Willow problem

In our backyard, we have (I believe) a large willow tree. A couple days ago, half of the tree broke off and is laying in the yard. Take a look...
http://www.petenelson.com/temp/tree06.jpg
http://www.petenelson.com/temp/tree09.jpg
http://www.petenelson.com/temp/tree10.jpg
Been doing some research on the net and I see that the previous owners made a big mistake in planting a willow this close to the house. It's about 5-6 feet away from the patio and maybe 20 feet away from the house. This is much too large of a tree to plant in such a small yard and the wide-reaching, shallow roots would have eventually caused problems with the patio and possibly the foundation. Someone is coming this morning to give me an estimate on its removal.
My guess is that it's been cracked for a while based on the weathering near the top of the break and either wind or weight finally took over.
A few questions...
What kind of tree is this? Here is a better look at the branches (where it took out a planter).
http://www.petenelson.com/temp/tree07.jpg It's about 30-40ft tall and grows extremely fast.
What should I replace it with? I'd like to have a tree that will provide decent shade and not grow too large. We have a small suburban backyard and the tree would be planted in a sprinklered lawn. We live in northen California, about 40 miles ENE of San Fran. Very little rain between May-Sept with temps in the mid 70s-80s, couple inches of rain/month between Nov-April with temps in the mid 50s-60s.
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Pete Nelson wrote:

It is definitely a willow, most likely some form of Salix alba or babylonica. As you note, not a good choice for a small urban garden - grows too big too fast and with a very aggressive root system, particularly where water sources (water mains, irrigation systems, plumbing) is concerned. Also prone to a lot of disease and insect problems and wind damage.
For your climate, a good alternative would be some form of Japanese maple - relatively small, compact trees, provide nice, dappled shade and offer some wonderful foliage color. Not an aggressive root system like many other maples species. Other choices would be a smaller magnolia (deciduous or evergreen), a Western redbud, fern pine (Podocarpus), Japanese snowbell or pretty much any dwarf or semi-dwarf fruit tree, including the ornamental (non-fruiting) ones.
One thing about smaller trees - they tend to grow more slowly than those that put on considerable height. It may take some time for an affordable small tree to develop significant size and provide adequate shade. You can always locate and purchase larger, specimen-sized trees, but be prepared to pay a premium for them - you are paying for the time and trouble the grower invested to get the tree to that size.
pam - gardengal
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<snip>
And yet time passes so quickly. My neighbor bought a slender twig of a pecan tree perhaps 5' tall just a few (well, 5-6) years ago. It's now 20' tall and casting a good amount of dappled shade. As you say, in the (nursery) plant world, time IS money.
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A long time ago we had a neighbor with a willow that covered his entire backyard. From a distance it looked good, but the huge surface roots made the ground unusable for most activity. He also had sewer problems from the roots.
Drought conditions may limit your choices. But, willows prefer moist soil conditions. You may want to test the pH of your soil--most trees prefer slightly acid soils, others alkaline. Selecting a tree is personal choice--I like ginko trees, in time they can get tall and have a striking yellow leaf color in fall.
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I haven't checked to see how they do in your climate, but you might want to consider one of the thornless varieties of honeylocust (glyditsia or something like that). They throw a light dappled shade, have a pretty texture and leaf color, and the leaves are very small, so they don't make big piles of messy looking stuff when they drop in the fall. They're planted in my climate, which is also a dry summer climate, and seem to do fine, although I'd think they'd need a fair amount of irrigation the first 2 or 3 years until well-established. Although they might get taller than you were thinking, they grow slowly here, and have the more delicate structure of smaller trees.

ago, half of the

made a big mistake

from the patio and

plant in such a

caused problems with

give me an

near the top of the

it took out a

tall and grows

decent shade and

be planted in a

San Fran. Very

of rain/month

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Just wanted to say thanks for all the excellent input!
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As long as we're doing a "willow" thang...<G>
ARTIST: Gilbert and Sullivan TITLE: Tit-Willow
[From Mikado]
On a tree by a river a little tom-tit Sang "Willow, titwillow, titwillow" And I said to him, "Dicky-bird, why do you sit Singing 'Willow, titwillow, titwillow'" "Is it weakness of intellect, birdie?" I cried "Or a rather tough worm in your little inside" With a shake of his poor little head, he replied "Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!"
He slapped at his chest, as he sat on that bough Singing "Willow, titwillow, titwillow" And a cold perspiration bespangled his brow Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow He sobbed and he sighed, and a gurgle he gave Then he plunged himself into the billowy wave And an echo arose from the suicide's grave "Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow"
Now I feel just as sure as I'm sure that my name Isn't Willow, titwillow, titwillow That 'twas blighted affection that made him exclaim "Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow" And if you remain callous and obdurate, I Shall perish as he did, and you will know why Though I probably shall not exclaim as I die "Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow"
John
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