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Trees are the most valuable players in your landscape design, and you can keep them healthy by using proper pruning techniques. Photo: Benjamin Balazs/Pixabay

Take Good Care of Your Landscaping Trees

Trees are the most valuable players in your landscape design. They benefit both the environment and the communities in which they are planted. They save energy and clean the air we breathe. They help counteract the urban heat island effect and combat climate change. Trees provide protection from the elements, and even support healing. Invest in tree maintenance to promote their ongoing health.

When to prune your trees

First, for corrective or preventive measures. Second, to remove dead, crowded, or poorly angled branches or to reduce potential hazards. Third, to increase light and air penetration for healthy growth.

Routine thinning does not always improve the health of a tree. Removing large amounts of foliage all at once can reduce growth and stored energy reserves, resulting in stressed trees whose grow stalls.

Pruning should be performed in the best season for the tree to avoid potential disease, and avoid pruning just after the spring growth flush.

Use proper technique to promote healthy trees

There should be a purpose for each cut, as each cut into a tree has the potential to change the growth of the tree for many years to come.

Proper tree pruning technique is essential. Improper or careless pruning can cause damage that extends over the life of the tree. It is important to know where and how to make cuts before beginning the process.

Trees don’t “heal” the same way people do when we sustain a cut or a wound. When a tree is wounded, it compartmentalizes the wound to protect itself. A small cut does less damage than a large cut. Waiting to prune a tree until it is mature can create the need for large cuts that cannot be easily compartmentalized. This can threaten the life of the entire tree. Ongoing and regular maintenance is a must.

Ask for professional assistance

Call on a certified arborist to maintain your trees in optimal health. Arborists are specialists trained in the art and science of planting, caring for, and maintaining individual trees. They can identify and treat diseases before they spread to other trees. Find qualified professionals at the International Society of Arboriculture and the American Society of Consulting Arborists.


This article was inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at SustainableLandscapesSD.org. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

Fruit trees, especially citrus, thrive in San Diego County’s climates with just a little bit of care. The Pineapple Guava (Acca sellowiana) is a good choice with spectacular blooms. Photo: WIkimedia/Creative Commons License Edible Plants

Incredible Edibles In Your Sustainable Landscaping

You don’t have to be a farmer to enjoy edible plants in your sustainable landscaping. Many native plants and herbs have fruit and leaves you can harvest. They can be mixed into any climate-appropriate planting design.

Organic growing methods including sheet mulching (as explained in an earlier post) and integrated pest management ensure the health of the soil, crops, and people who enjoy them.

It’s smart to position edible plants together in your landscaping to take advantage of their irrigation needs in a limited area. If the rest of the landscaping is using minimal water, you can spare a little more for your fruits and veggies in their specific zone. Be sure to irrigate with the most efficient system possible.

Five fruit trees to enjoy

Improved Meyer Lemon trees (Citrus ‘Improved Meyer’) are popular sustainable landscaping features in San Diego County gardens. Photo: Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Improved Meyer Lemon trees (Citrus ‘Improved Meyer’) are popular sustainable landscaping features in San Diego County gardens. Photo: Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Fruit trees, especially citrus, thrive in San Diego County’s climates with just a little bit of care. Some top choices include:

Pomegranate (Punica granatum)

Chinese Date (Ziziphus jujuba)

Santa Rosa Plum (Prunus salicina)

Pineapple Guava (Acca sellowiana)

Improved Meyer Lemon (Citrus ‘Improved Meyer’)

 

This article was inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at SustainableLandscapesSD.org. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

 

 

The Desert Museum Palo Verde tree is an ideal low water use choice for Southern California landscaping. Photo: Danielle Bardgette/Creative Commons-Flickr trees

More Trees, Please

Planting trees improves water quality by reducing runoff and soil erosion. It’s also good for the wallet. Healthy, mature trees can add an average of 10 percent to a property’s overall value. 

Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent, and can save 20 to 50 percent of the energy used for heating. 

Consider the mature size of the three when you first plant it. At the store, it’s probably in a 15-gallon container, but a small tree will grow into a 30-foot tall tree with a 30-foot wide canopy of branches in a few years. If you have selected a large tree, it could be 70 feet tall and equally as wide.  

Make sure the placement of the tree is sufficiently far away from homes and other structures. Small trees (30 feet wide or less at maturity) should be placed no closer than 10 feet. Large trees (70 feet wide or more at maturity) should be planted at least 20 feet from houses.  

Five low water landscape trees 

The Desert Museum Palo Verde tree is an ideal low water use choice for Southern California landscaping. Photo: Danielle Bardgette/Creative Commons-Flickr trees

The Desert Museum Palo Verde tree is an ideal low water use choice for Southern California landscaping. Photo: Danielle Bardgette/Creative Commons-Flickr

Not sure which trees are smart water-wise choices for the San Diego region? These are five favorites. 

Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) 

Desert Museum Palo Verde (Parkinsonia ‘Desert Museum’) 

CA Redbud (Cercis occidentalis) 

Catalina Ironwood (Lyonothamus floribundus) 

Hybrid Strawberry Tree (Arbutus ‘Manna’)  

Consider large shrubs as alternative choices 

California Mountain Lilac grows as a native plan throughout California. It attracts butterflies and other insects. Photo: Wanderingnome/Creative Commons-Flickr trees

California Mountain Lilac grows as a native plan throughout California. It attracts butterflies and other insects. Photo: Wanderingnome/Creative Commons-Flickr

Large shrubs can be good choices for screening unwanted views. But be considerate of the viewshed of your neighborhood. Will the shrubs block a special view for others?  

Several of the best low-water trees and shrubs for screening are:  

Catalina Cherry (Prunus iliofolia ssp. Lyonii) 

Pacific Was Myrtle (Myrica california)  

Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana) 

Tecate Cypress (Cuppressus forbesii) 

California Mountain Lilac (Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’)  

 

This article was inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at SustainableLandscapesSD.org. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.