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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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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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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.

 

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December 26, 2010 - Greetings, Is it a good idea to allow oak leaves to pile up at the base of our California live oak? Will that cause fungus, mold and rot that hurts the tree? Thanks for your advice.
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January 26, 2012 - I live in Austin TX and have one particular native Oak tree in my back yard with a large bed around it. I don't plan on planting anything else in the bed since it is already nicely landscaped along ...
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