En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
3 ratings

Saturday - February 02, 2008

From: Rockport, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Protection of live oak trees from covering by concrete patio
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I am thinking about pouring a large cement patio around my live oak trees in my yard. I live in Rockport Tx. How far should the edge of the cement be, from the base of the tree? Will the patio kill the trees?


Roots of trees generally extend at least as far out as the shadow of the canopy of the tree. This area is referred to as the Protected Root Zone (PRZ). Covering this area with concrete is likely to cause the death of the tree by physically damaging the roots and by inhibiting oxygen and water from reaching the roots. Additionally, the roots of the tree have the potential to damage/crack the concrete as they grow trying to reach water and oxygen.

There are a number of permeable paving materials that you might consider instead of concrete. These include such materials as paving bricks, flagstones or patio blocks as long as they are laid without mortar. You can find more types of permeable pavers here. Another possibility is a raised wooden deck that could go right up to the edge of the tree with no harm as long as its foundation didn't damage the roots of the tree.

You can read more about protecting trees from damage during construction projects and advice about placement of pavement in the area of trees in Landscaping Around Established Trees from University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Service and Protecting Trees from Construction Damage: A Homeowner's Guide from the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

You can find a list a Landscape Professionals near your area who could advise you on permeable paving materials in our National Suppliers Directory. You might also try your local library or bookstores for books on alternatives materials for patios (e.g., Taunton's Deck & Patio Idea Book or Sunset Ideas for Great Patios and Decks).


More Trees Questions

Young huisache trees dying
October 02, 2015 - We have had several young huisache trees suddenly die. These trees are only three or four years old and were apparently healthy when they just died. They are growing by the curb on a city street and w...
view the full question and answer

Need information about pruning Persimmon trees in Buda, TX.
November 29, 2010 - Mr. Smarty, We have many wild persimmon trees in our yard. Some I want prune to bush size. What is the best way to prune these trees and to what extent can they be safely pruned. Thank you for shari...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on women trying to conceive
July 10, 2005 - RE: Eucalyptus. Is this bad for women trying to conceive? The smell is very powerful.
view the full question and answer

How close to plant Prunus carolinia for a privacy buffer in Montgomery, TX.
December 16, 2010 - I recently purchased some Prunus caroliniana trees for a privacy buffer between my neighbor and me. I have not yet planted them. They are in 25 gallon buckets and are about 10 feet tall now. How mu...
view the full question and answer

Pecan trees too close together in Austin
August 14, 2012 - There are two pecan trees in my central Austin yard. Each is four or five inches diameter at chest height and maybe 15 feet tall. They are within six feet of each other and their canopies interfere wi...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center