Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - September 16, 2007

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Trees
Title: Flashing barrier to Bermuda in tree bed
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm building a 6-ft-diameter planting bed on a gentle slope on blackland clay, at the center of which I plan to install a cedar elm. I'm using the wedge-shaped stones from the home-improvement store and plan to raise the soil a couple of inches and level it inside the bed. I have also installed 10" flashing inside the perimeter in hopes of impeding the evil bermuda, but now I am wondering if that will also impede the roots of my tree and cause them to circle. Should I remove the flashing and fight the grass some other way? The flashing would be 3 feet away from the trunk in any direction.

ANSWER:

The flashing, especially 3 feet away from the roots of the Ulmus crassifolia (cedar elm), should not cause any problems with the tree roots. After all, when you see the damage that is wreaked by tree roots on sidewalks, foundations, sewer lines, etc., why should a little piece of metal bother it? Actually, the only time you have to worry about roots circling is when the plant stays in a confining pot too long. If you purchase the tree in a pot, be sure and check before the tree goes in the ground. If, indeed, the roots are circling or "girdling", do some root clipping (and you can be pretty ruthless) to force the roots to spread. By the time the roots get to your metal flashing, they will be perfectly able to dive under and continue their progress. And, sorry, but it's doubtful that the flashing is going to be much of a deterrent to the Bermuda grass, either. With above-ground stolons and below-ground rhizomes questing for fresh territory, it's tough to block out. But, hey, anything is worth a shot, and your idea seems sound. If it works, let us know.

 

More Trees Questions

Oak Sucker Reprise
May 02, 2015 - ----Original Question---- SUNDAY - JULY 06, 2014 Title: Live Oak Suckers Reprise, Austin TX QUESTION: Referring to an entry dated March 11, 2011 about Live Oak suckers - what happened to the su...
view the full question and answer

A good Amelanchier (Serviceberry) for Brooklyn, NY.
November 03, 2015 - I am looking to purchase an Amelanchier to plant in Brooklyn this month. Would you know which variety works best in a small garden and also is it too late to plant. Mainly, I am looking for someone wh...
view the full question and answer

Native evergreen to replace non-native chinaberry
November 08, 2011 - Looking for a native evergreen tree to replace a fruitless Chinaberry that was 35 years old. We have clay soil for about 3 feet and then you hit rock. Suggestions would be appreciated.
view the full question and answer

Will Mountain Laurels be harmed by juglones from my pecan tree?
May 06, 2009 - Hi. I just bought a house. It has a big pecan tree at the edge of the front lawn next to the street. I guess it's about 25 feet from the front of the house. I was thinking of planting mountain la...
view the full question and answer

Desert willow for Florida?
March 10, 2011 - I, too, am interested in the desert willow tree. I reside in central Florida, 32162. However, Mountain States Nursery does not ship east of Texas. May I have a listing of other nurseries also. T...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.