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

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

Norway Pine vs. Norway Spruce
April 28, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Is a Norway Pine the same species of tree as a Norway Spruce?
view the full question and answer

Why are my lemon Cyprees trees turning Black?
April 01, 2010 - I have 3 lemon Cypress plants - all are about 6 feet tall. One of them has started turning black on one side - like it's been burnt. The inside of the plant is also turning black. I assume something ...
view the full question and answer

Trees for creek side in Illinois
July 04, 2008 - I have a creek that runs along my back yard, and was wondering if you could give me some suggestions on water loving trees to grow next to it. The creek gets sun all day and is located in zone 5. (so...
view the full question and answer

Need small, fast growing trees for privacy screen in Buda, TX.
February 01, 2013 - Please recommend some small, but fast growing, flowering trees to plant along a western fence for privacy
view the full question and answer

A Crabapple for the Austin, TX area.
May 06, 2014 - I am in search of crab apples. Don't they grow in Austin? I can not seem to be able to locate any here. Any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

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