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Mr. Smarty Plants - Native shade trees for Austin

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Friday - May 15, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Native shade trees for Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am building a new home that does not have any trees close by-- I want to have several shade trees to increase the efficiency of my home. What are your suggestions for an easy care, fast-growing, and low-water tree that is also native to the Austin area?

ANSWER:

Generally speaking, we don't recommend "fast-growing" trees, because they tend to have weak wood, break down easily and are short-lived. Since your house is being built now, we urge you to wait until cool weather to attempt to plant your trees.That also should be time enough for construction to be complete, as you certainly don't want to subject new young trees to construction material being piled above their roots, grading of the property, or the absence of a water source for the newly-planted tree.

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 a tree can have a negative impact. 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. Placement involves considering foundations, sidewalks and driveways.

You can search for trees on your own by going to our Recommended Species section, clicking on Central Texas on the map, and then Narrow Your Search by selecting "trees" under habit. We will make some suggestions, but you can tailor your choices to your particular circumstances.

Trees for Central Texas

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud) - deciduous, 10 to 20 ft. tall, blooms pink, purple March and April, medium water use, sun, part shade

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) - deciduous, 15 to 30 ft. tall, blooms white, pink, purple April to September, low water use, sun

Cotinus obovatus (American smoketree) - deciduous, 15 to 30 ft. tall, blooms pink, yellow April and May, low water use, sun, part shade

Fraxinus texensis (Texas ash) - 30 to 45 ft. tall, low water use, part shade

Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum) - deciduous, 15 to 35 ft. tall, blooms white, pink February to April

Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak) - deciduous, 40 to 100 ft. tall, medium water use, sun, part shade, shade

Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) - deciduous, 50 to 75 ft. tall, medium water use, sun, part shade


Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Chilopsis linearis

Cotinus obovatus

Fraxinus texensis

Prunus mexicana

Quercus macrocarpa

Taxodium distichum

 

 

 

 

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