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
2 ratings

Wednesday - December 08, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: How close can I plant Mountain Laurels to my house in Austin, TX?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Hello, I'm interested in planting 2 or 3 Texas Mountain Laurels on the side of my house and I'm wondering just how close is safe. I've been told that planting trees too close can damage the slab foundation, but I'm planning on keeping the tree around 10', and since it's supposed to dig it's roots deep rather than wide, I'm hoping I can keep them pretty close. What do you think?

ANSWER:

Mountain laurel Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel) can be a spectacular addition to your landscape, and your concern about the foundation is understandable. However in the case of Sophora, it is not a big problem.
 I’m going to direct you to three links: the first from Iowa State University Extension tells about plant roots in general; the second, also from Iowa State, deals with Trees and Sidewalks; and the third article describes the Mountain Laurel and its planting and care.

From this reading, you can see that a shrub like Mountain Laurel does not produce the large lateral roots that you find in larger trees, so its threat to the foundation is minimal.  Mr. Smarty plants thinks that you need to focus on the top part of the plant. Putting it too close would allow it to interfere with the sides and and eaves of the house, as well as makeit difficult to trim and maintain the plant. Look around Austin for mature specimens of Mountain Laurel and try to visualize how they would look next to your house before deciding on your planting location. Proper pruning as the shrubs mature is important in maintaining the appearance of the plants.

I'm including two photos: one is of Mountain Laurel in a natural habitat, the other in an un-natural habitat.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

More Planting Questions

Do I need to cover my Habiturf planting with straw?
March 02, 2012 - I'm preparing to seed the Habiturf in my front yard in a couple of weeks. My dad has suggested I spread some straw to help protect the seeds. Your thoughts? Thanks!!!
view the full question and answer

Planting and care of Desert Willow in Golden Valley, AZ.
May 17, 2013 - I got a desert willow to plant in yard. Some of the leaves dried out before I could plant. Will that stop the tree from growing into a decent size tree or stay as a shrub?
view the full question and answer

Installing limestone walkway around trees from Pflugerville TX
June 28, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants:I wish to install a limestone walkway in my front yard, however, there are some roots(~ 1.25 inch) in the designated area. Will this hurt or kill the tree if I cut these away? T...
view the full question and answer

Damage to native elm in Texas
August 20, 2008 - We had a major landscape renovation done over the winter. One of the trees, an elm about 10 yrs old, remained in the bed although plants around it were removed. The tree has suddenly started turning...
view the full question and answer

Need options for smaller trees in neighborhoods in Austin, TX.
May 25, 2012 - Please discuss smaller tree options for typical Austin neighborhood yards. These houses are built close together on the sides, and only have smallish back yards. They just don't have space for big 50...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center