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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - September 22, 2009

From: Fredericksburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Live Oaks and Foundations
Answered by: Damon Waitt and Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a young live oak (18 inch trunk at it's base) growing within four feet of my house. What kind of damage can it cause my foundation? Need your help!

ANSWER:

While it is certainly true that tree roots can grow up to three times the spread of a tree, the problem in foundations, especially in our very dry climate, is soil subsidence. The tree root does its part on this by looking for water and sucking it up, but the very dry soil is probably going to drop and shrink anyway, and that is much more likely to cause the foundation damage then the tree roots. That  said, that's pretty darn close to the house for a tree that can attain a large size such as Quercus fusiformis (plateau oak), and not just because of the roots. There is really no way to tell a live oak to grow in another direction, and the branches against your roof can definitely cause problems. Insects, not to mention squirrels and raccoons, consider tree branches against a house as an open invitation to come in, have a bite to eat, and spend the winter. Certainly a trained arborist could prune the branches away from the house, but when you prune a plant, where does the new growth appear? Right, it appears in the area you pruned. We can't really recommend one way or the other on removing the tree (we assume you choose the house over the tree?) but you should certainly get the opinion of the aforementioned tree specialist.


Quercus fusiformis

 

 

More Trees Questions

Hardy Tree for Kansas
March 14, 2012 - I'm hoping to find a tree that is hardy and will survive all rough seasons in Wichita, KS. The spot is in front of a northern exposure window.
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers for Shade Under a Sweetgum
March 25, 2015 - I have 3 large sweetgum trees that produce so much shade each summer, and grass, even grass meant for shade, won't grow here. It's become a barren desert! I have English ivy but it only seems to gro...
view the full question and answer

Plant Suggestions for a Partly Sunny Steep Bank in Illinois
November 09, 2013 - I am looking to plant something on a steep clay bank on our Illinois property. It is on the edge of our dirt road with trees above the bank and is partly sunny. What would work best for that type of a...
view the full question and answer

Tree species for a small yard
June 29, 2012 - I have a small front yard area. Maybe 10' x 15'. It is also elevated. There is a retaining wall about 4 feet high. The builders planted a live oak! I think it is a nightmare waiting to happen as it ...
view the full question and answer

Sticky stuff dripping from non-native crape myrtle in Austin
August 01, 2012 - There is sticky sap-like stuff dropping from the very large crepe myrtle in my yard. The tree has quit blooming. This didn't happen last year when it was so dry; it started after we had all the rain ...
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