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
1 rating

Monday - September 07, 2009

From: Coppell, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Tree with tap root for small area near Dallas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Coppell, TX (a suburb of Dallas) & am looking for a tree to plant near our pool to provide some shade. The current tree (a silver leaf maple) is dying. My husband thinks we need a tree w/ a tap root system. The size of the area for planting the tree is about 5 ft x 5 ft. What would you suggest? Thank you very much.

ANSWER:

Your husband is no doubt worrying about the roots of the tree causing damage to the pool and other nearby structures.  Here is information from the answer to a question we received a few weeks ago about trees with tap roots:

"Although trees are generally divided into two groups by root type—tap root trees (such as oaks, hickory, walnut, conifers) and lateral, or fibrous, root trees (maples, ash, cottonwood)—this distinction is most evident as seedlings or saplings. Once the tree is planted and begins to mature, the distinctions between the root types become less pronounced. Then, the depth and lateralness of the roots is greatly dependent on the soil condition. Highly compacted soils, soils with low oxygen content and soils where the water table is near the surface are not likely to produce a strong tap root. Their roots are more likely to be lateral and located very near the surface with the majority of the roots located in the top 12 inches of soil. Also, it is important to realize that the spread of the roots can be at least 2 to 4 times greater than the drip line of the branches.

You can read the recommendations from Iowa State University Extension Service for Sidewalks and Trees which bases the distance trees should be planted near pavement on the mature height of the tree. Their recommendations are:

1. trees with a mature height of less than 30 feet, 3-4 feet from pavement,
2. trees with a mature height of 30 to 50 feet, 5-6 feet from pavement,
3. trees with a mature height of greater than 50 feet, at least 8 feet from pavement."

Because of the small size of your space, I will suggest several smaller trees.  Here are some trees that have a maximum height of 30 feet or less:

Cotinus obovatus (American smoketree).  Here is more information.

Frangula caroliniana [syn. = Rhamnus caroliniana] (Carolina buckthorn).  Here is more information.

Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud) has a rapid growth rate of 15 to 30 feet.  Here is more information

Viburnum rufidulum (rusty blackhaw).  Here is more information.

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon).  Here is more information.

You might be able to get away with smaller medium-sized trees.  All of these next ones would be considered medium-sized or small trees with a maximum height of less than 50 feet.

Fraxinus texensis (Texas ash)  has a rapid growth rate and is long-lived, 30 to 45 feet.  It  also has beautiful fall foliage.  Here is  more information.

Acer grandidentatum (bigtooth maple) has both a tap root system and lateral roots, a moderate growth rate up to 50 feet and beautiful fall foliage.  Here is more information.

Quercus laceyi [syn. = Q. glaucoides] (Lacey oak).  Here is more information.


Cotinus obovatus

Frangula caroliniana

Cercis canadensis

Viburnum rufidulum

Ilex vomitoria

Fraxinus texensis

Acer grandidentatum

Quercus laceyi

 

 

More Trees Questions

Identification of possible Bald cypress
June 26, 2008 - I live in the Houston area, last year we traveled to South Padre Island and,on the way, I noticed a tree that was just beautiful. It looked like a cross between a Norfolk pine and some kind of cycads....
view the full question and answer

Living fence of native plants for Ojai, CA
September 20, 2008 - I would like to build a "green fence" about 10-15 feet tall. I live in Ojai, CA where we have VERY hot summers and it goes below freezing every winter. The soil does not seem to drain well..it is e...
view the full question and answer

Leaves falling off live oak tree in Eureka TX
August 22, 2009 - I have the same question; it is in Navarro County in August. The leaves are falling off my live oak tree, they are brownish yellow, but it is not oak wilt. What might it be? This year I put mulch arou...
view the full question and answer

Pruning wax myrtles from Austin
March 29, 2011 - I've got some wax myrtles that have grown up in the last 10 years on my property line, completely volunteer. My neighbor has begun to grumble about too much shade on his yard. I'd like to trim them ...
view the full question and answer

Trophy tree for Spicewood, Texas
September 30, 2008 - I want to plant a trophy Mesquite at the bottom of the hill, in Spicewood. I'm told that it may not flourish, because of the soil in my area. If that is the case, what would be a striking tree as a...
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