Think Twice Before Planting These Trees In Your Yard

Let’s face it, trees are absolutely gorgeous. I may have fallen a little bit in love with every tree I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Just because all trees are beautiful that doesn’t mean that all trees are great to have in your yard. Some trees make better yard trees than others.

You have to weigh the pros and cons of any tree that you want to introduce to your garden. Keep reading to find out which trees may create more problems than they’re worth.

Birch Trees Take Over Your Space

Straupitz: A birch forest with its distinctive white-black trunks in a forest on the edge of the Spreewald is coloured in autumn.
Photo by Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images
Photo by Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Birch trees are absolutely iconic. We would recognize that white bark anywhere. They are picturesque and painterly and everything good about trees. However, they are also quite invasive. Once you plant them, nothing will grow near that tree. Birches have shallow roots that make the surrounding soil super hard.

Birch trees also attract a garden-destroying pest called the bronze birch borer. These beetles lay their eggs in birch trees, and their larvae feed on the insides of plants.

Eastern White Pines Leak Sap Everywhere

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DeAgostini/Getty Images
Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Eastern white pines can grow to be huge and absolutely stunning, but some gardeners think that they’re more trouble than they’re worth. nature didn’t skimp on the sap when it came to creating white pine trees. These deciduous trees will leave a sticky mess all over your yard, your car, your house, basically everywhere.

This tree will drop sticky debris that can damage car paint as well as clothing. You definitely wouldn’t want one of these trees hanging over your driveway or back patio.

Sycamores Make A Huge Mess

Fall Color Pops Along The Santa Ynez River
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images
Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

We love sycamore trees for so many reasons. We love that Pocahontas sings about them in that old Disney movie, we love the way the word sounds, and we love how their little seed pods look. We don’t love to clean up those seed pods, though.

These trees are notorious for dirtying homes with seedpods and leaves. Sycamores are also prone to fungal diseases like anthracnose, which can drop more leaves. Basically, don’t plant a sycamore in your yard unless you have hours to dedicate to cleaning out your gutters.

Ash Trees Are Under Attack

Sunlight Through An Ash Tree, UK
Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images
Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images

Ash trees are beautiful to look at, however, they can be super difficult to maintain. While these trees are generally pretty resilient, a new predator is threatening to wipe out the whole species. Ash trees are currently under attack by the emerald ash borer. Across 30 states, these beetles have destroyed tens of millions of ash trees, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

As of now, there are treatment options for ash trees rotted by emerald borers, but there is no cure.

Certain Ginkgo Trees Can Pollute Your Garden

Golden Ginkgo Leaves In Beijing
Photo by Wang Baosheng/Qianlong.com/VCG via Getty Images
Photo by Wang Baosheng/Qianlong.com/VCG via Getty Images

Ginkgo trees are absolutely stunning. They have uniquely shaped leaves that are instantly recognizable. However, it’s good to note that some Ginkgos are friendlier than others. For example, you probably don’t want to plant a female ginkgo biloba in your yard. These trees drop smelly fruit that quickly pollute your garden, driveway, or patio.

Stick to selections like “Fairmount,” “Autumn Gold,” and “Saratoga” Ginkgos to guarantee that there’s no fruit. Ginkgos can live for over 3000 years, so you really want to be careful with your initial selection.

You’re Going To Have To Do A Lot Of Raking If You Have Honey Locust Trees

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DeAgostini/Getty Images
DeAgostini/Getty Images

Honey locust trees are big and stunning and colorful, but when considering getting a honey locust for your yard, make sure to choose one that doesn’t drop seed pods. There are multiple types of honey locusts, and some of them drop seed pods that are far more difficult to rake than cleaning up leaves.

Do your research and pick a variety that isn’t going to leave you with a mess in the fall. Trust me, you don’t want to spend your free time raking pods.

Staghorn Sumac Trees Cause Skin Reactions

Staghorn Sumac, Anacardiaceae
DeAgostini/Getty Images
DeAgostini/Getty Images

Who wouldn’t want a gorgeous red sumac tree in their yard? Plus, you can harvest the flowers and using them in cooking. However, you might want to stay away from this plant if you have sensitive skin. The deciduous shrub, which can reach 15-30 feet in height, is related to poison ivy.

Although Staghorn sumac isn’t poisonous, some people may have an allergic reaction to it. Pick a different red tree if you want to add color to your yard but you’re worried about skin reactions.

