Wherein I Want To Be 100% Wrong

I want to be 100% wrong, I want to be totally mistaken. 

Have a look at the most beautiful Quercus agrifolia in the neighborhood:


It belongs to a house that was sold a few years ago.  The new owners did a beautiful job of updating the house.  No--not a beautiful job, a superb job.  A really first-class job.  Then they redid the landscaping.  They had an arborist lightly thin out the oak, taking out only a few branches and one in particular that was just about to hit the power lines.  They didn't chop down a one hundred year old native treasure so they could plant a bunch of $15 Queen palms from Home Depot.  Wonderful, I thought.  They appreciate this glorious tree and want to preserve its health and beauty.

Then they planted Marathon III Fescue and a bunch of roses right under the oak.  And added a sprinkler system. 


Oh dear G-d. 

Please let it be that everything I have read about mature Quercus agrifolia is wrong.  Please that I am wrong, and that planting a lawn and a bunch of roses under an established native oak that formerly got no irrigation will not please not kill this tree, which may be 100 years old.  Please let me be 100% wrong.  It's at the top of the hill where drainage is superb.  But oh Lordy Lord that grass is green and obviously well watered...
I want to be 100% wrong.  I'm wrong a lot.  I'm wrong on a daily basis.  I screw up a lot.  Let this be one of the occasions.  Let me be wrong, not them.

I'm not even going to get started on how they wrapped the trunk with Christmas lights.


  1. Oh Dear. I hope a 'professional' landscape firm didn't do that. Boo.

  2. I hope you're wrong! I always cringe when seeing people do unspeakable things to trees and it happens so often!

  3. That oak's root system probably extends far beyond the canopy, and down into any bedrock, so some lawn near the trunk is probably not going to affect it. But if the lawn is larger than it looks, including high water-use plants with irrigation lines trenched through the roots, that might be a big negative. If the driveway was added over those roots, it might pose a problem, too. I think root disturbance is more the problem, tho incompatible companion plants w/ a drinking problem next!

    I've seen a few native oaks here in foothills areas with fescue lawns underplanted, w/ no harm. In drought years, the extra irrigation around the root zone is probably a plus.

    The understory would look much nicer without the lawn and fussy planting layout - a mass of xeric deergrass, etc asthetically and culturally much better.

  4. ks, that was indeed a "professional". Perhaps they tried but just couldn't talk them out of a lawn.

    Michelle, thanks, I cringe too.

    Desert, I hope you are right and that it will survive in the long run. I agree the plantings don't measure up to the the aesthetics of the house. Oddly, on the slope beyond that iron fence they planted Agaves, Sedums, and Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum', which look much more appropriate.

  5. Why not just contact the homeowner and give him a heads-up....you might even be thanked ! Obviously the neighbor values the tree as evidenced by the serious money he spent having it pruned. I, too, watch this property and wonder what they will 'do' next. good luck and report back :)


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