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Facts and Tips When Planting Trees Near a Patio in Southern California

Planting trees near a patio can have a number of benefits that will enhance your outdoor living area. Among them, the provision of shade and privacy are two main reasons that you might be considering planting patio trees. A beautiful tree also enhances aesthetics and can be an attractive addition to your space. Trees add property value and can provide you enjoyment for a lifetime.

Still, despite the many benefits, there are some important things to consider before planting trees around a patio. Choosing the wrong tree can cause a lot of unwanted headaches, including the worst case scenario of having to tear up your patio because of tree roots growing underneath. We will explore root growth as well as some other challenges and considerations to keep in mind.

Challenges of Planting Patio Trees

While there are many reasons to consider planting trees near or around a patio, there are some challenges that you must also be careful to avoid. There are consequences that occur from the wrong selection. Here are several potential challenges to consider.


  • Tree Roots Damaging Patio:  If planted too close, many species run the risk of tree roots growing under the patio and potentially lifting and damaging pavers. A general rule of thumb is to leave at least between 3 and 6 feet between your trees and pavers. But larger trees with invasive root systems may need to be planted as far as 20 feet back to be safe.
  • Messy Trees:  Trees that shed flowers, fruit, or other debris can leave more than a messy eyesore on your patio. Some flowers and fruit even stain. And certain trees, such as the Gingko tree, produce fruit with an unpleasant odor which isn’t very appealing to be around. Depending on the species, some trees are messy for just brief periods while others are for much longer.
  • Too Much Shade:  While shade tends to be one of the primary benefits of planting trees near a patio, you may not want your entire outdoor space shaded. Too much shade can lead to moss growth or patio border plants not getting the light they require. Or you may just prefer a patio that gets some warm sun. As a matter of personal preference you must consider exactly where your trees may cast shade and whether you want some sun to shine through.

A Few Ideas

client meeting brainstorming some patio edging ideasSelecting the best tree for the best location is important in preventing some of the challenges that can arise when planting patio trees. While there is a wide variety of trees to choose from in Southern California, here are several trees that you might consider as a good fit for your space, depending upon your needs. An expert landscape designer can help guide you to the perfect tree that will fit your space.

Here are a few suggestions. You can also easily find more images online to see more of the plant’s features.

Incense Cedar

This tall evergreen tree provides a lot of dense shade and has a beautiful pyramid type of shape.

incense cedar as patio edging ideas

It’s thick green foliage can provide an appealing backdrop while also blocking out the sun.

Magnolia Grandiflora

The Magnolia Grandiflora is a beautiful shade tree with beautiful white blooms that are very large and fragrant.

magnolia grandiflora as patio edging ideas

But because of its grandeur in size as well as its shedding flowers, this shade tree should not be planted too close to the patio. You might consider its smaller variety, the St. Mary Magnolia, which may be more manageable.

California White Oak

Commonly referred to as the “Valley Oak,” the California White Oak is one of the largest of the species in North America, making it an excellent choice for shade.

california white oak as patio edging ideas

It’s large canopy blocks sunlight while also adding visual interest to your outdoor living space.

Planting Trees

When it comes to the actual installation proper planting, location, and site logistics are all points that should come into play.

Proper Planting Practices

When planting trees around a patio, having them installed the right way can make all the difference not only in whether they may pose a problem, but also ensuring they survive and thrive.

gall landscape as patio edging ideas for your patio

Trees that are not planted properly could manifest symptoms and suddenly die 10 to 15 years later, due to installation mistakes. Everything from the size of the hole to the actual installation practices of the tree can play a role in whether the tree gets off to a good start. And a good start means everything.


Location is also an important consideration. The reasons you may be planting trees near your patio must also be considered alongside the site itself in order to maximize the benefit without creating challenges. For example, you want the tree in the proper place to block shade (if that was your primary goal) but you also don’t want it too close that its tree roots damage your patio. It can be a challenging equation that is truly best suited for a professional who also understands the tree’s full potential. A common DIY mistake is failing to recognize just how big a certain tree species will get.

Site Logistics

Once you have your location selected, understanding the site logistics, such as soil condition or obstacles to work around, comes into play. In a perfect world, the site would be easy to access and the job would be simple. But most backyards are more complicated than that. While a lot of homeowners try to tackle tree planting projects on their own, you may wind up paying more in repairs or needing to start all over again if it wasn’t done properly. Planting trees in a patio area can be a complicated, multi-faceted venture that may be best-suited for a professional. WIthout access to the proper equipment, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get the job done easily. Oftentimes a tree installation requires a crew of several workers depending upon the tree’s weight and what’s involved in site preparation. It often ends up being much more than involved than you’d imagine.   

Coordinating Patio and Tree Installation

crew working with patio edging ideas from the designerOne of the great benefits of using a company that serves as a one-stop-shop for all your  landscape design needs is that they can coordinate all aspects of the project. If you use a separate company for planting patio trees from the one that installs your patio, it can get very confusing as these companies may not communicate well or at all.

It’s also important to note that while many companies have jumped into doing hardscape, oftentimes they don’t have an in-house designer. There is tremendous value in finding a design/build company that can handle all aspects of your project from start to finish.

Pacific Paving Stone is part of the larger organization, Pacific Outdoor Living, which is absolutely a one-stop-shop who can meet all your needs in-house. A company that installs both plants and patios and has in-house designers and installation crews means your project won’t have to keep changing hands. Having all that expertise under one roof means they can tackle your project from beginning to end.

Planting trees in your patio area, is just one of the many considerations in a great patio design. If you’re considering installing a patio or adding some trees around an existing outdoor living area, let us know how we can help. We can provide a free estimate or answer any questions you may have at (818) 275-8613.



Image Sources:  incense cedar, magnolia grandiflora, california white oak