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 Trees Questions

Removing a non-native windmill palm from Austin
February 27, 2013 - I have a fairly good size windmill palm (about 15ft high) that is planted too close to the house. I also don't like having to constantly remove its fronds as they block a walkway. Is there a good wa...
view the full question and answer

Growing pecan and fruit trees near Canyon Lake, Texas
July 07, 2014 - I just bought a property on the north side of Canyon Lake in the Hill Country of Texas. Most of the trees around are cedar, and a few live oak. I know I have seen beautiful Pecan trees as well as seve...
view the full question and answer

Differentiating between Iles decidua and Ilex vomitoria
February 15, 2007 - Is there any way to tell a male possum haw holly from a female? I have a possum haw that never lost all of it's leaves and has no berries. Could it be a male?
view the full question and answer

Landscaping in Bertram TX
September 25, 2009 - I have a landscaping job in Bertram, Texas and am looking for all my options as far as full and partial shade somewhat hardy plants. I'm mainly looking for small plants and pretty flowers I can do wi...
view the full question and answer

Distinguishing elm species from volunteers in yard
April 10, 2008 - What's the best way to distinguish young elm tree species apart from one another? We have a bunch coming up in our yard and we're trying to figure out if they are Winged, Cedar or American. Some of ...
view the full question and answer

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