En Español

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
1 rating

Friday - October 25, 2013

From: austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Medium-sized trees for Central Texas
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I need some help figuring out what 2 trees to plant to replace 2 trees that are being taken down on Monday. The input we've received from the company doing the tree cleanup is to go with a chinkapin or monterrey oak as replacements, but when looking at these, they look much too large. The front yard is losing an ash. The space it takes up now is not that large (1/2 of a standard suburban front yard). It shares space with a burr oak, which has grown quite large. In the back - a bigger yard for sure - we have lacebark elm that is absolutely huge and is taking over. The one that's coming out is a very tall ornamental pear - it's very tall, but not too wide. We need something similarly shaped. What would be your recommendations? Thank you SO much!!

ANSWER:

You are wise to concern yourself over the possible long-term problems of shade trees too closely spaced.  There is a very good tree guide published by the City of Austin.  It provides information on the mature size of various common trees and will be a great help in choosing replacement trees.  Further information on tree species you consider can be found by entering each tree's name in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Plant Database.  This latter source sometimes gives a slightly different estimate of mature sizes.

One possibility would be replacing you ash with another ash, namely Fraxinus albicans (Texas ash).  Or, if you wish trees that will pretty much fill the canopy space, consider Quercus buckleyi (Texas red oak), Ulmus crassifolia (Cedar elm) or Acer grandidentatum (Bigtooth maple). The maple is becoming more popular, especially if your setting is somewhat moist. But rumor has it that the maple does not like city mains water, so placement where rainwater can occasionally soak the ground is desirable.  A smaller oak like the Quercus laceyi (Lacey oak) would give you more open space.  Two even smaller trees, Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud) or Chilopsis linearis (Desert willow) cast a thinner shade if that is desirable.

Many of the tree species shown on the City of Austin guide are available from local plant nurseries.  The best time for planting is winter, when leaves have dropped and water requirement is minimal.  Our web site has a good guide for tree planting.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas ash
Fraxinus albicans

Texas red oak
Quercus buckleyi

Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

Bigtooth maple
Acer grandidentatum

Lacey oak
Quercus laceyi

Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

More Planting Questions

native plants for landscaping in Honolulu
January 08, 2012 - Hi, wildflower.org has been a great help for me in learning about different plants, their Latin names and characteristics. I was looking for a list of plants (trees, shrubs, ground covers, perennials...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for under a black walnut from Lansing MI
October 04, 2012 - What native plants can you recommend that will grow in Michigan under a mature black walnut tree?
view the full question and answer

Drought resistant small tree for Ft. Worth TX
May 22, 2013 - I am looking for suggestions for a small tree (no more than 25 feet max)that is drought resistant but can handle a little irrigation and a lot of wind. Something showy is a plus. Grouped with salvias ...
view the full question and answer

Removal of burned tree stump from Weir TX
September 24, 2012 - Hello, I am the community manager for Country Glen, LLC In Weir, Texas 5 miles north east of Georgetown Texas. Simple question I need to remove a large Arizona Ash that was burned buy fire I need th...
view the full question and answer

Too late to begin planting in May in Austin?
April 30, 2008 - Is it too late to begin planting in May? I live in Austin Texas and have finally completed my plans for a native Texas landscaping (plants and grass) of my front yard. I'd like to get the landscapi...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center