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

Wednesday - April 07, 2010

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Solution for wet area near fence
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I just moved into a house that is 10 years old on the north side of Houston, Texas. When it rains the water pools about 1 to 3 inches deep around the beds with trees (pine, sweet gum and chinaberry) and along the fence. Should we put in 75 feet of drain pipe or plant some thirsty trees? The fence is far enough from the house to plant some trees to shade the west side of the house and drink up the water. Can you suggest something besides willow trees?


I sounds as if it might be a good idea for you to find a way to keep the water from pooling there.  A French drain might be a good solution.  You might be able to do this yourself at relatively little expense or you can also find landscape professionals in the Houston area by searching in our National Suppliers Directory who could help you do this.  There are trees that will tolerate wet areas well, but that doesn't mean that they are going to "drink" up the excess water. With the exception of the bald cypress, none of them will be happy growing in standing water for a long period.  They should all be good shade trees:

Quercus phellos (willow oak)

Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)

Quercus michauxii (swamp chestnut oak)

Betula nigra (river birch)

Taxodium distichum (bald cypress)

Carya illinoinensis (pecan)

Here are photos from our Image Gallery of these trees:

Quercus phellos

Platanus occidentalis

Quercus michauxii

Betula nigra

Taxodium distichum

Carya illinoinensis



More Trees Questions

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

Large ash tree with round white spot on bark
July 21, 2008 - I have a large ash tree that seems to be fairly healthy. However, it has a large round white spot (about 18" diameter) on the bark, about 3' up from the base. Within the solid white circle the bark ...
view the full question and answer

Water requirements for fruit trees in California
January 15, 2013 - Dear Sir; In which of these options (fruit trees) the need for watering in irrigation process is higher than the others: -Olive tree -Nectarines and peaches trees -Hazelnut trees -Pistachios and ...
view the full question and answer

Removing juniper roots from San Francisco
February 13, 2011 - Topic-Juniper Tree Root Removal (agh!) Needs-3 removed yet roots remain, some growing UNDER the cement, driveway and house!!! (under growth = ~3" as far as I can determine, thus far). Question-Do I ...
view the full question and answer

Are there male and female mesquite trees and do both have seeds?
September 22, 2010 - Do both male and female mesquite trees (all species) have seed pods?
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