Sweetgum Trees And Their Terrible Seeds

Woman reaches up to touch a sweet gum tree.
Winson Wong/South China Morning Post via Getty Images
Winson Wong/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

In the fall, there are few more beautiful sights than sweetgum trees in their full glory. Is that beauty really worth all of those seeds, though? Sweetgum trees drop seedpods that have tough, spiny exteriors. These pods can easily get stuck in your grass and any surrounding plants. They also attract a large host of birds to your yard.

Also, because sweetgum trees have invasive root systems, they can damage your home’s foundation, patio, garden, and driveway.

Weeping Willows Have Aggressive Roots

Student studies her report under a weeping willow tree
In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images
In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

Weeping willows are super romantic. They make any outdoor space look a whole lot more serene and majestic. Still, willow roots are strong and aggressive, and they’ve been known to damage pavement and water lines. Also, the roots absorb all the soil’s water.

Also, because willow roots are so moist, they attract a whole lot of bugs which can leach onto your other plants. You might want to think twice before getting your very own willow tree.

Eastern Cottonwood Trees Are Prone To Disease

eastern-cottonwood
poacewave/Instagram
poacewave/Instagram

Some homeowners love cottonwood trees because they’re aesthetically pleasing and low-maintenance. However, they’re also fragile. They have shallow and soft root systems that are prone to disease. If the roots rot, the tree will fall during the next big storm.

True to its name, Eastern cottonwoods also produce cotton-like spores that stick to everything. The trunk is brittle and easily rots from insects and diseases. If you don’t want to risk a huge tree falling on your car or home, don’t plant a cottonwood.

Chinese Flame Trees Germinate Like Crazy

A Chinese flame tree is near the University of Hong Kong.
Twitter/@CUHKofficial
Twitter/@CUHKofficial

Chinese flame trees have a lot going for them: they’re drought-tolerant, pest-resistant, and bloom beautifully in the summer. But one tree quickly turns into a forest. After blooming, the seed capsules blow everywhere. Once the seed hits the soil, it germinates. And that’s an issue.

That’s why The Grumpy Gardner Steve Bender called Chinese flame trees the “Worst Tree I Ever Planted” in a Southern Living article. The seeds spread to every corner of your yard and, according to Bender, your neighbor’s yard. Once you plant this tree, you’ll spend the rest of your days working to stop it from spreading.

One Eucalyptus Can Destroy Your Soil

The minaret of the Lakemba Mosque photographed through Australian eucalyptus trees
Cole Bennetts/Getty Images
Mikel Bilbao /VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Eucalyptus trees are largely admired for their honey-like smell. But don’t plant one in your yard, or else your soil will suffer. Eucalyptus trees require a lot of nutrients and water. Not only do they dehydrate quickly, but they also rob the earth of all its nutrients, causing your other plants to wither.

From an environmental perspective, eucalyptus trees have little to offer in yards. Their canopy is too fragile to support nests, and their leaves don’t feed many species of animals. Additionally, a eucalyptus tree in drought conditions could suddenly drop one of its heavy branches, which is very dangerous.

Tulip Poplars Drop Twigs

A tulip blooms on the branch of a tulip poplar.
Pinterest/Emily Brown
Pinterest/Emily Brown

Tulip poplars look gorgeous, especially when their leaves turn orange. However, it’s best to never sit under this tree. Tulip poplars tend to drop branches and twigs throughout the year. Their leaves drip sticky honeydew, which will rip off your car paint should you park your vehicle under the tree.

Unlike hard-wooded trees, tulip poplars can easily fall in storms. This becomes a significant problem when the tree grows over 80 feet tall. Since these trees require a lot of caution and maintenance, they’re not the best choice for a home’s yard.

Leyland Cypress Trees Are Easily Uprooted

Leyland cypresses line a road.
Twitter/@planpathva
Twitter/@planpathva

The Leyland cypress is a fast-growing, hassle-free tree. Many people like planting this tree to keep their yard private, but it quickly grows too large for most yards. Despite its size, Leyland cypresses are easily uprooted during storms and strong winds. In short, they’re a safety hazard when planted near houses.

Leyland cypresses are also susceptible to many different types of fungi. These can cause dying bark and root rot. Also, spiders and mites adore this tree. The bottom line is that Leyland cypresses are unsafe.

Bradford Pear Trees Have Stinky Flowers

Bradford pear tree sprouts white flowers.
Twitter/@moorejh
Twitter/@moorejh

After being imported to America, Bradford pear trees became incredibly popular. They often appear around homes built around the 1960s. But if you have one, beware. Like the cottonwood, Bradford pear trees are incredibly fragile due to their pyramid shape.

