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

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

Fruit trees non-toxic to dogs that will grow in Killeen TX
April 15, 2010 - I live in Central Texas and I'd like to know if there is any fruit tree that is non toxic to dogs that will grow well in my area. My dog eats everything in sight. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Repairing damage to Anacacho Orchid Tree in Austin
April 30, 2008 - Hi You Guys!! We have an understory Anacacho Orchid Tree in the front and my sweetie was trimming the big oak and dropped a branch down, splitting one of the large branches off the Anacacho. The wou...
view the full question and answer

Lightning protection of smooth bark cypress
October 05, 2008 - I have been told that the smooth bark cypress stores a large amount of water at its base and if lightning strikes, it will explode and extinguish the flames. Could you tell me if this is a myth? I'...
view the full question and answer

Viability of Texas Mountain Laurel in Louisiana
March 19, 2008 - I just returned from a visit to Austin and I saw the Texas Mountain Laurel everywhere. I live in the Baton Rouge, LA area and would like to know if performing some soil amendments would allow me to gr...
view the full question and answer

Looking for non-native Chinese Pistache tree
April 23, 2015 - Where in the Austin area would be a good place to find a nice sized Chinese Pistache to plant in my yard?
view the full question and answer

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