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

Plants for area around salt water pool
June 27, 2013 - What are some plants that will grow around my salt water pool where there is some salt water runoff occasionally.
view the full question and answer

What is causing leaf drop on oak in Morgan Hill CA?
June 23, 2010 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants: We have a large, young Valley Oak (about 20 yrs) which is dropping leaves even now in early summer. I have a feeling that the problem might be an invasive weed that is flourishi...
view the full question and answer

Non-native mimosa failing to bloom in Leitchfield KY
October 29, 2011 - I have a medium size mimosa tree here in KY that usually blooms beautifully; it did not bloom at all this year. It leafed out well, needs a few dead limbs pruned, but seems otherwise healthy. Please t...
view the full question and answer

Carolina buckthorn and Neem Oil Spray Damage
April 27, 2015 - It's April, I have a Carolina buckthorn that seemed to be doing well, about 8 feet tall, about 2 years old in part shade. It was putting out new leaves about a month ago and seemed to have infestati...
view the full question and answer

Root rot in trees near Lake Wenatchee State Park, WA
June 26, 2011 - Lake Wenatchee State Park, WA has been closed due to root rot for a year. I own a cabin 1 mile from the State Park. I cannot find a single piece of information about whether private property near th...
view the full question and answer

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