En EspaŅol

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?

Share

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - June 29, 2012

From: Frisco, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Tree species for a small yard
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I have a small front yard area. Maybe 10' x 15'. It is also elevated. There is a retaining wall about 4 feet high. The builders planted a live oak! I think it is a nightmare waiting to happen as it matures. I would like a smaller tree, to fit in that size yard, that will not tear the wall down 10 years down the road. I have looked at crepe myrtles, and choke cherries. Am I going in the right direction? Are there any others I should consider? Additionally the parkway area between the sidewalk and street. Maybe 5 feet wide. They planted live oaks there as well. I love trees, but it just seems like bad choices for small areas. I am in zone 8a. Help!

ANSWER:

You are wise to be concerned about tree size and possible damage to retaining walls.  Crepe myrtle (non-native) and Prunus virginiana (Chokecherry) are good bets.  To view a larger number of possible replacement trees check the Texas Tree Selector web site.  Native trees are recommended because of their ability to withstand the Texas climate.  This site does not give information on root encroachment, but some useful data on that point will be found at a site dealing with street trees.  As a general rule, trees will extend at least small roots out to about the outer drip line of the foliage.  Additional information on any of the native trees, including images, can be found by typing the common or botanical name into the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Database.

This is certainly not an ideal season for planting trees.  You would be advised to wait for cooler weather in the fall or winter.  By checking the list of plant suppliers in your neighborhood on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center web site you should find a source of suitable trees.

 

More Trees Questions

Striped caterpillars on Cornus sericea (redtwig dogwood)
September 07, 2011 - My red-twig dogwood has white/black striped caterpillars that congregate on the underside of the leaves and they are stripping the leaves. What can I do? They almost look like Monarch butterfly larvae...
view the full question and answer

Recently planted Monterey Oaks doing poorly in Jourdanton, TX.
September 02, 2013 - We planted 2 nice size Monterrey oak trees in April .they were doing good with new growth on them. But now I have been noticing the leaves are turning brown around the edges. We water about once a wee...
view the full question and answer

Red oaks that didn't drop leaves in Austin
April 04, 2012 - I have a number of Red Oaks on land that did not drop leaves this past fall. Now these same trees seem to be dead? It seems there's some type of mold/fungus on the trees. Some trees have small patche...
view the full question and answer

California plants poisonous to dogs from Sacramento
July 01, 2012 - Found dodonea viscosa purple. Is it poisonous to dogs? Also Gold Star Potentilla. Going drought tolerant and need small trees, shrubs and plants not poisonous to dogs for sun and partial sun.
view the full question and answer

Gardening advice for Quebec
April 15, 2011 - I live in Aylmer Quebec 1. I bought some lily bulbs at a Christmas bazaar. When can I plant them and what do I put in the hole with the bulbs? 2. I bought a little potted cedar at COSTCO for a Ch...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center