En Español

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

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

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

Planting petunias around base of oak tree from Houma LA
March 30, 2013 - I live in south Louisiana and I want to plant petunias. Can I plant petunias around the base of an oak tree?
view the full question and answer

Affect of poisonous plant roots in soils for vegetables from Rusk TX
May 11, 2013 - I have a huge old flowerbed in front of my house that I want to plant veggies in, but I'm afraid to. It has a catalpa tree there, which I sell the worms from, but the entire tree (bark, leaves, flowe...
view the full question and answer

What is the best time of year to transplant a young pecan tree?
May 29, 2009 - What is the best time of year to transplant a young pecan tree?
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Seedling Texas Mountain Laurels
April 15, 2013 - I have two mountain laurels that I grew from seed. They are in pots, but the roots have grown through the bottom and into my flower bed. The trees are about 6 feet tall. They have already bloomed. So ...
view the full question and answer

Narrow, Small Tree for Austin, Texas Yard
December 17, 2015 - I need recommendation on what type of tree to plant between our neighbors and our home. The wall to wall space is 15 feet at best, with a fence in between. Currently we have a young mulberry but are b...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center