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13 Trees You Should Never Plant In Your Yard

13 Trees You Should Never Plant In Your Yard

13 Trees You Should Never Plant In Your Yard

For most people, the end of summer and approach of autumn means cooler temperatures, harvest time for crops, and of course, the vibrant colors of changing leaves. For those looking to grow trees or shrubs, however, the approaching fall means it is almost the perfect time to plant for next season. Cooler air with warm earth gives trees and shrubs a chance to establish good root growth before having to face the heat of another summer.

As you prepare to plant, be mindful that while some tree varieties grow quickly or provide a lot of shade, they can come with some less-than-desirable and unexpected consequences. Following is a list of trees you should avoid incorporating into your landscape this fall:


via cc

Ash trees are very prevalent around major metropolitan areas. Commonly used to beautify sidewalks and park settings, these beautiful and strong trees are also the source of professional baseball bats. As rock-hard as ash wood can be, however, this tree is widely being wiped out by a tiny beetle called the emerald ash borer. If you want a tree that will be a long-term resident of your landscape, your money would be better spent on another variety!

Black Walnut

Black WalnutOne of America’s most valuable and beautiful native trees, black walnuts are so sought after for their use in furniture and cabinet making that they actually inspire theft in some areas! For home planting, however, black walnut trees produce a lot of pollen and hard flesh-covered seeds that may just drive you nuts when they litter your yard in the fall. Worse yet, however, are the toxins secreted by this tree that can pretty much wipe out nearby flower beds and vegetable gardens.

Bradford Pear

Bradford Pear

The Bradford pear tree became a favorite of developers due to its ability to create instant shade and grow quickly. The tree produces beautiful white flowers in the spring, but has more than its share of issues. Among them, the fact that the fast growth of the tree leads to weak wood that can be a hazard during storms or windy conditions. Furthermore, the beautiful blossoms are actually quite high on the stench scale. In many areas the Bradford pear is also earning a reputation as an invasive weed.


Randy Robertson via flickr cc

Native to Australia, eucalyptus trees were imported and favored in America for their rapid rate of growth. In fact some varieties can grow up to ten feet in a single year. Unfortunately, eucalyptus can be a bit of a maintenance nightmare due to its seasonal shedding of its bark. Large sticky branches are also known to suddenly drop off and come crashing to the ground (or whatever else happens to be below them).



Ancient and beautiful, gingko trees are hardy in various climates and radiate beautiful yellow colors from their fan-like leaves in the fall. Unfortunately, the female variety of a gingko biloba produces some of the messiest and smelliest fruits of any tree. Often referred to as a “trash tree”, the smell of the distinctive fruits dumped by a female gingko is often compared to that of vomit.

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  3. Very good and accurate information for the layperson. I work at a tree farm/nursery and would like to add a couple of trees to your list. Sweet gum trees are especially beautiful for fall foliage but their seed cases are extremely uncomfortable near a residence. Sycamore trees are large beautiful trees with masses of shade but very messy – exfoliating bark, large thick leaves and seed pods that re-seed at a prolific rate. We grow and sell these, and most of those on your list but make sure the customer is aware and can place the tree properly.

  4. I live next door to several elm trees. They are a nightmare. I pull up HUNDREDS of seedling trees every year.

    • I planted Siberian Elm around the fenceline, now I wish I hadn’t! Their root system is phenomenal, we just had to replace a section of the sewer line as it was full of these roots!

  5. I would like to add another couple of tree species to this list. The first is Russian Olive. Lots of small leaves and bark that sheds. The second is the Cottonwood tree. The cotton clogs air conditioners and can cover the ground with “snow” also can be troublesome with constantly losing branches.

  6. Never, ever purposely plant a sweet gum tree in your yard unless you enjoy stepping on large balls of pointy prickly seeds that must be raked up before you cut your lawn. Or you can take your chances but make sure you are efficient at putting your belt back on. And keep extra blades on hand too, as these balls will wear away your blades. They also have weak limbs that fall during storms. I hate the one that is in my front yard. One of these days I will save enough money to get it cut down.

  7. Good info on what trees NOT to plant (I just cut down a Bradford Pear that the builder put in the front yard), but the obvious question that comes from this article is: so what trees SHOULD we plant?

    • very true 🙂 i will look into that 🙂

      • I like the idea of my landscape working for me, in addition to aesthetically pleasing. I like native trees and bushes for a multitude of reasons such as hardiness. Bear in mind it’s never good to plant near a foundation, although it seems to be a common practice. Also, fruit bearing trees and bushes will attract wildlife (deer, birds, rodents). Squirrels will only nest in hardwoods. Most states have an invasive species list; consult the DNR website and avoid those.

