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?

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

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

Thursday - June 03, 2010

From: Denton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf
Title: Maple roots in lawn in Denton TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I purchased a new home 4 years ago that came with a landscape package. There are 2 trees in the front yard that I think are red maple trees. I am now seeing their roots appear above the ground which is ruining my nice sodded lawn. What do I need to do?

ANSWER:

When we went to our webpage on Acer rubrum (red maple),and then to the USDA Plant Profile on that tree, we learned that while it is native to Texas, it is pretty well confined to East Texas. That doesn't mean it won't grow in Denton, and really has nothing to do with the roots being on top of the ground, we just always check to see if a plant has been put in where it is native. The Red Maple is a pretty tree, nice in the Fall and good shade, but all the members of the genus Acer are notorious for above-ground, invasive roots. The roots form  a dense, fibrous network, often preventing other plants from growing near its trunk. Very tolerant of most soils, it prefers slightly acid, moist conditions; which is why it is native to East Texas wooded areas. Those surface roots can lift sidewalks and driveways or interfere with mowing. We can't help but feel that your landscaper knew all of this, and just put the trees in anyway.

What can you do about it? Live with it, we're afraid.  Because of the aforementioned tendency to discourage plants growing near its trunk, your grass isn't going to do well, anyway. There really isn't any possible action to force those roots to grow deeper in the ground, that's a genetic instruction for the plant to have those roots. If there is no paving close that can be disrupted by the roots, you could choose to keep it for the shade and appearance. However, this tree lives to be very big, like up to 100 ft., and the circumference of tree roots is often from two to four times the circumference of the crown, and the circumference of the crown may well be nearly the height of the tree. Maybe you won't stay in that house long enough for that to happen to you, but someday, somebody will be dealing with it. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Acer rubrum

Acer rubrum

Acer rubrum

Acer rubrum

 

 

 

 

More Turf Questions

Buffalograss to replace non-native St. Augustine lawn in Rockport TX
February 16, 2010 - I currently have a St. Augustine lawn that is being overtaken by weeds. I would like to replace it with buffalo grass. How do I prepare my lawn in order to seed it with the buffalo grass and how tol...
view the full question and answer

Lawn Grass for North Georgia
February 19, 2009 - I would like to know which type of grass would be best to plant in my yard? I have two dogs so there is a lot of traffic. The yard is on a slope so some of it stays dry while the rest is almost always...
view the full question and answer

Value of planting wildflowers versus maintaining turf
November 02, 2004 - I'm trying to determine the cost/value of planting wildflowers and whether it is less costly than maintaining turf. Do you have any research on this topic?
view the full question and answer

Small perennials & grasses for a naturalized lawn
October 26, 2009 - I am looking for native perennials and grasses that will grow no more than 8 inches tall that can be used in a naturalized lawn in Michigan. What 5 plants would be your first choice?
view the full question and answer

Seeding an established buffalograss lawn to make it denser
May 13, 2010 - We have 5400 sq ft of existing Buffalo grass and would like to know if spreading Buffalo grass SEED would help the existing get more full? I can't seem to find the seed here or the Austin area? And, ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center