But while most of us marvel at these woody wonders and the huge profusion of varieties and species nature has provided, deciding which is the right one to plant in our own yards can be a challenge. Large arboretums and nurseries can contain as many as 200 or more varieties of trees in a bewildering array of shapes, sizes and colors.
Trees can provide shade, bear fruit, bring forth magnificent flowers or simply stand tall, acting as a property delineator or landscaping accent. They can grow fast or slow, and picking the best one begins with ideas that spell out what you want to accomplish.
Once you’ve decided what qualities you’re looking for, go to your city’s Web site to find out what trees your city’s arboreal experts believe grow well in your climate.
City of Brentwood landscape facilities manager Roger Stromgren is pleased with the performance of the Chanticleer fruitless pear as well as the fruitless plum, which puts out dark reddish leaves. The city is looking into the use of a tree called the Sonoran paloverde, a beautiful yellow-leaved tree.
The American sycamore has been used extensively in local communities, but its shallow root system tends to spread out and interfere with irrigation systems. This tree grows rapidly but should be planted with a root barrier.
Another popular East County tree is the crepe myrtle, now cultivated widely throughout the world. Crepe myrtles vary greatly in size, from small shrubs to tall trees. Flowers can range from white to pink, magenta and purple.
No discussion of urban tree selection would be complete without mentioning fruit-bearing trees such as dwarf apple, apricot, peach, pear, cherry, citrus and plum. Most can be found in local nurseries such as Pompei Nursery, 4701 Main St. in Oakley, where box queen palms are also available along with a nice selection of ornamental trees at 20 percent off. Check with Landscape Advisor Terry Gwin.
The University of California Cooperative Extension, www.groups.ucanr.org/cagardenweb/index.cfm, provides valuable information about evergreen, shade, flowering and fruit trees, including how to choose a planting location, and manage pests and diseases.