Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - February 10, 2013

From: Ft Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Planting, Trees
Title: Tree roots under concrete from Ft. Worth TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We bought a house that has 2 trees (I believe ornamental pear trees) within a concrete patio. I found info that said basically, remove the concrete. We can't do that now (although I have encouraged some cracks), so what steps can we take to ensure these trees stay healthy? One tree's drip line is mostly covered, the other tree about 1/2 the drip line is covered. Both trees have very little exposed soil at the root ball.

ANSWER:

Well, at least you don't have to take the blame for this goof-up; the original owners get the prize for not investigating what roots needed to survive.

Please read this previous Smarty Plants question which deals with tree roots under foundations or concrete. It can't possibly be good for the tree or the patio to have the situation you describe. You can't ensure the trees stay safe, although if they are vigorous enough and the roots go out far enough to where the gas exchanges and moisture access are better. Line of least resistance, you can always let what happens happen. Either the tree roots will break through the concrete, thus ruining the patio, or the trees will begin to suffer, and ultimately die.

The pear is native to coastal and mildly temperate regions of the Old World, from western Europe and north Africa east right across Asia. Since at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we recommend only plants native to North America as well as to the area in which they are being grown (in this case, Tarrant County), we don't know much about the cultivation of the pear, but we can bet it's pretty close to that of other trees, native or not. 

Your tree may very well be a Bradford Pear, which has been somewhat overused as an ornamental in recent years. If you follow the link above, you will learn they don't live very long anyway. Perhaps that will help you make your decision.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native, care for Jade plant.
June 22, 2009 - I've had a jade plant for 5 years and it has done well, even though it was in a plastic pot with regular soil. I need to repot it and it was recommended I use a clay pot and a soil made for succulen...
view the full question and answer

Japanese Wineberry in Maryland
July 16, 2014 - Hello, we were at Cunningham Falls in Maryland and I can not identify this plant. If you could I would greatly appreciate it, thank you. It looks like a raspberry but the berries are inside small leav...
view the full question and answer

Getting Rid of Firecracker Flower
July 16, 2015 - We live in the Tampa area of Florida. We planted Russelia equisetiformis under some palm trees 10 years ago. It has grown deep among the palm tree roots. We want to kill the Russelia without harming ...
view the full question and answer

Red pods on Canna Lilies from Windsor VA
July 21, 2013 - What are the dark red pods on my canna lilies?
view the full question and answer

Winterizing non-native sedum in Saskatchewan CA
October 31, 2011 - What should be done to winterize a autumn joy (sedum)?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.