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

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

Evergreen tree to provide block for treehouse in Central Texas
April 02, 2010 - I live close to Austin TX and need an evergreen tree to block neighbor's newly constructed, metal roof tree house. It looms over our garden and yard - can you suggest a nice evergreen tree for hot m...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a school garden in College Station TX
July 20, 2011 - I need to plant some things in my school garden. Green plants and plants with some color. Hardly ever rains here. Please give suggestions.
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive carrot wood tree losing leaves in Alpine CA
April 22, 2014 - My carrot wood tree is losing all of its leaves. The tree is about 15foot high & 13 years old. Could it be gophers? The tree was trimmed 1 year ago.
view the full question and answer

Tree with tap root for small area
August 24, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: I'm looking for a tree with a tap root to plant for shade on the side of my patio. i have about a 4 foot area to plant in and it's 8 feet to my neighbors house. ..maybe somet...
view the full question and answer

Are Prunus minutiflora male and female flowers on different plants?
March 12, 2014 - I have a Prunus minutiflora and have recently learned the male and female flowers are on separate plants. How can I determine if I have a male or female plant?
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