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

Saturday - April 18, 2009

From: Venice, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Distance from existing structures for live oak
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How close to your house slab, driveway and footpaths should you plant live oaks so as to avoid in the future damage from roots, falling branches, etc?

ANSWER:

This is a question we are asked fairly frequently. Below are some excerpts from previous answers.

"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."

"As to the exact distance either should be planted from foundations or sidewalks, that becomes a matter of personal judgment. Soil subsidence around foundations is more often the result of the soil becoming too dry. It is true that tree roots will range out from their trunk as much as twice the diameter of the tree crown in search of moisture but this is usually not a prime factor in foundation damage. 

In general terms regarding the planting of trees near structures, 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. The most critical area lies within 6 to 10 feet of the trunk. Paving should be kept out of the dripline and no closer than 15 feet from the tree trunk."

 

 

More Trees Questions

Can oak pollen be composted?
April 28, 2015 - I have quite a few live oaks in my backyard and my flower beds are filled with pollen stuff. Can I compost and mulch over this or is it a good idea to rake as much as I can out first?
view the full question and answer

Native magnolias in MD
March 16, 2011 - We live in Chevy Chase MD. Three tulip magnolias planted three years ago as part of a hedge died during the blizzard conditions we experienced the winter following their planting. This year as well w...
view the full question and answer

Trees to plant around horse corrals
September 07, 2010 - I would like to know what types of trees would be good to plant around my horse corrals.
view the full question and answer

Plants for the Shade of a Pine Tree in Pittsburg
June 03, 2013 - I live in Pittsburgh, PA. My neighbor has a huge pine tree. Last year everything I planted on that side near the tree died. That part of the yard only gets morning sun, as the tree overshadows it. Wha...
view the full question and answer

Native evergreen tree for horse pasture in New Jersey
April 05, 2009 - I just pulled out a laurel that was hiding a stand pipe in our horse paddock. We had trouble this winter with the horses eating it when there was little grass to graze on. Can you suggest an evergre...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center