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

Tuesday - December 16, 2008

From: Nashville, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Distance from existing oak trees to place paving
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We are designing an expansion for an existing veterinary office and the desired side for expansion will require addition to the parking and drive aisle to the back side of the property. My question is this, how close can we install pavement to two existing oak trees (both trees have 60+ DBH). Thank you for your time and effort in your response.

ANSWER:

An oak tree root system is extensive but shallow. The ground area at the outside edge of the canopy, referred to as the dripline, is especially important. The tree obtains most of its surface water here, and conducts an important exchange of air and other gases. Any change in the level of soil around an oak tree can have a negative impact. The most critical area lies within 6 to 10 feet of the trunk. No soil should be added or scraped away from that area. Construction activity is a great threat to trees. Do not allow any parking within the dripline or piling of materials, waste, etc. in that area.

Paving should be kept out of the dripline and no closer than 15 feet from the tree trunk. If at all possible, use a porous paving material such as brick with sand joints, open bricks, bark, gravel, etc., which will allow some water penetration and gas exchange. Even with porous paving, the area around the trunk-at least a 10 foot radius-should be natural and uncovered.

We realize these are difficult restrictions, and your construction crews will not be happy. However,  you will need to make a choice between the trees and the construction. If you fail to make provisions for the needs of the trees, even if the trees appear to have survived, they probably have only a few years before they succumb to disease or starvation. 

 

More Trees Questions

Dying leaves on Autumn Blaze Maple tree in Littleton, CO
May 25, 2012 - I have an autumn blaze maple where for the last two years the left side of the tree turns light green, then brown, and leaves die. The right side is dark green, normal. Is this a water over/under pr...
view the full question and answer

Difference between liveoaks (Quercus fusiformis and Q. virginiana)
March 17, 2008 - I am a little confused on the identification differences between Quercus fusiformis and Quercus virginiana. How can you properly identify between the two?
view the full question and answer

Need information about planting Red Maples in Houston, TX.
September 22, 2012 - I want to plant some Drummond Red Maples in my front yard. What cultivars would you recommend, and what is the absolute smallest amount of space possible between two of these trees?
view the full question and answer

Trees for traffic buffer in Portland OR
September 20, 2010 - Hi, saw the question about small space plants. On this topic, our street in Portland OR is looking for a fast growing, 20-30 ft tree that can go in a 12" wide parking strip along our road (we have ma...
view the full question and answer

Is sulfurous well water affecting leaves on trees in Belton TX
November 07, 2011 - We installed an irrigation system for our buffalo grass lawn last spring. The grass is fine but the leaves on the trees are burned where the water hits them. I suspect that the well we are using fo...
view the full question and answer

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