En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
2 ratings

Thursday - June 15, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Fast growing native trees for Austin
Answered by: Dean Garrett


What are your suggestions for a fast growing native tree that will do well in the clay soils of North Central Austin? I just had a 30 foot hackberry tree fall and would like to restore some shade to my backyard. I am not able to dig a very large hole to plant the tree, so would like to find a tree that either grows fast or has a smaller root ball so I can plant it. Would also like one that provides good shade without killing St. Augustine grass under the canopy.


Four relatively fast-growing, clay-adapted trees native to your area are:

Texas Ash (Fraxinus albicans)
Escarpment Live Oak (Quercus fusiformis)
Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Cedar Elm (Ulmus crassifolia)

Of these, the ash was mentioned most often as being relatively fast-growing in the books I looked at. The oaks would cast denser shade than the others, but I've seen St. Augustine growing right up to the trunks of live oaks so that might not be a problem. All should be available at local nurseries.


More Trees Questions

Will the sea water from Hurricane Ike residually affect Galveston's soil
December 06, 2009 - Most of the trees on Galveston Island died following Hurricane Ike, apparently as a result of the sea water that covered the island. Will the sea water that soaked the soil have a residual effect on...
view the full question and answer

Healthy black walnut trees from volunteer saplings
May 07, 2008 - We just purchased a piece of property in the Texas Hill Country. There is a stump of a large black walnut tree that has four healthy looking samplings shooting up. Each is about 10 feet high. The o...
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant plants for under cedar and oak trees in Austin
June 22, 2010 - I have about 1.5 acres in southern Travis county. It's full of mature live oaks and cedar trees, and the soil is full of limestone. I've been gathering the limestone and using them to create raise...
view the full question and answer

Native species of tree for Rockwall TX
March 19, 2014 - Hello, I am attempting to plant a native species of tree 20 miles east of Dallas, Texas (Rockwall, TX) in honor of my brother's marriage. He is a biologist and a huge supporter of native species....
view the full question and answer

Watering a Montezuma Cypress in Spring Branch, TX
July 11, 2013 - Live near San Antonio, and have a Montesuma Cypress, 15 ft tall. Great soil. Planted in April, should I keep it moist??? The foliage is getting brown.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center