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

Bracket fungus on live oaks
October 04, 2007 - I live in Cedar Park and the house we just bought has 4 native live oaks growing in the front yard. On two of the live oaks there are bracket fungi growing at their base. Each tree just produced two n...
view the full question and answer

Protecting a non-native Meyer Lemon from Freezing in Austin
January 05, 2013 - What is the best way to protect my Meyer Lemon tree from freezing Austin weather? It has been planted in my yard for 1 year and is about 4 feet high
view the full question and answer

Watering oaks during drought in Austin
July 29, 2009 - Should we be watering our live oaks and Spanish oaks during this drought? How often and how much?
view the full question and answer

Looking for a seedless variety of Desert Willow in San Antonio.
February 17, 2011 - Is there a seedless (podless)variety of the Desert Willow tree that also has the dark burgundy color? If so, do you know who sells it in the central Texas area?
view the full question and answer

Should Texas live oaks be mulched under drought conditions?
July 19, 2011 - Should we mulch our live oaks in pastures for water retention?
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