To make matters worse, Bradford pear’s beautiful white flowers stink. This tree grows to over 50 feet tall and almost as wide, so it engulfs your entire yard in a fish-smelling tent. Bradford pears will only make your yard worse, and they may damage your house if they become too weak.

Black Walnut Trees Produce Toxic Chemicals

A squirell enjoys black walnuts from a tree
Brian Brainerd/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Brian Brainerd/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Black walnut trees may be pretty, but they produce a toxic chemical that can eliminate your entire yard. This chemical, called juglone, can stunt the growth of grass and wilt certain vegetables. To keep your yard alive, you’d have to replace all plants with juglone-resistant vegetation like tall fescue grass.

If you remove fallen leaves and nuts, you can reduce the juglone problem. But that doesn’t stop black walnut trees from dropping carpets of leaves and seeds over your yard. Stay far away from this tree.

Mulberry Trees Make Birds Act Drunk

Person picks mulberry fruit off of a tree.
Andrew De La Rue/The AGE/Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Andrew De La Rue/The AGE/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

If you don’t want rotting fruit or pests, stay away from mulberries. Although these trees are sturdy and shady, they attract a range of hosts from silkworms to birds. Once the fruit ferments, it makes birds act tipsy. Expect some birds to fly straight into your kitchen window.

As mulberry fruit falls and rots, it attracts fruit flies that will wander into your home. Many mulberry trees, especially white mulberries, develop aggressive roots after a couple of years. These roots will crack the pavement and overrun landscaping.

Mimosa Trees Have A Lot Of Problems

A mimosa tree blooms pink flowers.
Reddit/u/bluish1997
Reddit/u/bluish1997

Mimosa trees are attractive, especially for insects. These trees draw webworms, moths that don’t harm your plants but also don’t look great. Expect caterpillars roaming around on this tree. On top of that, mimosa trees are prone to breakage, especially their branches.

Mimosa trees produce six-inch long seedpods that germinate very quickly. Even after the leaves have fallen, these seeds persist through the winter. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with an army of mimosa trees littering your yard. Stay safe, and don’t plant this tree near your home.

Magnolia Trees Attract Bugs

John Dukes passes by the blooms of the southern magnolia tree
Mark Wallheiser/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
Mark Wallheiser/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Many people love the magnolia’s wide, white flowers. If you plant one, you’ll have to keep a close eye on it. Magnolias attract a wide host of insects, including caterpillars, thrips, and aphids. Most won’t harm the tree, but aphids and thrips will cause the leaves to fall prematurely.

Speaking of leaves, deciduous magnolias shed their leaves year-round. So you’ll constantly have to rake your yard if you want to maintain this tree. Even if you plant an evergreen magnolia, the bugs will likely create piles of leaves. Don’t plant a magnolia unless you’re prepared to give it a lot of maintenance.

Silver Maples Destroy Your Pipes

Men watch as a silver maple tree has one of its leaders trimmed after it was damaged in Tropical Storm Irene.
Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Despite being one of the most common trees in North America, silver maples don’t help your yard. They’re easy to grow, but hard to kill–which you might want to do when the roots destroy your sidewalk. Silver maples have invasive roots infamous for clogging water lines and destroying landscapes.

Silver maples require an enormous amount of water and space, which can rapidly rob your garden of much-needed nutrients. The only cure to this problem is removing the tree, which is difficult and can only be done by a professional. Spare yourself from the trouble.

Red Oaks Make A Mess

Camera catches a close-up of red oak leaves.
DEA / C.SAPPA/De Agostini via Getty Images
DEA / S.MONTANARI/De Agostini via Getty Images

Northern red oaks appear elegant with their large and intricate leaves. Unfortunately, these leaves are the same source of this tree’s problems. Red oaks shed massive amounts of leaves throughout autumn and spring. Even their tiny flowers, catkins, fall in enormous numbers.

Red oaks are also susceptible to insects, bacteria, and fungi. They’re not as sturdy as they appear to be. If you’re willing to clean up after your trees frequently, you can manage a red oak. But if you don’t want the hassle, look for another tree.

Be Careful About Pecan Trees

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Edwin Remsberg / VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Edwin Remsberg / VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Pecans are delicious and having a pecan tree in your yard can be a real blessing. You can harvest the pecans each year and it might even save you some money. However, these trees are very difficult to maintain. They drop tons of twigs and leaves and branches whenever it gets the least bit windy outside.

The small leaves of the tree seem to fall by the dozen, making raking a constant chore. Just don’t plant one anywhere near your gutters or your driveway or anywhere you might want to park a car.

