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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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Wednesday - January 23, 2013

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Need suggestion for a replacement tree in Dallas, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

We are going to have a 25' tall tree removed and ground out because every year squirrels chew the branches and make huge piles on the deck and into the pool. This continues for a good month 1.5. Hence, we would like to replace the tree with another tall 20-25' non deciduous (if possible)tree. This tree will be next to a pool on a slope with good drainage. We entertained a Red Bud which appears to be a good size with good colors however the draw back is that it is deciduous. Is there a non-deciduous alternative that you would recommend.

ANSWER:

You didn’t tell me what kind of tree you are removing, but it seems a shame to cut down a 25‘ tree because of a bunch of unruly squirrels. I’m assuming you realize that you won’t have a 25’ tree in that location for several years. The Red Bud can be a handsome tree with beautiful pink flowers in the Spring, but in adition to it being deciduous, it produces numerous seed pods that can be messy.

Lets begin with some terminology.
Deciduous vs non-deciduous (evergreen)

Deciduous trees loose all of their leaves for part of the year as part of the dormancy process. The tree doesn’t have to maintain the leaves during the harsh weather of winter, and it is saving energy for a growth spurt in the spring.

Non-deciduous trees have leaves or needles that stay on the plant through out all of the seasons. This does not mean that the needles or leaves never die or fall off. It means that when they do, they are replaced by new ones and the plant is never without greenery. These plants are also known as  evergreen plants. Semi-evergreen can refer to plants that loose most of their leaves in the fall or during dry periods, but still keep some of them. It can also refer to plants that keep all of their leaves into the winter and then loose them as compared to trees that loose their leaves in the fall.

To look for some plants, let me introduce you to our Native Plant Database . Scroll down to the Combination Search Box and make the following selections: select Texas under state, tree under Habit, and perennial under Duration. Check sun under Light requirement, dry under Soil moisture, Evergreen under Leaf Retention, and 12-36’ under Height. Click on the Submit Combination Search button, and you will get a  list of 8 native trees for Texas 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. As you check out each plant, you can note its size and other features. If you are concerned about a mess on your deck, pay attention to the kinds of flowers and fruits the tree has. You can redo the search and click Deciduous or Semi-evergreen and get different list.

For some help closer to home, I suggest the Dallas County Office of Texas AgriLife Extension for some recommendatioins.

Once you have selected your tree, this link and our "Step by Step Guides" have some good advice for planting a tree.

 

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