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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.

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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.

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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!

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Saturday - May 11, 2013

From: san antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Selecting a tree for a backyard in San Antonio, TX
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Hello Mr. Smarty Plants, I recently moved into a home in West San Antonio right outside Loop 1604..my treeless backyard is fairly small at about 55 ft long and 15 ft wide. I am torn because I can't go w/something big like a red oak or even cedar elm but I'm sure a lacey oak will do fine on one side of the yard but I'm looking for something very similar in size for the other side. We are going to fill in the other areas of the yard w hill country type plants/trees (lantana, salvia, mt laurel). Any ideas..

ANSWER:

There are two tools that you can use to help you select a tree for your yard (we’re talking about native plants here).

The first is the Recommended Species Page in our Native Plants Database . To start, click on “View Recommended Species Page”.  Clicking on Central Texas on the map will bring up a list of 156 commercially available native plant species suitable for planned landscapes in Central Texas. Since we are interested in trees for now, go to the Narrow your Search Box of the right side of the screen and make the following selections; select Texas under State, tree under General Appearance, and perennial under Lifespan. Check Sun under Light Requirement, Dry under Soil Moisture, and 12-36 under Height. Click the Narrow your Search button and your list shrinks to 13 trees. Clicking on the scientific name of the tree will bring up its NPIN page which contains a description of the plant along with growth characteristics and requirements and in most cases photos. You can also use the Database to look for wildflowers, and shrubs.

The second tool is the Texas Tree Planting Guide from the Texas A&M Forest Service. It is an interactive guide that has lots of information, and is fun to use. It not only has the “Express Tree Selector” and “Custom Tree Selector” to help with tree selection, but the Tree Planting & Care section gives information to help you buy, plant, and care for your new tree.

I think that using the two tools in combination will allow you to select a great tree for your back yard.

 

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