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?


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

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


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.


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

Root suckers growing from base of oak in California
November 24, 2008 - I planted four trees labeled by the nursery when purchased as "Louisiana Oaks" approximately 20 yrs ago in my front yard. All trees are growing well but one of the four has a progressing mass of ro...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing leaves on young bur oak
August 06, 2007 - I saw your response on 7/25 about leaves on mature live oaks turning yellow, then brown because of excessive rain. The same thing is happening to our young burr oak. Leaves are turning yellowish, th...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Live Oak tree in Jacksonville FL
February 21, 2011 - My live oak tree was planted 13 years ago as a mature young tree. Until last fall, it was full and healthy. Then leaves started turning brown and dropping. The company who cares for our lawn/shrubs ...
view the full question and answer

Why doesn't my Possum Haw have berries this year?
May 20, 2010 - A possumhaw holly has no berries as of mid-May. I planted this possumhaw last summer - it had lots of berries. Why would it have no berries this year? This spring I have two yaupons with lots of b...
view the full question and answer

Privacy hedge for Palm Springs CA
July 04, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants I have a 6 foot block wall, and my house is elevated, and I need a privacy hedge or tree (even flowering) to create more privacy. I do not want to use Ficus as I hear they can d...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center