        In my area, I like thorny hawthorns to provide shelter to songbirds but it’s probably not the best selection around kids and dogs unless you plan on teaching them what no means. With the internet, it’s now fairly easy to find out what is native. It’s more difficult to find nurseries that stock natives.

    • Any oak variety, cypress, non-silver maples, sycamore (lots of leaves and seeds), pine and cedars. All trees have their disadvantages, many are victim to diseases and pests. The key is picking ones that work with your landscape, your yard size and proximity to your home. Small yard = avoid big tress. Don’t like maintenance = don’t plant fruit trees. No matter the tree, the time will come to help with with an issue of some sort.

  8. Is this list intended to be region specific? I would have added (at No.1) Crepe Myrtle. In the gulf coast region if you let just 1 in you will pay for it; and lord help you if you buy a house that let them go (like us). I have cut, poisoned, burned, pulled, and dug up to have to do it again the next year. It is worse than kudzu!!

  9. Add Chinese Tallow to that list. It is invasive in the southern coastal areas to the point of kudzu. It has weak wood and huge amounts of seeds that must all sprout. It is filling the forests and choking out native trees. The seed pods are sharp and are hazardous to bare feet.

  10. The catalpa tree has beautiful huge fan likeleaf and orchid like flowers. Those also ooze sap for the duration of the flowering and the leaf are always sticky. Eventually they grow very long seed pods which remain on the tree until they split and the wind carries the pods and seeds for hundreds of feet, seedlings are quick to grow and quickly develop a deep tap root that is difficult to remove.

  11. Great information, thank you. I own acreage and had a very low wet area that took most of the summer to dry up, making mowing a pain in the butt. I bought a weeping willow several years ago, and once it got established, it has done a remarkable job of keeping this low area dry. They do have their good points and good uses, as long as one is mindful not to plant them close to drain fields, water or sewer lines etc. Mine is also not close to the house or garage so falling branches, should there be any, would not cause a problem.

  12. Another to tree to add is ‘BAMBOO’… Its hard to kill and eradicate once you plant it. The roots system grows deep. Roundup only browns the leaves for a short time, then grows thicker as it seeds.

  13. What about Chinese Elm trees? Do you know anything about those?

  14. Australian Pines they are very invasive and cause a lot of underground problems including starting new trees all along the the root trail… JUST HAD A LOT OF THEM REMOVED..they were on public property but were invading my underground utilities…the City removed them and we found out the are not approved in sum Florida counties.

  15. black walnut is an excellent prepping tree since the nuts can be stored for long periods of time. The green husk of the nut can be put in a pillow case or sack, smashed throughly, dip well in a body of water and knock fish out for easy catching. The bark of the willow tree can be chewed for its aspirin ingredients. The Bradford pear tree is great for hubby bees. Nice site for a city dwelling home owner but horrible for preppers

    • That’s honey bees. Sweet gums, however bad the balls are, is an excellent food source for birds. Catapala trees are great for the catapuller that eats the leaves. The catapuller is an excellent fishing worm. Bamboo is a fast growing plant and is being used for pulp in some regions taking the place of pine trees

  16. I wanted to say that Lindens are good prepping trees. You can use linden blooms to make tea that helps against coughing (pick fresh blooms, dry and use in winter). This tea will also help to lower fewer.
    Also bark of young linden tree shoots were used as a rope because they bend nicely and are strong.

  17. I would have to disagree with some of those choices. I plant black walnuts (nuts/dye/wood) along with hackberry (fruit/wood) trees and mulberries (fruit and great coppicing tree for firewood) around those. This combo is excellent as the hackberry negates the juglone to a certain extent and allows other things to grow around them. All of these are food producing trees and that is very valuable to me. I would also love to have several female ginko trees that were old enough to bear fruit. The nuts, once cleaned are absolutely delicious and very high in protein. I also love the lindens because they are a multipurpose tree and that is what I am looking for. Willow makes pain reliever (bark) and the growing tips can be steeped to make a natural rooting hormone so I get to make even more trees and shrubs. I suppose permaculture preppers look for different things in their trees than most.

  18. Please consider adding the Bean Tree. This tree is absolutely horrid. My neighbor has one and all winter and spring when the wind blows, I get those horrid bean pods about 12″ long and I get hundreds upon hundreds of these in my yard. My neighbors feel the same way but I am the most that the most of the pods. The bean seeds root fast if I don’t get them quickly and there will be a ton of bean trees. I even get them in my dog yard which has a 6 foot fence.

