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

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Thursday - July 17, 2008

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils, Trees
Title: Effects of patio under large tree
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I would like to put in a patio under a fairly large tree. I understand a tree needs some open ground around it for air and water. Can I use flagstone leaving 6-10 inches of space between the stones? Or could I use something else like decomposed granite? Do you have any other suggestions?

ANSWER:

Because this is the type of question that comes up fairly often, we would like to refer you to a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer that covers most of the answers to your question. There are a number of excellent information links in that answer, especially one about permeable paving surfaces, which specifically mentions flagstones laid without mortar. It would seem that your plan would work, but you do need to remember that those roots are going to be pushing up to the surface for oxygen and water, and the more they push, the more the flagstones will be disarranged. However, if your patio plan is flexible enough to permit you to move stones around from time and time, and avoid compacting the earth, your patio should turn out fine.

 

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