Explore Plants

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
    
 

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 red oak
Quercus buckleyi

Bigtooth maple
Acer grandidentatum

Desert willow
Chilopsis linearis

More Planting Questions

Planting bluebonnets on UT Campus in Austin
January 07, 2012 - Hello! I am with a student organization on the University of Texas campus. Walking around campus, I have noticed the lack of the state flower of Texas, the bluebonnet. Our organization is hoping ...
view the full question and answer

When is the best time to transplant Esperanza bushe in Buda, TX?
September 04, 2013 - When is the best time to transplant an Esperanza bush? I want to move it because it is overwhelming my front yard. Thank you,
view the full question and answer

Watering needs for a new landscape
October 11, 2008 - How much and how frequently are you supposed to water after implementing a new landscape? For example, perennials and succulents that are drought tolerant.
view the full question and answer

Leaves on new water oak turning brown from Matagorda TX
May 30, 2013 - We had water oaks planted in January when they had no leaves. Leaves came on but are now turning brown.
view the full question and answer

Buffaloberry from Grandma
June 25, 2008 - I have a "BUFFALO BERRY" that my Grandma brought back from South Dakota.It is approx.8yrs.old.All was well until this spring.It was budding out when we had a very hard freeze and got 3" of snow.Now...
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.