Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

Tuesday - July 07, 2009

From: San Antonio , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Distance of oak tree to existing driveway in San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How close can I plant a live oak tree (15 gal) next to an existing driveway. I have about 3 feet space to plant between a fence and a driveway. This is the best spot to provide future shade. My concern is if the roots will raise the concrete over time.

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. Paving should not be in the dripline and no closer than 15 feet from the tree trunk. The area around the trunk-at least a 10 foot radius-should be natural and uncovered.

Not only would your pavement begin to buckle, but the tree would not thrive, either. What is on the other side of the fence? The tree roots can go under the fence, but then is there another driveway or foundation? We would hate to see you go to that much trouble and expense planting such a large tree, and have it cause so much trouble down the line and probably lose the tree, too. Now that you know what kind of spacing the tree needs, perhaps you can find another place on your property where it will be able to grow without disruption of foundations, sidewalks, driveways or its own roots.

 

More Trees Questions

Small tree to plant with high bush blueberry plants
May 13, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have four wonderful new highbush blueberry plants. I like to plant a native tree nearby to accent them, but cannot find a suitable one. I'd like a tree that is not going ...
view the full question and answer

Abundance of acorns from Wimberley TX
November 22, 2013 - We have lived in Wimberley since 1999 and this is the first time we have had such a huge abundance of acorns on our Oak trees, which is surprising considering the drought we have been in the last few ...
view the full question and answer

Why are branches falling from my pecan trees?
November 02, 2010 - I have tree branches falling that appear to have been cut, not broken,off the tree. Seen most on the pecan trees but had a young red bud die with what appears a clean cut of the trunk approx. 2 feet ...
view the full question and answer

Distinguish between Huisache and Goldenball Leadtree
March 23, 2008 - How do you distinguish between Huisache (Acacia farnesiana) and Goldenball Leadtree (Leucaena retusa)? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Magnolia Not Doing Well in Round Rock, Texas
June 25, 2011 - I have a Magnolia grandiflora in my back yard, planted on May 20th of this year. Located on a western exposure with no shade and about 18' tall x 10' wide. I've been watering it every 3-4 days or ...
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.