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10 Trees That Will Ruin Your Yard

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10 Trees That Will Ruin Your Yard
4 min. read

Image: saichol chandee / Shutterstock.com

Trees can make a really cool addition to your landscaping, providing shade and beautifying your yard. Yet not all of them are created equal. In fact, some trees are so uncool you’d best think twice before bringing them anywhere near your home. Here are 10 species that will damage your yard, your neighbors’ yards, and even the environment.

Bradford Pear

Although its flowers are gorgeous in spring and the leaves turn a stunning shade of red in autumn, Bradford Pear is more trouble than it’s worth. Its blossoms actually produce an awful, rotting fish smell, that neither you nor your neighbors will enjoy. The tree’s branches are quite fragile, and all it takes is a storm or a heavy snowfall to break them off.

Ginkgo

It’s not the ginkgo tree that’s the problem, but rather the fruit. It contains butyric acid, which is found in vomit, as well as animal fat. Let’s just say that once the ginkgo fruit falls on the ground, it won’t make for a very pleasant odorous experience. On the flip side, if you want to plant ginkgo in your garden, make sure to plant a male tree, as it’s only the female trees that generate the smelly fruit offerings.

Mulberry

Mulberry is the kind of tree that’s worth growing if you’re really environmentally minded, as it attracts birds and insects. The downside is that it’s a remarkably messy tree. It produces a lot of fruit that stains everything it touches, and is also a pain to clean up. Male trees produce lots of pollen, which will trigger allergies in spring, while the roots grow so fast they can even lift sidewalks.

Eastern Cottonwood

Cottonwood is a popular choice with homeowners due to its low-maintenance and majestic looks. However, it has a shallow root system, and it’s very susceptible to rotting. All it takes is a storm for it to fall over and deal serious damage to your yard, even your house. Also, as the name implies, it produces cottony seeds, which will fly across the entire neighborhood, creating a very messy nuisance.

Silver Maple

Silver maple is another tree that, in spite of its fast growth, stunning looks, and low maintenance, doesn’t make the best addition to your yard. The wood itself is quite brittle, which makes the tree vulnerable during storms or heavy snowfalls. On the other hand, it has a very strong root system, which can expand and take over the yard, causing cracks in the pavement and even in the building’s foundations.

Weeping Willow

Willow is an appealing choice due to its elegant looks and swaying canopy. However, it’s one of the thirstiest trees out there, and will drain your yard dry. Its roots are designed to dig deep into the soil in search of water, and in the process they can deal serious damage to sewer pipes. It also grows faster than you think, and at 60 feet wide, it will take over your yard before you know it.

Black Walnut

Although black walnuts are edible, the tree itself produces toxins that are harmful to other plants in your garden. The roots produce an organic compound called juglone, which can stunt the growth of many plants, which is why you’ll notice that very rarely does anything grow under a black walnut. Also, the fruit themselves can be difficult to clean from your yard, especially when the outer layer starts decomposing.

Persian Silk Tree

Also known as Mimosa tree, this can be the highlight of your garden for a few weeks in spring, when its pink flowers are in bloom. But once they wilt, you may start to reconsider. This is an invasive species, spreading through both seeds and sprouts after it’s been cut down, while producing biochemicals that prevent other plants from growing. Its wood is also very soft, making it an unreliable tree in windy weather.

Empress Tree

Popular for its lush, purple flowers, the empress tree is an invasive species that has already started destroying native ecosystems, from Texas and Florida all the way to the Pacific Northwest. Its seeds sprout very fast, with saplings that are difficult to remove, taking over your entire garden and beyond in no time.

Russian Olive

Another invasive species that, although ornamental, will cause damage to both your yard and the environment. It is very hardy and resilient, and even if you cut it down, it will grow back with a vengeance. In fact, selling and intentionally spreading this tree is illegal in some states. Its olives are edible, but unless you’re ready to spend a lot of time picking them, prepare for the messy job of cleaning them off your yard.

2 Comments

  • Is the white birch tree the same as the silver maple? Similar? An Ontario question.

    • Andra Hopulele says:

      Hi Beverly,

      Thank you for your interest and for writing!
      To answer your question, although both are deciduous trees, the white birch, also known as the paper birch is rather short-lived and can easily be recognized due to its white bark, which is covered in dark grey and black markings and branch scars that often look like an eye. The silver maple is easily-recognizable due to its palmately-lobed leaves, with five lobes that are very deep.

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