The Tree Of Heaven Isn’t So Heavenly

Close-up shows the leaves of the tree of heaven.
Andrea Innocenti/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Andrea Innocenti/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Since the tree of heaven was introduced to North America in the 1800s, it has threatened to overwhelm wildlife. This tree grows too quickly to contain, and it can easily consume other plants and concrete. It also produces an excessive amount of seeds that could endanger your garden.

To top it off, the tree of heaven produces a chemical that harms surrounding vegetation. Plants’ growth can be stunted or killed from one tree. Nature organizations are already struggling to contain this tree, so don’t add one to your yard.

Russian Olive Trees Suffocate Other Plants

Branches of a Russian olive tree stand out against the sky.
Twitter/@Massimoguerrera
Twitter/@Massimoguerrera

With its silvery leaves and cool-colored trunk, the Russian olive tree looks like a nice garden staple. But this tree quickly suffocates other plants. When birds eat their fruit, they spread the seeds across the garden, which slowly consumes the area. Russian olive roots don’t make the soil any more habitable.

Like all olive trees, the Russian olive is tough to kill. If you cut them down, they’ll resprout. It’s no wonder why Russian olives are considered an invasive species. Do your home a favor and keep this tree out of your yard.

The Roots Of Quaking Aspen Trees

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Wild Horizons/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Wild Horizons/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Quaking aspen trees have beautiful leaves that change to golden and yellow tones in the autumn and are the state tree of Utah. Although quaking aspen trees can be found all across North America, you don’t want these trees near your home.

What makes these trees so dangerous to your home and yard is their strong and fast-growing root system. These trees are known to quickly regrow and spread after wildfires. That same resiliency comes into play when its tree roots are getting into your plumbing.

The Lombardy Poplar Isn’t So Pretty

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DeAgostini/Getty Images
DeAgostini/Getty Images

If you want to keep your landscaping looking pristine, don’t select a Lombardy Poplar for your yard. You likely see these trees everywhere, as they’re a popular addition to yards across America, due to their elegant column shape and ability to grow around 6 feet in just one year.

Homeowners should know that Lombardy poplar trees are highly susceptible to being damaged by insects and tree diseases. This typically means they end up looking damaged and unhealthy, while remaining a large fixture in your yard.

Mountain Cedar Trees Spread Pollen

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PATRICK BAZ/AFP via Getty Images
PATRICK BAZ/AFP via Getty Images

Typically found in the south-central part of the U.S., mountain cedar trees are bushy trees that you don’t want to be anywhere near during the winter, especially if you’re prone to allergies.

In the late winter, these trees release heavy amounts of pollen at a wide range. Not only will it disturb your yard, but it’s likely to affect others on the block as well. You’re better off finding another bushy tree to plant.

Catalpa Trees Don’t Last That Long

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Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

While many of the trees on this list are tempting to plant due to their beautiful changing leaves in the fall, that’s not the case with catalpa trees. Many people are drawn to these trees for their beautiful flowers, that appear similar to orchids.

But when the leaves of this tree start to die, they don’t change to a beautiful color. Instead, they’re blackened by frost before falling on the ground and covering the yard. These trees will only bloom for a few months between spring and early summer, but require a lot of clean up.

Redwood Trees Can Destroy Your Home

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Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

If you’re lucky enough to live in a climate that allows redwood trees to thrive, it might be tempting to add one of these gorgeous plants to your yard. However, there are several downfalls to having one of these trees around.

Not only are they extremely messy, but redwood trees’ strong roots can damage sidewalks and even the foundation of your home. After a storm, your yard will be littered with redwood needles. They also block a decent amount of sun, which could take light away from your other plants.

Bottlebrush Trees Drop Their Leaves

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Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images
Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images

Although their spikes of flowers are beautiful, they’re also a major reason not to plant a bottlebrush tree in your yard. The soft, needle-like leaves that constantly fall from the tree are difficult to clean up.

These trees can grow up to 15 feet, which can lead to a lot of clean-up in its mature years. You’re better off selecting a shrub with leaves you can easily rake, or you’ll spend every weekend in the yard!

Linden Trees Produce A Lot Of Sap

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Alexander ShcherbakTASS via Getty Images
Alexander ShcherbakTASS via Getty Images

Another tree that produces a sticky mess is the linden tree. These trees seem to be sap-making machines, as they are constantly secreting sap.

Keep linden trees far away from your driveway and street, as the sap will be awfully hard to clean off your car, and will likely damage the paint if you don’t clean it off. It’s one thing to be cleaning up leaves, but sap is an entirely different beast.

