Throughout Los Angeles, many of the trees that shade our streets and absorb carbon are nearing the end of their lifespans. Urban trees can often have shorter than usual lifespans, and in Southern California, many are succumbing to disease after years of drought. As an example, all of the beautiful mature camphor trees on the street where our office is located are in decline.

The good news is that young, vigorously-growing trees are great at absorbing carbon. And once mature, their canopies will also help mitigate the urban heat island effect and provide a host of other benefits.

Over the past few years, as a studio, we’ve been incorporating more trees than ever into our designs. While we and our clients once primarily valued sunny open spaces in the garden as prime spots for the many perennials and shrubs that thrive in full sun, we now plan for more trees and with as much variety in terms of species and size as we can.

Trees we love

Here are a few tough, attractive low- to moderate-water trees we love:

Small to Medium

Acacia (Baileyana, Stenophylla, many more)

Agonis flexuous ‘Burgundy’

Arbutus unedo

Cercis occidentalis

Chilopsis linearis

Palo verde ‘Desert Museum’

Medium to Large

Ceiba speciosa

Geijera parviflora

Quercus agrifolia

Pistacia x ‘Red Push’

Prosopis glandulosa ‘Maverick’

Ginkgo biloba (moderate water)

Want to learn more?

On tree planting and climate change:

On selecting the right tree for your garden:

On trees designers love:

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