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

Sunday - August 22, 2010

From: Lewisville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Distance for Escarpment oak to house from Lewisville TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I am planting an Escarpment Live Oak about 15' from my house. Thats as far away as I can plant it. Will this be a safe distance? How large will it be in 20 years?


When you say you "are planting" Quercus fusiformis (plateau oak), please  tell us you are not planting it now, in the August furnace of Texas. Apparently, it is being planted as far north in Texas as Denton County, not just on the Escarpment of Texas, for which it is named. Also, we hope you have not already purchased it and have it sitting in a black plastic pot waiting to be planted. If so, it's roots are probably fried.  Woody plants should be planted in late Fall or Winter in Texas, when they are somewhat dormant.

Much as we love this oak, we want to try and discourage you from planting it in the residential setting you have indicated. In the first place, this tree, although relatively slow-growing, will mature to about 50 ft. in both height and width.  The roots beneath the soil can reach up to two to three times the size of the crown of the tree.  15 ft. is not nearly far enough. Take a look at these pictures from the University of Texas Archive of Central Texas Plants.  Probably these are older than 20 years, but nevertheless, sooner or later, either the tree or the house will have to go, not to mention the house next door. 

Another thing we would like to mention is Oak Wilt, to which Quercus fusiformis (plateau oak) is extremely susceptible. If you look at this  Texas Oak Wilt Partnership site, you will see that Oak Wilt is present in North Texas and is very difficult to deal with.

If, as we said, you have not already committed to the planting of the tree, we would suggest a smaller tree more suited to a residential situation, and not as likely to contract a deadly disease. 


More Trees Questions

Fast-growing "climbing" tree.
February 12, 2009 - I live in Northern Virginia. My children would love for me to plant a "climbing" tree - short trunk, nice spread of limbs. Can you recommend a tree that could grow to meet this requirement in abou...
view the full question and answer

Controlling live oak suckers in Florida
July 20, 2014 - How do I kill emerging live oak sprouts coming from mature tree root system
view the full question and answer

Will damage to live oak root make it more susceptible to oak wilt
December 24, 2012 - Hi. I knicked the root of a live oak when digging. Will this hurt the tree and make it more succeptible to wilt? Is there something I can use to protect the exposed part of the root and make it les...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Quercus texana (Nuttall oak) in Alabama
March 12, 2014 - I have a 3" diameter Nuttall Oak that the builder planted when building the house. Last summer I noticed that several spots on the trunk were oozing sap (vertical approximately 1.5" long by 0.5" wi...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping in Bertram TX
September 25, 2009 - I have a landscaping job in Bertram, Texas and am looking for all my options as far as full and partial shade somewhat hardy plants. I'm mainly looking for small plants and pretty flowers I can do wi...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center