It is not surprising that the California state tree is also one of its most famous identifiers. The Golden State, though known for many unique geographical and geological facets, is often noted by its famous Redwood forests. As such, the Sequoia is this great state’s tree. Split into two familial subcategories, both the Redwood and Giant Sequoia reach extraordinary heights of between 279 and 379 feet, boasting the tallest and oldest trees known to man. Although a stunning Sequoia in the backyard would certainly add property value, a Californian homeowner has many trees to choose from when planting throughout California’s diverse elevations and climates.
Due to its 13 unique USDA determined growing zones, extreme elevation variances, and divergent climates, the smart Californian grower will need to consider the following; climate, soil type, average precipitation, irrigation, growing zones and weather damage.
Best Trees for California
Read about the specifics for your state in the following sections. If you’re looking for some quick ideas on what to plant, consider the following trees as expert-tested and The Tree Center approved:
Ideal for providing privacy, fast-growing properties, and easy care
- Autumn Purple Ash
Ideal for providing unique fall colors, shade, climate tolerance.
- Dwarf Cavendish Banana Tree
Ideal for bearing fruit, providing character, and moving between inside or outside.
- Tulip Poplar
Ideal for providing fast-growing shade, year-round beauty, and drought resistance.
Fast Growing Privacy Trees in California
As property in California continues to be developed, land owners are searching for trees that will provide privacy from prying neighborly eyes and loud, unwanted noise. There are many fast growing privacy trees in California, which will quickly grow after initial planting to offer your property and family long sought-after privacy.
The Thuja Green Giant, a staple of privacy trees throughout the United States, is a fast-growing pine that will quickly provide a barrier between you and your neighbors. Growing between 3-5 feet a year, the Thuja Green Giant will offer your yard classic French design with minimal hassle. Alternatively, the Italian Cypress and Juniper ‘Wichita Blue’ will also add color and privacy to your yard’s perimeter.
It is logical that a state as large as California would include 13 distinct growing zones. With both the highest and lowest elevation points in the contiguous United States, California offers its growers an expansive selection of trees for planting. The hottest recorded temperature in the world was recorded in California’s Death Valley at 134°F in July 1913, and the lowest recorded temperature in California stands at -45°F since 1937.California’s Rocky Mountains offer eastside mountain rain and westside mountain desert. The Mojave Desert, in the state’s southern region, is hot and dry. A soon-to-be tree planter in California will need to consider access to water, high and low summer and winter temperatures in their specific region, and geographical anomalies prior to planting.
Most trees require well-drained soil rich with minerals to grow. California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley is filled with San Joaquin dirt, which is also the state soil. Fine grains, irrigation properties, and depth concerns characterize this unique soil. Regardless of the property’s location in the Golden State, a soon-to-be tree planter can perform a simple test to determine his/her soil type:
The Squeeze test is aptly named because it requires only a small handful of dirt from just beneath the ground’s surface, and your hands. The soil should be moist, but not drenched. The tester simply squeezes the soil and observes one of the three following events.
1. The soil will hold its shape. If you touch the soil, it will maintain its original shape. You have CLAY.
2. The soil will hold its shape. If you touch the soil, it will collapse. You have LOAM.
3. The soil will fall apart as you open your hands. You have SAND.
Once you know what soil type you have, you can find trees best suited to the dirt’s properties. Loam is the best soil to have, as its unique qualities make it ideal for holding and transferring water to trees.
Average precipitation is meaningless in such a large state. It is best to determine the approximate yearly rainfall in a specific region before planting. The rainiest parts of the state are on West-facing mountain slopes, where the Coast Redwoods lie. Here, planters can expect over 100 inches of rain a year. The Central Valley is split into two precipitation zones. In the northern parts of the valley, rain travels from the Pacific Northwest. In the south, it is much hotter and dryer, though summer fog is frequent. In the various mountain ranges throughout the state, Californian tree planters can enjoy a Mountain Climate, with snow averaging over 10 feet in one season. In the Mojave Desert, south and west side of the Transverse Mountains and Pennisular Mountains, and other more southern regions of the state, Californian homeowners can expect significantly less rain, with as little as 3 inches falling in a given year.
Whether the Californian grower lives in areas prone to floods or drought, irrigation is the best way to control water access to your plants. Regardless of whether the property has fruit trees, shade trees, or evergreens, proper irrigation in the form of consistent, controlled water access is necessary to successful tree growth. California water may be contaminated with salt or minerals, and these can affect the growth of trees. Be sure to test irrigation systems and water quality prior to planting.
California is one of the most diverse states in the United States due to its 13 unique growing zones. Plants are frequently exposed to temperatures as low as -25°F in Zone 4b in the highest elevations of the northern mountains. In the central valleys and areas to the south, the temperature may never dip below 40°F. It is important to refer to the USDA’s growing zones when determining which plants will grow most successfully in a given location.
California is no stranger to natural disasters. Mud slides, flooding, drought, tsunamis, Santa Ana winds, wildfires, volcanoes and earthquakes strike the state frequently. Before planting in California, consider how the new trees and shrubs will respond to these environmental concerns. Tall trees can fall, and small trees can be uprooted easily. Trees are, however, effective at stopping erosion and providing protection. Be sure to take the natural disasters most likely to affect your area into consideration prior to planning your new trees.