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Tuesday - May 10, 2011

From: Burnet, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Low water use tree to shade pond in Burnet TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I'm in need of some shade at a 1/2 acre pond, but I don't want a tree to consume so much water that it will lower the water level. During droughts the little pond needs all the water it can get. Someone said that bald cypress trees would use alot of water and lower the level. What are your thoughts?

ANSWER:

The first thing we did was look at our webpage on Taxodium distichum (Bald cypress) to see what it said. You can follow the link and do the same. On that page, it was noted that the tree has medium water demands, can grow in sun or part shade, and likes moist soil but can adapt to semi-dry conditions. Apparently one of the advantages of this tree is that it can survive and even flourish in an area which has periodic flooding and then dry spells.

Having found out what benefits the tree, we still could not get any concrete information on how the tree affected neighboring water features, so we next went to the Internet to see if we might find some indications on that subject. From a USDA Forest Service article on the Bald Cypress, we picked up on this quotation:

"Riverine swamps of baldcypress cause floodwaters to spread out, slow down, and infiltrate the soil. Thus, these stands reduce damage from floods and act as sediment and pollutant traps."

You should read this whole article and see if it gives you any indicators that we missed. Our take on the quotation was that it would be beneficial to have this tree in an area that can get periodically flooded and then lose a great deal of water as it washes away, which would seem to justify the tree as a water retention tool.

By going to the bottom of our webpage on this tree, you can find a link to Google on it; we did this and found several other articles about the tree, all recommending it as a very good tree, but slow-growing, that could get very large and very old. Nowhere did we find any indication that it would slurp the water away from the pond. Of course, it needs water, all plants do, but if it is growing in its natural habitat, then it is adapted to that habitat, and probably won't harm it. We do want to remind you that this is not a good time to be planting trees in Central Texas. Late Fall or Winter would be much better. A tree planted now, in the heat and drought we are experiencing, could very well be a victim of transplant shock, and either die or have its growth severely inhibited.

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