En Español

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

Friday - March 08, 2013

From: Washington, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: Rain Gardens, Trees
Title: Rain garden for Washington MO
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a 40' tall bald cypress at the bottom right corner of my sloped yard (slopes from 2 sides, has 3 gutter runoffs directed towards it from 50-70' away). Can I put a series of retaining walls up hill and around tree to act as a rain garden so my lower neighbors don't receive all of my runoff. There is about 8' down slope and 10' to side property lines.

ANSWER:

Whoa! We are gardeners, not civil engineers.  We can't even visualize a series of retaining walls up a hill. We would probably be more concerned with the effects of the walls on existing or planned vegetation than anything else. But, since we do not have the perfect answer on the tip of our tongues, here is an article Retaining Wall Design: How to Manage Water

Again, not quite knowing what the situation is, we do most heartily agree with the idea of a rain garden to retain and utilize some of the rainwater. If the Taxodium distichum (Bald cypress) is in the area that will be receiving the runoff, it is a perfect choice. Its roots are nearly impervious to suffocation, and you can see from the first picture below that the roots can very happily stand in water.

Since we really hate not being able to answer your specific question, here are a couple of articles that should be more help than we are:

From Grow Green (Austin TX)  Earthwise Guide to Rain Gardens

From the University of Wisconsin Extension Rain Gardens A How-To Manual for Gardeners

 

From the Image Gallery


Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

More Trees Questions

Deciduous shade tree for Inland California dry hills
July 26, 2011 - What type of tree would work well in our back yard? We're looking for a deciduous tree that doesn't grow too tall, maybe 20'. We'd like it to have spreading branches to provide shade during the su...
view the full question and answer

Pruning mature cedar elm trees in San Antonio
September 14, 2008 - When is the right time to prune my several mature cedar elm trees? I'm in San Antonio, and they have never been trimmed in the 55 years we have lived in this home. I have several that are at least 7...
view the full question and answer

Are Mesquite (Prosopis) pods safe for dogs to eat?
June 15, 2009 - are pods from mesquite trees posionus to dogs if they chew or eat them?
view the full question and answer

Fast growing tree for pasture in Coolidge, Texas
August 03, 2009 - Hello, we purchased some land around Coolidge Tx., it has NO trees on it. This is open pasture land, can you suggest a fairly fast growing tree for shade? And if you know can you give us some names ...
view the full question and answer

Flowering problems with Mexican Plum and Mimosa in Austin, TX
March 18, 2010 - Greetings, My Prunus mexicana (Mexican Plum) did not produce flowers before its leaves. Can you tell me why? I was hoping to have some fruit this year. Also, as of this morning March 13. My...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center