big stink.
--
FB - FFF

Billy

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Fast growing trees are typically quite weak-wooded and short lived... so you might want to consider the "so now I have to take it out" factor in your decisions. You might want to grow something fast now, as well as something that grows more slowly -- then take out the fast growing tree as soon as the others have a bit of growth. You've also got city forestry laws to keep in mind... I think there are penalties in San Jose for cutting trees

You're in USDA zone 9, which means the coolest temperature you see in 10 years, on average, is not below 20o, probably Sunset zone 15. Do you have a copy of the Sunset Western Gardens book?
Revisiting your idea of an evergreen tree... is this because you want a green crown all year, or do you just not want to rake leaves? Some of the leguminous trees -- mimosa for one example -- have such fine leaflets that when they fall, they virtually disappear.
Where and how high are any power or phone lines? How big a canopy spread can your yard accomodate? What easements are on your property?
Kay
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Good One
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Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr.
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Thanks for the tip. Seems a trellis is going to go there for as a few nice ones here brought up that idea

Yes i have a copy, but its intimidating :)

There's a pool nearby, so I have to keep things as clean as possible.

No phone lines in the way, This particular area isnt that wide for canopy maybe 10-12 feet total (assuming neighbors will chop off branches if it gets wider), I want a wider tree for the front yard, but I better save that for a different post. Easements are pretty lax, as mentioned, neighbors get chop-happy if anything intrudes that they don't approve of, but this time, at least they wont own the trunk.

Thanks, great advice!!!!!! -Court
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Well, yes, it probably should be <g> -- picking a good tree for the location should be a matter of great thought, so you don't have to do it over again at great expense. We've lived on our property about 4 years now, and I'm just now starting to decide what trees go and what stay (and for how long) and what new trees I want where and how I'm going to source them. I'm still shaking my head over the irrigated weeping willows the previous owners had planted. Those did go right away. Totally inappropriate species for the climate and totally inappropriate planting locations on the property lines.
And the arborvitae that were planted three feet out from the house are interesting... the living room window was half-blocked, the siding rotted in spots because the tree held moisture against the wood in one area... I've given them a hard pruning on the house side, but they're just in a holding pattern till some shrubs grow in.
One of my favorite tips for planting trees: find out how big the tree should get. Lay out that crown dimension on the ground, using a stick and string to draw the circumference and flour to mark the edges of the crown. Then think again about your choice before actually buying the tree.

You do know that most evergreen trees shed a little all year around, right? As opposed to "do it and get it over with once a year"?
And where is the pool, and who owns it? How many feet from the proposed location?

Unfortunately, a tree with a spreading canopy that's getting half of the crown whacked off can get pretty unstable in bad weather, just because of the structural imbalance.
No, easements like underground utilities, cable, sewer lines, all the stuff that goes into supporting a city are what I wanted to know about. Should be on your deed.
What I'm hearing right now is that you're going to need a fastigiate (columnar) tree for the back yard, or a trellis or pergola with interesting plants in such tight spaces. Me, I'd go for a pergola/loggia in that amount of space.
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We've lived on our property about 4 years now, and I'm

yes it appears that a previous owner cut down what appeared to be about a half dozen pine trees (stumps have been left behind). My neighbor told me that the property was overrun with them a few years before I moved in. there is one left out front, and it's 1/2 dead anyways so it has to go. What sucks is that its about the only tree left amongst 4 houses!
I have been scoping out the trees that have been planted by developers when new houses get built, and they seem to be a pretty common tree for the whole area, so I'm thinking of clipping a piece and bringing it into a tree nursery to find out the name. The trees seem to be picked for their hardiness and non-damaging nature. They grow at a decent rate too (about 12 feet in 3 years) but stop at a certain height of 20 or so feet.
San Jose seems to be getting famous for infestations of strange foreign bugs as well, and I dont like chemicals, so i'll need to find something hardy. (Willows seem to grow well here, we even have a neighborhood close by called Willow Glen :)

thanks. I'll also see how it will look if neighbors cut half of it away ;)

It's my pool, it's about 12 feet from the location the tree would be planted. I also would like to keep cleanup for neighbors at a minimum. Im guessing the small shedding over time would not catch their attention as much, thus not blaming me.
Eventually for the front yard i'd like to plant a nice blossoming tree, but my neighbor, a nice old lady, would be stuck with the leaves, based on how the wind blows. (offering cleanup i suppose would be a nice gesture, and she does make great oatmeal cookies...)

