The 17 Worst Trees to Put in Your Back Garden

There’s no doubt trees are great to include in your garden for a landscaping project. Sadly, while some come in beautiful colors, give shade from the sun, and protect your property against heavy wind, certain others only come as maintenance nightmares. Avoid putting these 17 trees in your backyard garden.

Weeping Willows

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The weeping willow has extremely rebellious roots. On one hand, they absorb a lot of water, leaving the soil dry and causing you a lot of trouble trying to keep other plants alive. They’re also known to destroy underground features in your home, particularly clogging underground pipes.

Red Oak

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If you aren’t a fan of raking leaves throughout the whole of autumn, it’s best to avoid red oaks. Falling acorns from these North American native trees can put a dent in your property, and you also have a large volume of allergy-triggering catkins to worry about.

Norway Spruce

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The Norway spruce is a unique and beautiful tree. But with this beauty comes a lot of trouble. Not only do they reseed and become invasive problems in your garden, but they’re also susceptible to diseases and pest infestations. The Spruce also shares that they are prone to easy damage in heavy weather conditions due to their shallow roots.

Ash Trees

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For the black, white, and green ashes, although they live for an average of 400 years, you may have to deal with steadily declining tree health that can’t be controlled. They’re trees that also attract pests to your home and can cause eye sores in your garden when they eventually lose all their canopy and die out.

Female Ginkgo Bilobas

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One of the most beautiful, dynamic trees to include in your garden is the ginkgo biloba—an East Asian native with leaves that turn yellow in autumn. Males are common features in ornamental landscaping. The problem with the female ginkgo biloba is that they bear fruits and seeds that emit a rather foul smell that you definitely wouldn’t like.

Siberian Elm

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With the Siberian elm, you’ll have a tree with weak roots that are likely to get damaged during heavy snow or windy conditions. That’s not all, though. The US Forest Service shares that these trees are also competitive, meaning they could kill off other desirable plants in your garden—especially plants that can’t survive in shade.

Paper Birch

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Unless you can guarantee a lot of irrigation to keep them alive, paper birches are highly susceptible to thirst in your garden. They’re native to areas close to rivers, making their root systems shallow and unable to survive during extended periods of dry weather.

Bradford Pear

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The Bradford pear is a non-native tree species that poses an invasive threat to local ecosystems. They’re so invasive that South Carolina and Pennsylvania have enacted bans on them to be active this year, 2024, according to USA Today. Bradford pears are also structurally weak and emit a bad, rotting smell when blooming.

Leyland Cypress

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The Leyland Cypress will give you privacy if that’s what you want. But you should know that this privacy may be short-lived. Leyland cypresses are barely resistant to diseases and pests, among other stressors that could kill them. They may also become dominant in your garden, harming other plants.

Mimosa Trees

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As Southern Living shares, “their leaf litter creates nitrogen that changes the nutrients in the soil, which can be beneficial to some plants but harmful to native species as well as the animals who feed on them.” Mimosas may starve your other desirable plants of food from the sun and nutrients from the soil.


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Both fruitful and fruitless mulberry trees come with problems of their own. The fruitful mulberries shed fruits that could make your garden messy (but at least you get sweet treats from them). The fruitless mulberries, on the other hand, only come with trouble. They suck a lot of water from the soil and could destroy utility pipes, sidewalks, and your landscaping features.

Silver Maple

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The silver maple gives you a special problem to worry about. It’s a tree with a root system that stays at the surface, making activities like mowing the yard or cleaning up your garden problematic. They also pose threats to sidewalks when they spread out.


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When it comes to the eucalyptus, you have to worry about competition for water and nutrients in the soil. There are also debates around whether the chemicals it releases into the soil harm smaller plants around them. Nonetheless, there’s one sure thing—the University of Washington’s Elizabeth Miller library says that they’re highly flammable, making them hazards to residential areas.


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Cottonwood comes with a brittle structure that makes it prone to damage during heavy weather conditions. Alongside the threat it poses to pavements and water lines, it’s also weak against diseases and pest infestations, which could make it short-lived in your garden.

Honey Locust

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Planting the honey locust in your garden means introducing a nuisance you’ll find hard to contain. It’s an invasive plant that’s easy to mismanage, and when you grow it in sunny areas, you’re likely to lose it (and your garden) to plant bugs, spider mites, and webworms.

Chinese Tallow

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Chinese tallows are just as destructive as they are attractive. Daniel Leonard claims in a publication for the University of Florida that it is an “insidious invader that has no place in either landscapes or natural areas.” It has sap that’s poisonous to animals and irritating to your skin.

Quaking Aspen

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Aspens get particularly attractive during the winter, but they can quickly become a headache to deal with. Quaking aspens are known to spread rapidly, and we recommend not planting them in small spaces close to your home or other important structures.

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