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

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 Planting Questions

Starting shade-tolerant ground covers in New York
September 10, 2013 - Hi, I have seen some of the posts for shade-tolerant ground cover on the east end of Long Island and my question is process related. Now that I've identified the grasses/plants I need to keep my fro...
view the full question and answer

Need replacements for old arborvitaes destroyed by snow and ice in Reisterstown, MD.
February 07, 2011 - Our big old arborvitaes have been destroyed by snow and ice. Rather than a fence we would like to use plants/bushes for privacy. We live in zip 21136. This would extend all across the back property l...
view the full question and answer

Taproot tree to replace willows by pool
June 23, 2008 - Installing Pool with bomanite decking all around it. We're in process of cutting down 18 year old Weeping Willow due to root invasiveness and small messy leaves. Can you recommend a good shade tree w...
view the full question and answer

A Native Tree for Ardmore PA
January 15, 2014 - I am looking to plant a native tree in my back yard. The yard is small and gets mostly afternoon sun. Thank you
view the full question and answer

Need fast growing deciduous trees for Austin, TX
February 14, 2015 - We'd like to plant several fast growing deciduous trees in a full sun yard with a hard alkaline soil in the western edge of Travis Heights in South Austin. I've noted several locations in our neighb...
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