Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

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

Horse ate bark of cedar elm from Liberty Hill, TX
February 20, 2013 - I have three acres with a rental. Planted a Cedar Elm near the porch. My ex-renters allowed their horse to graze around the house. It ate the bark off of the tree. How can I save this tree?
view the full question and answer

Distance from wall to plant Eastern red cedar
September 26, 2008 - I want to plant a row of Eastern red cedar on the high side of a 2 to 2 1/2 ft large Pavestone block retaining wall, preferably as close to the wall as possible. We have put maybe 4-5" of gravel beh...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting time for Smoketree in Quebec
September 14, 2006 - I would like to transplant my smoke tree. It is two years old. When would be the best time of the year to transplant. I live in Zone 4.
view the full question and answer

Over-trimmed junipers in Shell Beach CA
May 16, 2010 - Help! My husband decided to "trim" the juniper bushes that are in front of our house that create a great private front yard. I guess he cut back into the dead wood and now nothing is regrowing. It'...
view the full question and answer

Determining gender of Texas Hill Country native trees
August 22, 2006 - How can I identify which (Tx Hill Country) native trees are separate male & female? Specifically Tx Pistache and American Smoke Tree. Do I have to wait until they flower and inspect the flower for c...
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.