fastigate! A word i have been searching for to describe this. Thanks! i feel oner word smarter and farther down the path of finding the right tree, or other space-filling idea. I was planning to build a roof over my deck next spring, so maybe i can extend it and have a matching pergola over there. I'll get back at them with a wisteria fed on miracle-gro. (kidding!) Thanks for the advice!
-Court
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Try looking in the pages at the front of Sunset re: plants to use near swimming pools. In my book its on page130 'Treelike Plants

Here are a couple of ideas to look up in Sunset or your nursery: both are evergreen, moderate growth, small leaves when they drop are not a big mess, and both are grown as hedges so they don't mind pruning. Both grow well here in Butte County which has a similar climate. Pittosporum tobira (has very fragrant flowers... better for front than around a pool, attracts bees during bloom) Podocarpus macrophyllus
Emilie NorCal

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hey thanks! That book is so huge i never knew where to start. I will look those up.
-Court
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I strongly suggest you have your property surveyed by a reputable local plant nursery. They probably won't charge you more than $100 and could even be free if you give them the planting job, which I also strongly recommend... since you don't want to wait half a lifetime for a sapling to become a tree it would behoove you to have more sizable specimens professionally planted... many arid clime evergreens are very slow growing. As angry as you sound you'll probably be very happy with instant eyesore blockage. The nursery may also recommend other appropriate screening besides trees... vines work well on a trellis, especially grape vines. But just planting whatever strikes your fancy without professional intervention will very likely turn out to be a big mistake, a huge waste of time, energy, and money. Without actually seeing your property with my own eyes all the specific advice I could offer would be wild speculation, even photos don't offer real help. Have a professional come to your property. And don't rush headlong into any plan thrust upon you, take some weeks to mull things over, mistakes can be very costly and you may have to live with the wrong trees for a very long time, if you're not already too old, trees just don't grow very rapidly, not even the fastest growers... a newly planted tree typically needs five years to completely recover from transplant shock before it actually shows measurable growth. One specific piece of advice I will offer, make sure that whatever you decide, that it won't grow so it hangs over on your neighbor's side of the property line... if laws are still as they were when I lived in So Cal neighbors can lop off whatever hangs on their side, I can still remember the fig tree wars.
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Great advice. Thank you! Thoughts of a trellis with a vine for the meantime sounds like a nice plan. I'll see what tree nurseries are around to scope out my yard.
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Right, and less rain than other nearby areas (the usual climate zones are just about the coldest winter temperature - they don't express how hot and dry San Jose summers are, even compared with San Francisco, Santa Cruz, etc). So forget about coastal redwood for example (well, it is probably too big as well, but the point is that it won't be particularly happy about the San Jose dry climate).
Maybe California Buckthron ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhamnus_californica )? Maybe too short. That page says "2-5 m tall" (6-15 feet) and I don't know if 15 feet is as big as you want even if your plant did get that tall.
Madrone has beautiful bark ( http://www.calfloranursery.com/pages_plants/pages_a/arbmen.html ).
I don't know, I didn't have a garden when I lived in California. So I don't really know these plants from a gardener's point of view. I'm mostly just browsing sites like:
http://www.baynatives.com / http://www.berkeleyhort.com/gardensuggestions/gs_ja07_trees.html http://www.calfloranursery.com/pages_plantlists/trees.html
I would spend some time researching what to plant. Even a fast-growing tree will probably take a while (and the fast-growing ones may have other problems like short life). Picking the right tree will increase the chances that it survives, lasts a while and does what you hope it will.
You might think about trying out a few non-trees (maybe just while you are waiting for the tree to grow up). Something like a vine on a trellis/cage, or some taller flower like a goldenrod, might partially block your view of that neighbor's shed while you wait for the tree to grow up.
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http://www.baynatives.com/http://www.berkeleyhort.com/gardensuggestions/gs_ja07_trees.htmlhttp://www.calfloranursery.com/pages_plantlists/trees.html
The trellis idea seems like a good one for now. I'll look these plants and trees up. Thanks for the tips!
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