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Monday - May 23, 2011

From: Stuart, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native mango in pool area in Stuart FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford


We are landscaping a backyard and want to put in a pool. He wants to keep the huge mango tree that overhangs part of the pool area, I don't really care but would like to know what other fast growing shade tree would be recommended for a pool area in Stuart Fl in case we need to take it out. There are already lots of palms so we were are looking for more of a less messy but leafy tree like the mango.


Mangifera indica, mango tree, is native to Malaysia, India and Burma, and therefore falls out of our expertise. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are devoted to the principles of native gardening, because plants growing where they belong will need less fertilizer, water and pest control. However, in your case, we don't think any tree, native or otherwise, would be appropriate because of interference of the roots with the structure of the pool, as well as the material that would be shed by the tree into the pool.

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). It is probable that digging for the pool is going to damage the mango sufficiently that it won't survive anyway.  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 pool area, is going to have roots extending far beyond the initial area, 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.

Our suggestion is to start with the pool, if that is what you decide to do. If it is recommended that the mango come out, or that it will be damaged by the digging, don't consider replacing it with another tree until you see how the pool fits into your space. Once a tree is in the ground, when it begins to conflict with the hardscape, in this case the structure of the pool, then it will probably have to come out again. Save yourself the trouble.



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