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

Fertilizer burns on non-native St. Augustine grass
September 07, 2009 - We put summer guard fertilizer on our lush St. Augustine grass and it didn't get watered in after application. As a result we have burned the yard badly in patches. What can we do to correct proble...
view the full question and answer

Can bougainvillea be grown in Las Cruces, NM?
May 05, 2010 - Can bougainvillea be grown in Las Cruces, NM?
view the full question and answer

Thorns on non-native orange trees in Greenwell Springs, LA
April 26, 2009 - Navel orange tree has thorns, why is this?
view the full question and answer

A cactus-like plant with stinky flowers
July 22, 2013 - Because of the green parts looking like certain cacti, a friend insists that this plant she saw in Mexico is one. Its blossom doesn't have the rose-like structure that cacti have, but resembles the ...
view the full question and answer

Bermuda, not the only option in Memphis
November 04, 2014 - I'm building an energy efficient home in Memphis and want to extend that strategy to the landscaping. I'd like to plant native grasses, but this lot is surrounded by lots sodded with Bermuda grass....
view the full question and answer

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