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What is a Patio Tree?

By Josie Myers
Updated May 16, 2024
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A patio tree is a tree that provides artistic interest and utilitarian shade over a patio area. Patio trees are rooted in the ground, not in a pot or bucket. They can be placed next to a patio or can be set within the patio itself. It is common to see brick patios with sections of brick removed to inset a tree.

When considering a patio tree, home owners should be very careful with the decision. This tree will have more permanence than most home decor. There are a few matters that should be weighed, some practical and others a matter of personal taste.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider in choosing a patio tree is the root structure. Surface roots can literally rip apart pavement and patios as they grow. Loosely rooted trees, like many evergreens, are more likely to tip over in the case of flooding. This tipping can tear out portions of the patio. To best protect the patio area, choose roots that bury deep and strong.

Small trees with limited growth are generally the best choice. Many home owners choose dwarf trees that grow a maximum of 10 feet (3 meters) or so. For larger patio areas, 25 foot (7.6 meter) trees are acceptable. The key is to find a tree that will grow large enough to provide adequate shade for the area without towering above it and overtaking the area.

From an artistic standpoint, the color and shape of leaves or flowers of a patio tree is important. Trees that flower with neutral colors like white can adapt to any garden. Those with bright and hot colors showcase the patio area. Twisted trunks and interesting shapes add architectural elements to the area. It is best to avoid trees that will make a constant mess on the patio area. Those with dropping fruit not only will make a sticky mess, but also attract bugs to the area, which are not welcome guests at a summer barbecue.

The type of patio tree chosen also greatly depends on the region where the home is located. Stick with local trees that will withstand the climate of the area. Some of the most popular patio trees are Crape Myrtle, Flowering Dogwood, Japanese Maple, and Rose Trees. A few other choices are Eastern Redbud, Raywood Ash, Chinese Pistache, Ornamental Fruit, Pagoda Tree, Serviceberry, Mayten Tree, Russian Olive, Honey Locust, Amur Maple and Magnolia.

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Discussion Comments
By Rundocuri — On May 21, 2014

@spotiche5- You make some very good points. Another issues with a patio tree is that you would be constantly cleaning up after it. Whether you are sweeping its leaves, cleaning sap, or scrubbing bird droppings, having a tree this close to your house is not worth the cost or work that it causes.

By Spotiche5 — On May 20, 2014

Though patio trees look interesting, I think having one either too close to a patio or growing through it is a bad idea. Just like the article states, it is very common for the root systems of trees that are too close to a house to cause problems. This can include issues with the structure of the home and even problems with the tree roots interfering with electrical or plumbing work. The repair costs for these problems are not worth having a patio tree.

Another issue with this type of tree is that problems often arise with the tree itself. For example, if a patio tree contracts a disease or damaging insects, it could die. Again, this cost would not be worth the cost to fix the problem. You could end up having to pay to remove the tree, and may have to pay to fix damages to the patio as well. If you want a nice shade tree, plant it several feet from your patio and use a cover or awning for shade on your patio.

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