Big, fast-growing, and a dandy shade tree, silver maple is widespread in eastern states and the Midwest. Unfortunately, the speed at which the tree grows makes for weak, brittle wood that may break during severe storms. The shallow root system invades sewage pipes and drain fields, and is notorious for cracking driveways and walkways.
11 Trees You Should Never Plant in Your Yard2. Ash (Fraxinus)
Sturdy and tough, the many varieties of ash that populate North America are some of our most beloved trees. Professional baseball bats are made from its wood — how American is that? But the venerable ash is threatened by the emerald ash borer, a tiny beetle that’s on track to wipe out the species. If you’re looking for a long-term tree for your yard, look elsewhere.
11 Trees You Should Never Plant in Your Yard3. Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)
The aspen is found in northern climes and higher elevations. Its white bark and gently vibrating leaves are attractive, but its root system is insidious, sending up dozens of suckers that relentlessly try to turn into new trees. Once established, it’s war. In fact, the largest living organism in the world is a Colorado aspen root system called Pando. It weighs 6,600 tons and is thought to be 80,000 years old. Try digging that out!
Image: David Wilson
11 Trees You Should Never Plant in Your Yard4. Lombardy Poplar (P. nigra 'Italica’)
The Lombardy poplar was once a favorite landscaping tree known for its speedy growth (up to 6 feet a year) and distinctive columnar shape. However, they’re prone to a number of diseases and bugs that turn them into raggedy eyesores, and their running roots are invasive and difficult to eradicate.
Image: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Laurentian Forestry Centre
11 Trees You Should Never Plant in Your Yard5. Willow (Salix)
With its long, slender branches that hang down like Rapunzel’s tresses, the willow is one of the most recognizable of all trees. Beautiful on the outside, yes, but the willow has an aggressive, water-hungry root system that terrorizes drain fields, sewer lines, and irrigation pipes. The wood is weak and prone to cracking, and the tree is relatively short-lived, lasting only about 30 years.
11 Trees You Should Never Plant in Your Yard6. Eucalyptus
Imported from Australia and popularized for their speedy growth — some varieties will shoot up 10 feet in a year — the eucalyptus has a bad rap for suddenly and unexpectedly dropping big, heavy, resin-filled branches. In some areas of Australia, campers are warned not to pitch tents under eucalyptus trees. Its showy bark peels off annually and adds to seasonal maintenance chores.
Image: Isolino Ferriera and zulufriend/iStockphoto
11 Trees You Should Never Plant in Your Yard7. Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana)
The Bradford pear was imported to the U.S. from China in the early 1900s as replacement for orchard trees that were dying. With its compact shape and profusion of spring blossoms, the Bradford pear became a suburban favorite — until folks realized that it was highly prone to splitting and cracking when it reached maturity. And those blossoms? They’re on the stinky side of the fragrance scale.
11 Trees You Should Never Plant in Your Yard8. Mountain cedar (Juniperus ashei)
Stay away from the mountain cedar in late winter. This bushy tree, native to the south central U.S., releases massive amounts of pollen during the cooler months, causing severe allergic reactions in many people. Even if you don’t have allergies, planting one in your yard may affect your neighbors.
11 Trees You Should Never Plant in Your Yard9. Mulberry (Morus)
Big surface roots, lots of pollen, messy fruit, and shade so dense that grass refuses to grow underneath. What’s to like about the mulberry? If you’re a silkworm, the answer is: plenty! The mulberry is the silkworm’s only source of food. Silkworm farmers should plant away! Otherwise, you’ll be happier with a different kind of tree in your yard.
Image: Remodeling This Life
11 Trees You Should Never Plant in Your Yard10. Black walnut (Juglans nigra)
Native to North America, this well-known shade tree produces prized cabinet- and furniture-making wood. It also produces pollen and plenty of fruit that’ll drive you, well, nuts when you have to clean it all up in the fall. It’s true sinister side, however, is that it secretes growth-inhibiting toxins that kill nearby plants, wreaking havoc on flower beds and vegetable gardens.
11 Trees You Should Never Plant in Your Yard11. Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii)
These fast-growing evergreen trees are favored for their ability to quickly create a living privacy screen. However, they require constant upkeep and trimming to keep them healthy, and as they get taller they’re increasingly likely to uproot during storms. The center of the tree forms a mass of dried twigs and branches that are considered such a fire hazard that many communities officially caution residents against planting them.