In most areas of Australia shady trees are popular due to our warm climate.
Our parks and streets are full of beautiful Jacaranda, Poinciana and Leopard trees but as lovely as they are, these trees are too large for suburban gardens. Their root systems are also substantial which can cause costly damage to buildings, foundations and plumbing.
Here are 10 other trees to avoid planting:
- Eucalyptus Tree (Eucalyptus sp.): There are many different types of gum tree and some can grow to a substantial height, with associated spread in their root systems. Many are prone to dropping weakened branches in storms which can cause considerable damage to buildings, structures and fences.
- Fig Trees (Ficus sp.): Many people have fig trees as pot plants and are tempted to plant them out in the garden when they outgrow their containers. What people don’t realise is that they can grow up to 30 metres tall and wide, and their root systems are incredibly invasive. Avoid planting them at all costs!
- Running Bamboo (Bambuseae sp.): A popular screening plant, clumping Bamboo can be a practical plant in small spaces. However, never plant running Bamboo as it will invade the garden and can be nearly impossible to remove.
- African Tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata): A large tree with orange/red flowers and seed pods that split open to release papery seeds. It is toxic to bees and other insects. This tree reproduces in three ways: from wind-dispersed seeds, via root suckers if roots have been damaged, and from dumped garden waste.
- Tipuana Tree (Tipuana tipu): Another large tree (20m x 30m) with an aggressive root system that can wreak havoc on underground plumbing, foundations and structures. It is an environmental weed in some areas (eg south-east Queensland) and should not be planted.
- Illawarra Flame Tree (Brachychiton acerfolius): This attractive tree is native to eastern coastal areas of Australia and can grow up to 40 metres in height. The seed pods contain hairs that can be inhaled and that irritate on contact with skin. These trees also drop a clear jelly-like substance that is very slippery.
- Liquidambar Tree (Liquidambar styraciflua): While popular due their attractive coloured leaves in autumn, they are not suitable for suburbia. Their Invasive roots can damage pipes, paving and structures while the copious fallen leaves and seed heads pose a safety risk.
- Golden Robinia (Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’): This tree has thorns and can grow up to 20 metres tall. It suckers prolifically if its roots are damaged and will spread like wildflowers under the soil, appearing several houses away from original tree.
- Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola): A native tree with a destructive root system that causes costly damage to nearby foundations and buildings.
- Cocos Palm (Syragrus romanzoffiana): This palm tree is an environmental weed in Queensland as it reproduces via a thick carpet of seedlings. The leaves can be 5 metres in length and the green fruit is toxic to flying foxes.
It pays to do some homework before planting trees to avoid expensive mistakes down the track. While we are all grateful for the shade of a tree on a hot summer day, the reality is many varieties just aren’t appropriate for suburbia.