American Elm Trees Have Invasive Roots

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DeAgostini/Getty Images
DeAgostini/Getty Images

American elm trees are another tree that you don’t want to plant near your home, and might consider an inspection or removal if you already have one in place. These trees have extremely invasive root systems that can threaten sewer lines and drain pipes.

One place you’ll see a ton of these trees is Central Park in New York City. The park is home to around 1,200 American elm trees!

Chinese Tallow Trees Are Invasive

tallow-tree
Talko / Wikimedia Commons
Talko / Wikimedia Commons

Chinese tallows, otherwise known as “popcorn” trees because of their distinctive flowers, are appealing to people because of their attractive bright coloring and the fact that their broad leaves provide great shade.

Don’t be fooled into planting one of them in your yard, however! They’re commonly ranked among the most invasive tree species and they can grow to enormous sizes. You can expect a Chinese tallow tree to reach up to 30 feet in width and 40 feet in height — that’s not a root system most people will want in their yard.

Norway Maples Produce A Lot Of Shade

Ecological Collapse of Toronto Ravines
Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Another gorgeous tree that can end up causing homeowners problems down the road is the Norweigan maple. This specimen has a shallow, fibrous root system. That, combined with the fact that they provide tons of shade, meaning that it’s pretty much impossible ever to grow grass underneath one.

Also, this is a non-native tree with aggressive roots that can quickly displace native trees and shrubs. The roots also release a toxin that can be harmful to other plants.

Empress Trees Can Cause Damage

Empress tree specimens (Paulownia tomentosa)...
DeAgostini/Getty Images
DeAgostini/Getty Images

This tree, also known as a Royal Empress Tree, has an impressive name but people shouldn’t let this fool them. Empress trees have fragrant flowers and they typically remain at a reasonable size (about 30 feet tall as a maximum height). There’s where the benefits end.

These trees are very weak and tend to break in storms, creating a huge risk for nearby structures or cars. If you live somewhere that’s prone to big storms, this is probably a tree to skip.

White Birches Are Unstable

Birch Trees Copse in France
Tim Graham / Contributor
Tim Graham / Contributor

There are many different types of birch trees and they’re quite popular among homeowners as a backyard feature, but some varieties of birches are more appealing than others. The white birch, in particular, is one that a lot of homeowners might be advised to steer clear of.

For one thing, white birches do not do well in dry, hot climates. And they’re also highly susceptible to bronze birch borers, which are beetles that kill birch trees. A third problem with white birches is that they have shallow roots, making them unstable and a threat to your home.

The Callery Pear Isn’t Calm In A Storm

Arbor Day
Keith Getter / Contributor
Keith Getter / Contributor

The Callery pear tree, scientific name Pyrus calleryana, is considered beautiful by many because it has bright red leaves in the fall and eye-catching white blooms in the springtime.

However, just as with every other tree on this list, this species is also one to think twice about planting. The Callery pear has an inherently weak branching structure which can cause a lot of damage, especially in regions with snow, ice, or heavy winds.

Siberian Elms Are Aggressive

siberian-elm
Tiarescott / Wikimedia Commons
Tiarescott / Wikimedia Commons

The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, classifies the Siberian elm as “not recommended” and states that these trees “have invasive traits that enable them to spread aggressively.” As we know, that’s not usually something to look for when selecting trees for landscaping a yard.

In addition, Siberian elms are “highly susceptible to ice damage” and have a weak wood and branch structure. All of these qualities together mean that homeowners need to think twice about planting this particular species.

Black Locusts Are Only Good For Firewood

Black Locust or False Acacia...
DeAgostini/Getty Images
DeAgostini/Getty Images

Black Locust, also known by the scientific name Robinia psuedoacacia, is a fast-growing hardwood tree that grows lovely and fragrant white flowers. The heavy wood is prized as firewood so some people plant black locusts for this reason.

However, these trees are brittle and have sharp thorns. Additionally, they seed themselves quite generously so are considered an invasive pest by many people. Unless you need a lot of firewood handy, it might be best to steer clear of this one.

Bois D’Arc Trees Have Many Thorns

Osage-orange...
DeAgostini/Getty Images
DeAgostini/Getty Images

Maclura pomifera, otherwise known as Bois d’arc or Osage orange, has a valuable wood that has long been used in bow-making by Native Americans. They have lots of beneficial traits including the fact that they’re easy to grow.

Many people enjoy this tree, but it does have a downside to consider before planting in your yard. The Bois d’arc tends to be very thorny and produces a fruit that’s not edible and might end up littering the lawn. Overall, though, this is far from the worst tree on our list!