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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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Monday - April 16, 2012

From: Katy, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Privacy Screening, Trees
Title: Small trees for property edge in Katy TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

By deed restriction, I must have five trees on the side of my small suburban lot just west of Houston, TX. Due to the lot layout, the trunks are only about 8-10 feet from the house, with the trees about 15 feet from each other. I get concerned about the trees, both due to branches hanging over the roof, and potential for the roots to grow under the foundation. Would trees with a smaller radius canopy be of use in this situation? If so, do you have any recommendations for this area of the country?

ANSWER:

Indeed, you are very wise to be making those considerations. We will provide you with a list of small trees and/or shrubs that can be trained into small trees. They will provide a privacy screen or line, as required in your deed restrictions, but not cause trouble for your foundation or roof. If the restrictions allow it, we recommend that you wait until Winter to plant your trees. Trees planted in the heat of summer often succumb to transplant shock, which kills more trees than just about any disease. If you have no choice but to plant the trees now, do it as soon as possible. Planting early in the morning or late in the day will cut down on the heat and sun shock. Make sure the hole is well-prepared and mix in some good-quality shredded bark compost to provide for adequate drainage. Do not fertilize. Native plants, which is all we recommend, need no fertilizer and adding fertilizer to tree roots in shock, which newly-planted trees in Summer will be, can only add to their problems. Water by sticking a hose down in the soil around the tree, allowing the hose to drip very slowly until water appears on the surface. If it is not raining, do this about twice a week while it is so hot. Even if you plant them in Winter, the new roots will still need that gentle trickle of water, just not so often.

We would like to direct you to our Recommended Species for the Gulf Marshes and Prairies of Texas. Please read the paragraph at the top of that page to understand the soils you have and the need for correct drainage. We are going to use the sidebar on the right-hand side of that page to select on trees, and also to specify a mature size range. You can go through the same procedure and select plants that better suit you for your purpose. We have checked each of these to make sure they will grow in your area. Follow each plant link to learn about its height, blooms, water and sunlight needs, etc.

Small Trees for Katy TX:

Aesculus pavia var. pavia (Scarlet buckeye)

Cornus drummondii (Roughleaf dogwood)

Halesia diptera (Two-wing silverbell)

Ilex opaca (American holly)

Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum)

Viburnum rufidulum (Rusty blackhaw viburnum)

 

From the Image Gallery


Scarlet buckeye
Aesculus pavia var. pavia

Roughleaf dogwood
Cornus drummondii

Two-wing silverbell
Halesia diptera

American holly
Ilex opaca

Mexican plum
Prunus mexicana

Rusty blackhaw viburnum
Viburnum rufidulum

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