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?

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
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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - September 26, 2008

From: Aledo, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Distance from wall to plant Eastern red cedar
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I want to plant a row of Eastern red cedar on the high side of a 2 to 2 1/2 ft large Pavestone block retaining wall, preferably as close to the wall as possible. We have put maybe 4-5" of gravel behind this wall to facilitate drainage, and this should deter root growth toward the wall. How close to the wall can I safely plant these trees? Thank you much.

ANSWER:

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) generally grows to around 40 feet high, but can grow as tall as 90 feet. Its width at maturity can be 8 to 20 feet wide.  How close to your pavestone wall you choose to plant should be guided by the range of any lateral roots and width of the mature tree.

The US Forest Service database says:  

"Eastern redcedar generally has a shallow, fibrous root system, though roots of mature eastern redcedar trees may penetrate 25 feet (7.6 m) and lateral roots may reach 20 feet (6 m).  Eastern redcedar seedlings have penetrating taproots and may later develop a lateral taproot system.  The deep, early taproot is usually replaced by an extensive, shallow root system with age.  Even 1st year seedlings begin developing a long fibrous root system, often at the expense of top growth.  The root system may be deep where soil permits, but on shallow and rocky soils eastern redcedar roots are very fibrous and tend to spread widely.  The development of a lateral taproot with age may also enable eastern redcedar to persist on outcrops and shallow soils."

The US Forest Service Silvics Manual says that the soil condition determines whether the tree develops a deep tap root or spreading lateral roots.  In thin rocky soil fibrous lateral roots will be predominant; but, if the soil permits, the root system may be a deep penetrating tap root.  So, if your soil is good, you shouldn't have great concern about lateral roots.  

You should probably not plant the trees a distance from your wall that is less than half the width of the mature tree.   Kansas Forest Service recommends a planting spacing for redcedars of 6 to 10 feet and University of Missouri Extension recommends a spacing of 8-12 feet.

Cultivars have been developed that are smaller; for instance, according to the University of Connecticut there is a cultivar, 'Emerald Sentinel', that is a pyramidal, columnar shape that grows to 20 feet high and only 8 feet wide. If this tree sounds as if it is tall enough for you, it could probably be planted 3 to 4 feet from your wall.


Juniperus virginiana

Juniperus virginiana

Juniperus virginiana

Juniperus virginiana

 


 


 

More Trees Questions

Will non-native and invasive Mexican petunias grow under oak trees from St. Augustine FL
March 24, 2013 - Will Mexican Petunias grow under an Oak tree?
view the full question and answer

Possible identification of Physocarpus opulifolius
June 11, 2007 - Can you please tell me what kind of tree has a maple leaf and a white snowball flower?The young and very small tree was already here when i bought my home,it stands only 7 feet tall with a 2 inch t...
view the full question and answer

Plants for oak shade from Whitney TX
December 24, 2012 - I live in Whitney, Texas and have a number of beautiful Live Oak trees in a portion of my yard providing deep shade. Asian Jasmine grows in about 5 ft circle around them and then nothing! I have walk ...
view the full question and answer

Tree for memorial in Levittown NY
August 09, 2010 - I am planning a tree planting memorial in Wantagh Park and I don't know what will be hardy enough to grow there. There are the constant breeze and salt water elements to deal with there and of course...
view the full question and answer

Why are small leaf pieces aligned on top of exposed root?
July 11, 2011 - Hi. An oak tree in my yard has one of its exposed roots covered in hundreds of small pieces of leaves. The pieces follow exactly the shape of the root above the surface. What insect would do this and...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center