Weeping willow is one of 4 trees that are more trouble than they're worth

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, there are plants out there that anyone can grow. Plants like mint, basil, hostas, and evergreens are gorgeous, require little upkeep, and are difficult to kill.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are trees that even many horticulturalists don’t grow because they are just way too much trouble. Let’s take a look at those so you don’t accidentally buy one. If someone with a PhD can’t grow the thing, you probably won’t have too much luck either!

How to Pick the Right Trees for Your Yard

  1. Check out your local extension service. California – and every state – has an extension office that serves as a resource for people looking to plant. They help with research and manage plants in public areas, so they’re very well versed on which plants thrive locally. They’ll also know which trees to avoid in your area. You can find California’s extension service here.
  2. Check the invasive species list. Your local extension will also manage an invasive species list, which is worth reading. You don’t want to be responsible for introducing an invasive plant into your environment. Bamboo is a great example of an invasive species that quickly spreads and chokes out local wildlife.
  3. Want to go for it anyway? If you want to go for a tough growing tree anyway, go for it! Just ensure you give it all the attention you can and follow the growing instructions.


A very beautiful tree with autumnal coloring all year round, the Cottonwood grows to be nearly 55 feet tall and can have a trunk nearly 5 feet thick. It supports all of that, however, with very brittle, susceptible wood. Imagine, if you will, a very large, brittle tree hanging over your roof, and you can quickly see the drawbacks.

Mulberry Tree

The Mulberry Tree produces large, thick leaves that are wonderful for producing shade. It doesn’t get terribly tall, but does grow quite wide, making it a good choice for an open field far away from your home.

Unsurprisingly, Mulberry Trees also produces the mulberry. While you may not enjoy its taste, deer, birds and all kinds of bugs do. If planted near your home, by spring you may have more new guests than you bargained for.

Lastly, the mulberry tree also produces measurable quantities of pollen. If anyone in your household has allergies, you might want to check out a few hypoallergenic plants instead.

Chinese Tallow

Chinese Tallow is a highly invasive species. In fact, it is one of the most invasive species of tree in the U.S.

Think about this: the crown of the tree can grow to be 30 feet wide and it can be upward of 40 feet tall. The root system of this tree is simply massive and will choke out anything else around it. It can even invade your sewer line, causing massive damage to your property.

The Weeping Willow

Weeping willows are gorgeous trees, but they do have some serious drawbacks. The Weeping Willow can grow to be upward of 100 feet tall and at its mature height will suck moisture out of the soil for nearly 250 feet around it. This can be good if you’re attempting to dry out a particularly wet area, but most other plants won’t tolerate it.

A mature weeping willow can also require a lot of upkeep, since its leaves and smaller branches can grow faster than its central branches can handle. Without regular trimming, even a light storm can quickly snap off branches.