En EspaŅol

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?


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
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 - May 31, 2013

From: Las Vegas, NV
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Would like a small tree for yard in Las Vegas, NV.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


would like a small tree with root system that grows down not spread on surface. Had raywood and medesto ash tree both died of desease. Diagnosed by arborist. Stated that these trees to big for my yard. Both of these tree root system was surface oriented rather the roots system that grows downward and can survive in Las Vegas, Nevada


Both of the trees you had are well known for root problems. Did your arborist have any suggestions about a replacement tree?

One piece of information that would have been helpful is the size of your yard.  A tree planting guide from the Texas Forest Service  recommends that you plan on a space in your yard of 60 sq. ft. for a small tree, 120 sq.ft.for a medium tree, and 180 sq.ft. for a large tree. A small tree is up to 20 ft. tall, a medium tree is 20 to 40 ft. tall, and a large tree is 40 ft. or more.  The “Tree Planting Tools” section of the guide has good information about selecting, planting, and caring for your new tree.

Let’s look at some possibilities, but before we do that, we have a word from our sponsor: the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is  to increase the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America, but to the area in which they are being grown.

Let me introduce you to our Native Plant Database where you can explore 7,415 native plants by scientific or common name. Scroll down to the Combination Search box, and select Nevada under State, tree under Habit, and perennial under Duration. Check Sun under Light requirement and dry under Soil moisture, and 12 - 36 ft.under Height. Click the Submit Combination Search button, and you will get a list of 8 native species of trees. Click on the scientific name of each plant and its NPIN page will appear which contains information about growth characteristics and requirements. A choice that didn’t appear in the list isChilopsis linearis (Desert willow).

This list from your National Public Radio  station has some interesting choices. Be aware that Norm has some non-natives included.

This article from the Southern Nevada Water Authority  addresses some of your concerns about root systems in trees.


More Planting Questions

Ground cover for sun in Phenix City, AL
April 04, 2011 - I live in Phenix City, AL and am new to planting. I have a 60 x 15 feet slope that is just dirt. I am going to till it next week and want to plant some various ground cover plants (that will grow to c...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping from Wilmington NC
December 22, 2012 - I plan on moving to Belmont NC in the next couple of years and settling down with my future wife in her home town. I am a huge do it yourself person. I love to make things from scratch, including buil...
view the full question and answer

When can native wildflower mix seeds be planted from Rosenberg TX
May 30, 2012 - I received a package of "All Native Wildflower Mix". The package says plant in Spring. Is too late to plant now or should I wait for next March?
view the full question and answer

Finding a source of Straggler daisy
October 14, 2015 - I've decided on Straggler daisy but am having trouble finding it. It would be perfect for me. Do I have to wait until next Spring for it to show up? Can it be ordered through a nursery or a landscape...
view the full question and answer

Shallow topsoil on rocky substrate in SW Oregon
April 28, 2009 - I want to plants some shrubs and trees. Trouble is I can't plant very deep. I have mostly rock within 5 inches. Please help.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center