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
4 ratings

Tuesday - April 26, 2011

From: The Woodlands, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Shade tree with non-aggressive roots for next to pool in The Woodlands TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi Mr. Smarty Plants. We live in Spring, TX and are looking for a full-sun shade tree to plant in a large planter (about 6'x6') next to our pool. We want the tree to provide shade for our full afternoon sunny back yard, but also do not want an aggressive root system to damage the pool. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you, Kendra

ANSWER:

We don't want to be flip, but have you considered a large umbrella?

Roots of trees generally extend at least as far out as the shadow of the canopy of the tree. This area is referred to as the Protected Root Zone (PRZ). While a tree and its rootball would probably initially fit into your 6' x 6' planter box, the roots will quickly grow beyond it.  Additionally, the roots of the tree have the potential to damage/crack any concrete they encounter as they grow trying to reach water and oxygen.

We are frequently asked for "taproot trees," on the assumption that a root that grows straight down will not interfere with concrete walks, driveways, sidewalks and foundations. Alas, some trees do begin with a taproot but there are few trees with a true taproot; as time goes by roots will spread from that center root, both in search of water and nutrients and also as a base to stabilize the tree in the ground. A tree tall enough, and with comparable width to provide shade for your patio is going to have roots extending far beyond the initial planter, if either the tree or the pool survive the planting there. A tree big enough to cast shade, say, 20 ft. tall, will usually have about the same spread-20' wide. The roots beneath that tree will normally spread out from two to three times farther than the crown.

There are shrubs that might fit into that 6x6 space and not interfere with your pool, but they will not get big enough to cast appreciable shade.

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Butterfly garden plants for partial shade in Georgia
August 14, 2009 - I have a patio that is brick with 2 small areas for planting. The area has partial shade and soil is moist and looks dense. Currently there is an Ivy Bush in the back left corner which I like and ha...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover to prevent erosion in Florida
November 04, 2012 - I live on a hill and put in a new side driveway and now I am seeing erosion along the driveway and can see the bottom of my concrete. Grass won't grow because its all shaded. What would be the best g...
view the full question and answer

Part shade garden to attract hummingbirds in Texas
July 14, 2008 - We are inexperienced gardeners. We have a bed (2.5' x 6') with sun in the morning and shade in afternoon and want to attract hummingbirds. Salvia coccinea sounds easy, but what else could we plant...
view the full question and answer

Plants for xeriscape and shade
August 20, 2008 - I live in Jones county, Texas. I would like to xeriscape portions of my lawn. The soil is sandy, I have a lot of shaded lawn area. What plants do you recommend that would be low maintenace, low water ...
view the full question and answer

Shade trees for horses in Merced, CA
January 21, 2011 - I would like to plant some trees to provide shade for horses in the pasture. What native trees are drought resistant (water may be spotty in the summer) yet safe for the animals? I live in the Calif...
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