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Native Trees in Northern CA: A Local Expert Guide For Beginners

Why Choose Native Trees?

Trees provide numerous benefits to us: they shade us in the summer and insulate us in the winter. They beautify our homes, parks, and urban spaces. Trees clean the air and contribute to our overall wellbeing. Well-established and maintained trees are essential pillars of a healthy environment.

Choosing native trees for your home is the best way to optimize all the advantages that trees provide. While cultivated trees might be a little showier, native trees have many strong advantages:

  • Drought-tolerant. Native Californian trees have survived the drought cycles for thousands of years. They are much more likely to survive an extra-hot summer (and the subsequent watering restrictions) than a species that is adapted in the Eastern U.S. or Europe, where water is plentiful.
  • Better for wildlife and biodiversity. Native birds and other animals make their homes in native trees, and many species are threatened by the human disruption of their natural habitat. Planting native trees and plants is a small step you can take to restore the natural habitat in your area.
  • Fewer chemicals and fertilizers. Since native species have evolved in the soils of Northern CA, they need fewer chemicals, fertilizers, and other soil amendments to thrive. This means fewer chemicals in your lawn, cleaner runoff from your property, and more money in your pocket.

Choosing Native Trees in Northern CA

Trees fall into two main groups: deciduous trees, which lose their leaves in winter and spread their seeds through flowers; and conifers, which have needles that stay green year-round and use cones to spread their seeds. Northern California is host to dozens of native species of both types. Here is a brief introduction to both types of native trees.


Many homeowners enjoy the fragrant flowers, vibrant summer greenery, and fantastic display of fall colors provided by deciduous trees. Many species commonly carried in nurseries are also California natives, such as the big leaf maple and western redbud. However, don’t overlook less common species like the Sierra plum, western chokecherry, or the Oregon oak. They boast beautiful flowers and fall color just like their cultivated counterparts, but they are better adapted to the soils and weather of Northern CA and are more likely to thrive here.


Conifers make fantastic additions to a home due to their year-round, evergreen beauty. They make for fantastic windbreaks and add their feathery needles to create an effective privacy screen. However, they can become quite tall and many species require a lot of space. They do drop pine cones and dead needles, which can be a fire hazard, so be sure to clear these out periodically. Conifers do well at higher elevations and forested areas, as well as suburban homes.

Good choices for native conifers that thrive in the suburban El Dorado area are the yellow pine, Monterey pine, lodgepole pine, and Douglas Fir. Many other species, such as the white silver fir, Jeffery pine, and sugar pine, grow in the higher elevations of El Dorado County.

Need expert advice?

If you need some expert advice on which types of trees would be best for your yard, give one of our certified arborists at Tree Removal Arborist a call. They can give you some tree care tips to ensure that you choose the best native species for your outdoor space.