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  20. Add Siberian elm and tree of heaven (ailanthus). We live in a river valley and these spread like weeds. The ailanthus are almost impossible to eradicate. The elms get slime flux and elm leaf beetles, so are generally nasty, weepy trees. They both are heavy consumers of water as well.

    • I don’t think anyone actually plants tree of heaven. Tree of Heaven just show up in your yard and try to make it into a forest. They do where I live at least.

  21. Nice trees for the desert SW include London Plane tree, other sycamores, oaks (cork oak or emory oak especially here in the arid SW), pecan and other fruit trees. If you are at high enough altitude, pinyon pine is a winner.

  22. I plan on getting a linden tree next year love the smell, and I’m a bee keeper.

  23. No mention of one of the worst tree for my area. The dreaded China-berry. The whole tree is toxic especially the fruit. Fast growing weak wood is constantly breaking. The seed sprout everywhere and become an invasion mess. You mentioned ash trees as a bad choice. But not all Ash trees are the same The native ash tree of my area Texas Ash (also called Mexican Ash) is a slow growing variety. Not like the Arizona ash. I also noticed the Chinese Tallow and Cottonwood didn’t make the list.

    • Chinaberry Tree (Melia Azedarach) WORST TREE EVER! True definition of a weed tree! I’ve had many of the ones in the list and NONE were near as bad as this one! The ONLY thing that’s good about them is they give shade and ANY tree will do that! Extremely messy-always dropping something: leaves, stems, flowers, or huge amounts (thousands) of drupes (aka marble sized toxic-to-humans berries). They get about 30 to 50 foot tall and have weak limbs that break easily (I mean just the weight of the drupes will break large branches!) contributing to the mess. They say the tiny, can’t see, flowers smell good-their litter gets everywhere, but nope never smelled them, but the leaves smell extremely noxious. The berries get everywhere and will sprout baby trees all over-flowerbeds, gutters, cracks, anywhere. Shallow root systems clog drains & septic system. Previous owners thought a few would be great-right next to the house, patio, driveway and septic. I’ve had huge branches fall on my roof, tear off my gutters, and smash my plants below. It’s costing me $500 to get rid of them! STAY AWAY!

  24. Maples are another tree to watch out for. They love to have their roots at the surface. Trip hazards and a nightmare to using a lawnmower over. Magnolias…leaves are hard to get rid of. Seed pods are a pain in the a$$. All trees have their good points and bad points. Just know what you are getting before planting.

  25. My willow saved our property! We had uneven landscape that filled with water then drained down into our back yard creating ridges and fence destruction. We planted a willow and we have had no yard flooding since. It also provides play space for the children and great shade for swings.
    Sometimes there are needs got these trees. I love my willow!

  26. It’s good for people to be aware of what they are committing to when they plant a tree, however some of these trees can be good choices for particular circumstances. If you have a stream bank, for example, a willow can help hold it together and protect it from erosion from spring flooding. Silver maples and Lombardy (and other) poplars grow fast and provide quick shade and beauty, as long as you plant hard maple or other long-lasting trees to take their place as they age out in 15-20 years. As for trees that litter, nothing dumps more leaves than a good healthy rock maple tree! There are no “perfect” trees out there, just choices from benefits vs. drawbacks. Some have more than others (and yes, I have seen black walnuts literally cripple and kill other trees!).

  27. Another tree that is a real mess is a locust tree. And never plant mesquite trees in your yard, they have a weak root system, I guess, because they are easily uprooted. I do love mimosas though and will put up with the mess. Sycamores grow fast but only live about 25 years and are pretty messy with their peeling bark. They do turn a beautiful yellow in the Fall though.

  28. Ok, I read page one of two. I cant seem to find the button or arrow to continue reading the 13 trees you should avoid. Kibda getting sick of the hidden link butoons abd click on nothibg but advertiser links. Turned me off from reading any further articles.

  29. i feel like we are missing a big one here! chinese sumac! “tree of heaven” “tree of paradise”–more like tree from HELL! my front and back yard were so overwhelmed by this evil tree that we had to spend $900 to get it all removed! As soon as you sever this tree’s stem/trunk, it immediately redirects its nutrients to TONS of tiny offshoots and saplings connected to one root system. Incredibly invasive and difficult to eradicate, it killed my roses and threatened my grass and vegetable garden! Yet people still use this tree really commonly in landscaping; I see it EVERYWHERE.

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