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

Monday - September 24, 2012

From: LAS CRUCES, NM
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Need a shade tree for an enclosed courtyard in Las Cruces, NM
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I HAVE A WEST FACING COURTYARD ENCLOSED WITH A 6' STUCCO WALL AND I WANT TO ADD A SHADE TREE. CURRENTLY HAVE SEVERAL MESQUITE TREES, DESERT WILLOW, CHINESE PISTACHE & VITEX TREES IN THE FRONT AREA OUTSIDE THE COURTYARD. COURTYARD CURRENTLY HAS A CREPE MYRTLE, 3 HEAVENLY BAMBO AND A COUPLE OF SMALL SHRUBS.

ANSWER:

You didn’t mention the size of your courtyard, and based on the inventory of existing plants that you gave, I think that I should mention that the mission of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes. Both of these factors would influence Mr. Smarty Plants’  recommendations.

Let’s address tree placement and spacing first. The Texas Tree Planting Guide that is produced by the Texas Forest Service is just full of information about planting trees. A particularly useful feature  is the Tree Planting Tools . The  articles “How Big Your Tree Will Grow”, and “Planning Your Available Space” should be useful. This link to City of Houston Parks and Recreation Dept. also deals with spacing problems (scroll down to WHERE TO PLANT.

As for tree selection, I’m including two links to two guides from the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service: “Shade Trees for New Mexico”  has tips about tree selection and planting, and tree care. It contains a list of trees with both scientific name and common names. It also has information about water use, allergy potential, growing zone selection and planting criteria, potential problems, and height. The other guide, “Selecting Ornamental Trees for New Mexico” has a similar format, but the list of trees is longer.

Another tool to use for tree selection is our NPIN Database . Scroll down to the Combination Search Box and make the following selections; select New Mexico under State,  tree under Habit, and perennial under Duration. Check sun under Light requirement and dry under Soil moisture. Click on the Submit Combination Search button, and you will get a  list of 48 native trees for New Mexico landscapes. Clicking  on the scientific name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page which contains a description of the plant, its growth characteristics and requirements, and in most cases images.

Another way you can use the database is to get more descriptive information and images of plants that you find in the NMSU guides. Type the name of a plant from the guides in the appropriate space in the green box labeled Search Native Plant Database and click the go button. This will bring up the NPIN page for that plant.

With a perseverance, you should be able to come up with the perfect plant for your court yard. For some help closer to home, you might contact the folks at the Dona Ana County office of NMSU Cooperative Extension.

 

More Trees Questions

What is eating the leaves of my oak tree in Cedar Park, TX?
May 25, 2010 - This one has a couple of arborists stumped. I have clusters of small, light-colored worms on the leaves of an oak tree, but no tents or webs. They are eating the chlorophyll in the leaves, leaving th...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a redbud in Boerne TX
August 29, 2012 - Hi there, My question is when is it safe to transplant a native tree? I have a redbud tree come up in m flower bed I want to try to transplant it instead of cutting it out. It is very young - maybe 4-...
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Canary Date Palms from Miami FL
December 06, 2011 - Hi: The fronts of my canary date palm, which I planted about 6 years ago, has been getting brown from the bottom of the tree and working itself towards the top for the past several months now. The b...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for wildlife habitat in West Virginia
February 05, 2008 - We live in the southern region of Summers County in West Virginia. Our yard has a lot of shell and small rocks in it; it is in direct sun light. I would love to have a welcoming hummingbird, butterfly...
view the full question and answer

Windbreak for Eastern Kansas
July 17, 2011 - I need to plant a fast growing windbreak near my lateral lines for a septic tank. We obviously can't have anything that would interfere with the laterals but I desperately need a North wind break. ...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center