Do Your Research Before Planting One Of These Trees That Might Ruin Your Yard

At some point in every gardener’s life, they have to consider which trees they wish to keep or plant in their yard. Certainly, the right tree can transform a landscape into a piece of art. But the wrong tree can uproot a yard and crush sidewalks.

After reading about these trees, you may not want them near your home. Planting or keeping just one of them could potentially have damaging effects on your property, including containing toxins that harm surrounding plants and animals.

Eastern Cottonwood Are Very Fragile

Aspen and cottonwood trees line the June Lake Loop
George Rose/Getty Images
George Rose/Getty Images

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 Spread Like Wildfire

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 Yard

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. One tree can destroy your home’s entire habitat.

Never Sit Beneath A Tulip Poplar

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 Are A Safety Hazard

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 Tree Flowers Stink

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 Are Toxic

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 Mess With Birds

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 Are Bad In So Many Ways

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.

Sweetgum Trees Have 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

Although sweetgum offers lovely autumn leaves, many people despise its seeds. Once you have a sweetgum tree, you’ll never walk barefoot in your yard again. These seedpods have tough, spiny exteriors that make them difficult to remove from grass and other plants. They also attract a large host of birds to your yard.

Sweetgum trees also have invasive root systems. They threaten your home’s foundation, patio, garden, and driveway. Although sweet gum trees used to be popular around the 1940s, their high-maintenance has deterred many people from them. It’s easy to see why.

Magnolia Trees Host Too Many 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.

Certain Ginkgo Trees Are Worse Than Others

A man takes photos under ginkgo trees during autumn in Beijing, China.
Visual China Group via Getty Images
Visual China Group via Getty Images

Ginkgo trees can brighten a yard with their wide yellow leaves that fall during autumn. But if you get one, don’t plant a female ginkgo biloba. These trees drop smelly fruit that quickly pollutes your garden, driveway, or patio. Cleaning it up will consume all of your gardening time.

Fortunately, this doesn’t happen with male ginkgo trees. Stick to selections like “Fairmount,” “Autumn Gold,” and “Saratoga” to guarantee that there’s no fruit. If you don’t do your research beforehand, your yard will be cursed with fruit for the next 3,000 years (yes, ginkgos live that long).

Weeping Willows Will Make You Cry

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 wide, droopy trees with their leaves brushing the ground. But its leaves are not the problem; its roots are. Willow roots are strong and aggressive, and they’ve been known to damage pavement and water lines. Plus, the roots absorb all the soil’s water.

Despite their stubborn roots, willow trunks and branches are susceptible to bugs. Since willow trees grow between 50 to 60 feet wide, so these bugs can easily leech from your other plants. The willow adds more problems than benefits to a yard.

Silver Maples Destroy 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.

You’ll Have To Clean Up After Red Oaks

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.

The Tree Of Heaven Isn’t As Pleasant As Its Name

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.

Birch Trees Are Yard Hogs

People walk around birch trees in a park in St Petersburg.
Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images
Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images

Birch trees are shady and elegant, but once you plant them, nothing will grow near that tree. Birches have shallow roots that make the soil as hard as concrete. They tend to consume their surrounding space, and even if you chop the roots, they’ll grow back stronger.

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. Unless you want a yard full of only birch trees, keep these out of your yard.

Sycamores Only Create A Mess

Spiky seeds hang from an old world sycamore.
Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If you want a mess-free yard, stay away from sycamores. 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. Throughout the year, your yard, roof, and rain gutters will be clogged with leaves and seeds.

In the summer, sycamore trees often turn white. The culprits are lace bugs, which have a habit of falling on people and cars. Not only do sycamores look ugly for part of the year, but they also cover your yard in debris.

Ash Trees Are Constantly In Danger

Ash trees are planted on a hill.
Prisma by Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Prisma by Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

On the surface, ash trees seem like a good deal: they’re resilient, fast-growing, and sport a beautiful color. However, ash trees are threatened 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. If you plant an ash tree, you’ll likely have to replace it every couple of years. You don’t want to risk a large tree falling, do you?

Russian Olive Trees Are Leeches

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 Take Over

GettyImages-146142967
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 Can Be An Eyesore

GettyImages-154711725
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 Are Pollen Bombs

GettyImages-503601296
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.

Eastern White Pines Are Messy

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

Eastern white pines will constantly leave a sticky mess in your yard. A deciduous tree, Eastern white pines are one of the worst of its kind, as its sap, known as “pitch” is incredibly sticky.

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. you’ll end up avoiding that area of the yard forever!

Honey Locust Trees Require A Lot Of Raking

GettyImages-504674507
DeAgostini/Getty Images
DeAgostini/Getty Images

Honey locust trees could add some beautiful color to your lawn, but make sure you get the pod-less kind! 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.

Next time you see these trees lining a tree or throughout a park, look below to see if they are dropping seed pods, or if they’re pod-less.

Catalpa Trees Are Only Beautiful For A Short While

GettyImages-89834740
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.

Even Pecan Lovers Don’t Want Pecan Trees

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

Even if you absolutely adore pecans, do you really want a pecan tree in your yard? More than likely, the answer is no. Similar to other messy trees on this list, pecan trees are brittle and will drop large branches in the wind and smaller twigs year-round.

The small leaves of the tree seem to fall by the dozen, making raking a constant chore. You definitely don’t want to have one of these leaves around your car in a storm.

Redwood Trees May Threaten Your Home’s Foundation

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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 Are Difficult To Pick Up After

GettyImages-1138475370
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 Are Sap Machines

GettyImages-619207884
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 Root Systems

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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!

Don’t Be Fooled Into Planting A Chinese Tallow

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.

A Norway Maple Can Kill Neighboring Trees

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.

An Empress Tree Can Cause Damage In Storms

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 Can Cause Storm Damage

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 Fast-Growing And 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.

Staghorn Sumac Trees Can Cause Allergic Reactions

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

One look at this stunning red-hued specimen and it’s easy to see why people might be attracted to the Staghorn sumac. But the deciduous shrub, which can reach 15-30 feet in height, is related to poison ivy — meaning it can cause some unpleasant skin reactions in some people.

If you’re wanting to add some bright, bold colors to your yard, there are lots of different options to choose from.

Black Locusts Are Good For Firewood, But Can Be Too Aggressive For Many Yards

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 Are Thorny

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!