A Messy Gingko Tree in a Yard

10 Messy Trees That Drop a Lot of Leaves

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Planting trees in your yard can be considered a great idea due to their multiple benefits. Aside from adding some stylish aesthetic appeal, trees can act as windbreaks and offer shade. However, some types of trees might not be ideally suited for yard use because they drop a lot of leaves and generally leave a mess of plant debris behind. It’s recommended to avoid planting messy trees if you’re concerned about time-consuming cleanup work.

If you’re simply worried about trees that shed lots of leaves, why not just plant only evergreen trees? Seems like an obvious solution because evergreens don’t drop any leaves during the fall and winter seasons. Even if they only drop needles occasionally, these can still be messy trees in other ways. Ideally, you should pay close attention to avoid planting the following trees that are considered very messy and will greatly impact yard maintenance.

1. Red Oak

Red Oak Tree in the Fall Season

An excellent shade tree with gorgeous fall foliage, the red oak is also considered a very messy tree. It drops a lot of leaves once fall arrives but it also clutters up your yard in other ways. Acorns are produced in great numbers by this tree and the fruits can start to add up in any outdoor space once the tree begins to drop them. Red oaks make a mess during the fall season but they also drop lots of flowers called catkins in the spring.

2. Weeping Willow

A Weeping Willow Tree in a Yard

Weeping willow is a big offender when it comes to trees that tend to drop a lot of leaves. This is a charming-looking tree but it may not be worth planting it on your property if you’re concerned about yard maintenance. Willows seem to constantly shed leaves, twigs, branches, and various plant matter. The problem becomes more severe as the tree grows older because it usually starts to drop even more leaves on the ground.

3. Pecan

A Pecan Tree in a Yard

Planting a pecan tree in the yard seems like a great decision if you love its delicious nuts. However, this is considered a fairly messy tree which can make it a hassle to keep the yard clean. Pecans tend to drop their leaves very rapidly in the fall creating many messy piles. It’s not just the leaf amount that’s bothersome. The tree’s small leaf size means that you won’t have an easy time raking them. A mature pecan tree will also drop lots of nuts and brittle branches.

4. Southern Magnolia

A Southern Magnolia Tree in a Yard

Some of the most beautiful trees are also some of the messiest out there. It’s the case of the southern magnolia with its stunning white flowers that fill the air with a unique fragrance. These trees shed a lot of leaves but that wouldn’t be such a huge issue if it weren’t for their characteristic waxy texture. Raking the leaves of a southern magnolia is quite a hassle compared to other trees. Additionally, this tree drops twigs and branches as well as a lot of flower pollen.

5. Sweet Gum

A Sweet Gum Tree in a Yard

If you want to keep yard maintenance to a minimum, you should probably avoid planting the sweet gum tree. Even though it features attractive fall foliage, you won’t be too happy when it’s time to rake the leaves. The tree sheds spiky fruits shaped like little balls. It will make the leaves-removal process seem much harder as the fruits of the sweet gums typically need to be gathered by hand. The cleanup work has another layer of difficulty when taking into account the sticky sap produced by the tree.

6. Northern Catalpa

A Northern Catalpa Tree in a Yard

Known for dropping lots of large leaves, the northern catalpa is another messy tree that should be avoided. As opposed to trees such as red oak, the leaves of catalpa are not even that attractive to make it worth leaving them on the ground. They become really unsightly once frost affects the tree. Your yard will end up looking very messy as it’s full of ugly fallen leaves. Some landscapers still prefer planting northern catalpa for their beautiful flowers. It’s up to you if you’re willing to deal with the difficult maintenance involved.

7. Eastern Cottonwood

An Eastern Cottonwood Red Oak Tree in a Yard

The eastern cottonwood creates a lot of mess in the yard by dropping leaves together with fluffy seeds. It’s fairly challenging to rake the leaves because the seeds will impede the process by sticking to them and any other plant matter found on the ground. Aside from avoiding this tree due to its messy nature, eastern cottonwoods are also not great yard trees if you’re worried about brittle trees that cannot withstand harsh weather conditions.

8. Ginkgo

Ginkgo Tree Fruits and Leaves Scattered Messily on the Ground

Despite dropping lots of leaves in the fall, ginkgo trees are actually considered fairly easy to care for. Their bright yellow leaves are not difficult to rake as they can be quickly gathered in one large pile. That being said, you need to be careful to plant only male trees in your yard because female ginkgos produce a really messy fruit that will increase maintenance difficulty. It’s also worth noting that the dropped fruits have a strong and unpleasant smell.

9. Sycamore

A Sycamore Tree in a Yard

Don’t like the idea of raking tons of fallen leaves? Make sure you avoid planting sycamore trees because they’re notoriously messy. Your yard will quickly get filled with a lot of tree debris such as seedpods and bark pieces. Despite its majestic visual appeal, a sycamore tree can also ruin your plans for having a tidy yard. It sheds lots of leaves that can end up anywhere in big piles. This type of tree can also be a pain to maintain due to its aggressive root system.

10. Tulip Poplar

A Tulip Poplar Tree in a Yard

Part of the magnolia family of trees, tulip poplars get their name from the characteristic tulip-shaped flowers they produce. Landscapers might be tempted to plant this tree in their yard due to its majestic height and striking flowers. A tulip poplar can reach 100 feet in height but it’s a difficult tree to maintain, especially for small yards where its messiness becomes more apparent. It drops lots of leaves as well as twigs and branches year-round.


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