En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Medium-sized trees for Central Texas

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
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 Trees Questions

Live oaks lifting up sidewalks in Palm Coast FL
December 12, 2013 - My live oak trees roots are lifting up my side walks. Can I cut just the roots that are causing the problem without hurting the trees? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Understory trees for large trees in Austin
October 18, 2010 - I'm blessed with some beautiful large live oaks, burr oaks, and cedar elms in my front yard in southwest Austin. I'd like to plant some understory trees among them. The trees would get dappled lig...
view the full question and answer

Oak saplings in Boerne TX
August 02, 2010 - Is there anything I can do to kill the oak tree saplings that come up around my oak tree? I have a nice raised flower bed around the tree and now it's full of these saplings. Thanks for your help...
view the full question and answer

Texas native peach from Elmendorf TX
January 30, 2013 - Does Texas have a native peach tree that grows wild?
view the full question and answer

Planting Anacacho orchid tree in Llano, TX
October 05, 2011 - Re Bauhinia lunarioides: I'm trying to pick a good site in Llano Co for a 5 gal tree I received as a gift. Your plant database says part shade. The arid zone trees publication you reference in a...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center