Medford does have rules on tree types

I bought a foreclosed house with a neglected yard last summer. I planted two mimosa or silk trees in the planting strip in front of the house in October, then added tulips, crocus and daffodils.

I now know I planted the trees incorrectly for the clay soil in my lot but the bulbs are blooming. Recently my neighbor said, "I am surprised the city let you plant those. I was told I could only plant ginkgo biloba trees; that's why we have grass."

I do not know whether the trees survived the winter. What am I allowed to plant in that strip of soil between the sidewalk and the street? Is that bit of land the responsibility of the homeowner or the city? Thank you.

— Just C., Medford

Well, Just (may we just call you Just?), there are indeed restrictions on which tree species you can plant, but the city does not impose any one-species rule.

In fact, there are more than 100 types of trees, from Aesculus hippocastanum (horsechestnut) to Zelkova serrata (green vase) listed on the city's website as appropriate for planting in the city's right of way, which is typically the area between the sidewalk and the street.

Care of the area is your responsibility, but the city has authority to access it for necessary work.

You're not limited to ginkgo bilobas by the city. However — and this could be a big however — there can be tree restrictions that were put in place by the developers of your neighborhood, either through the planned unit development process or through CCRs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) that are part of a homeowner's association agreement. Even if the homeowner's association (or the developer) has long since departed, the rules remain in effect.

If your neighbor is correct, it may be that your neighborhood has such a rule, which is intended to give the area a uniform and orderly appearance (here in Pleasantville, all of our children are above average and all of our trees are flowering cherry).

Bill Harrington, the city's arborist, says he is happy to work with homeowners to help them select the correct trees for their area and soil type. His office number is 541-774-2690. (He is not, by the way, a big fan of mimosa trees, due to their messy nature.)

To get started, however, he suggests you check out the city's tree list, which can be found at Look on the lefthand rail for "Tree Planting Information." Once there, you'll find the types of trees that are allowed and suggestions on the best ways to plant them. The list also includes descriptions of the various trees' attributes, including usual height and width.

But before you get excited about planting a Fraxinus oxycarpa (flame ash), you'd better check to see whether restrictions were put in place for your neighborhood when it was first developed.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to

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