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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - June 15, 2006

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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.

 

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