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

Monday - March 02, 2009

From: Lees Summit, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Patio materials under a native oak trees in Missouri
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is it safe to build a pavestone patio (with gravel sub base, Geo tech 101 fabric and sand bed..around two 50+ year old native oak trees? I know concrete would compact and cause damage to the surface roots and inhibit moisture absorption...won't a pavestone patio with the other requirements do almost the same damage? Do you have other suggestions?

ANSWER:

You could certainly give the Pavestone a try, but the reason your oak trees have been there so long is because they are survivors, and probably won't hesitate to take on those pavers. It wouldn't be long before the surface would became uneven, as roots underneath pushed up toward oxygen and water. Our recommendation would be to consider either a raised wooden deck or simply mulching for a comfortable attractive ground cover under the tree. Read on for some additional information from previous Mr. Smarty Plants answers.

"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  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

Can Condalia hookeri (Brasil or Bluewood condalia) self-pollinate?
May 07, 2014 - Good morning Mr. SP, I see from your description of Condalia hookeri that this species has bisexual flowers. Do you know if it is self-incompatible?
view the full question and answer

Overwatering Texas Mountain Laurel from Rosanky TX
June 06, 2012 - I just read your article in the Statesman about over watering Mt.Laurel. Now I know why my lovely 15 year old tree is dying. We put in new grass this winter and I watered too much. Is there any hop...
view the full question and answer

Problem with baldcypress tree
May 27, 2011 - Two of my three 20 year old Bald Cypress trees appear to have leafed out but are now brown in parts of the tree. The brown area is at the tops of the trees which are probably 40 ft. high. They were...
view the full question and answer

Cotonwood fluff in Kansas
May 23, 2010 - Two weeks ago my yard, deck pond became covered in seeds/leaves not sure what it is but it looks like oatmeal. Any idea what plant it might come from.
view the full question and answer

Tall trees for planting around a swimming pool in Frisco, Texas
May 04, 2010 - Could you please tell me what kind of tall trees would be best to plant around a swimming pool in Frisco, Texas?
view the full question and answer

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