Q. I am on our landscape committee for a Henderson, Nevada, HOA. Needing professional advice, I thought of you immediately, as a longtime resident I read your weekly column and read your blog. This fall we are going to remove many dead and diseases trees in our small community. Mostly privets that thru the years have died after we converted to desert landscape from grass. Others are mainly Russell Ashes that are diseased and or have dead limbs and with pruning look terrible, lopsided, etc. I am without hope that with the pruning done they will ever pull out of it. The various landscapers thru the years used the ashes as replacements and as I have read in your column are no longer considered a good choice. Most of all our yards in our small community face either East or West. We have been advised to replace the trees with Fruitless Olives or Living Oak. All yards are small and have rock mulch. As many other communities we are cash poor and need to make a wise decision, because it will be expensive. We will be replacing approximately 25-30 trees. The other mature 15 yr. old trees in our landscape are sycamore and for the most part doing well, along with a few other Desert Willows,etc. We are looking for evergreen, shade trees if possible.
you so much,
I forwarded this email to a certified horticulturist working here in southern Nevada. She has worked with plant selection for a number of years and enjoys answering this type of question.I do want to mention that sycamores are a poor choice as a landscape tree for single-story or even two-story residences. They just get too tall, they consume a lot of water and require a lot of maintenance because they are out of their climate zone. In my opinion they should not be planted in hot desert climates and desert soils. They are a larger scale tree and require big properties to look good. They do well in arid climates provided there is enough water for them. Certainly they should not be planted in large quantities.
A. Bob Morris forwarded your email to me. I am Andrea Meckley, a certified horticulturist working here in the Las Vegas area since 1992. I understand your situation with the privet trees doing poorly. Since you are going through the expense of replacement I realize you want to make good choices. Below are a few thoughts:
1. Fruitless Olives:
Pros: evergreen, little leave drop
Cons: slow grower, sometimes they will fruit even though they are not supposed to. If this happens you can apply a solution to stop them from fruiting if it concerns you.
2. Southern Live Oak:
Cons: slow grower, debris from leaves and acorns
Between the two above I would choose the Olive.
Since you have existing Sycamore and Desert Willow trees that are deciduous, I would also consider the following medium size evergreen and semi-evergreen trees: Xylosma tree (Xylosma congestum), Holly Oak (Quertcus ilex), Blue Palo Verde (Parkinsonia florida) , Desert Museum Palo Verde (Parkinsonia 'Desert Museum'), Bay Laurel standard trunk tree (Laurus nobilis), and Shoestring Acacia (Acacia stenophylla) which may be a little messy. One good source for good pictures and more information can be seen at snwa.com under 'landscapes' and then under 'plant search'. Please contact me if you wish to discuss further.
Hope this helps.
Andrea Meckley, CH