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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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Sunday - July 13, 2014

From: Coquitlam, near Vancouver, BC
Region: Select Region
Topic: Shrubs, Trees
Title: Trees Planted Over Underground Parking Garage
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I live in an apartment complex. We have trees planted over an underground parking lot. I know the names of all the trees and I want to know how much soil they should be planted in to NOT cause damage to the garage. We have 14 Golden Locust 'Robina Frisia' (20' tap root ??) planted in soil that's 1 ft. deep. Will the roots break into the top of the garage? A Liquidambar (60' H X 40' W) planted 3 feet from an apartment. 12 Himalayan birch, Betula jacquemontii, 3 Cedrus deodora, 18 Picea omorika, 12 Pinus thunbergii, plus 11 more varieties, vine & red maple, Nootka False Cypress, 2 dogwood varieties, Dove tree, Magnolias, 31 flowering cherries, and 9 Snowbell. Is there a list of tree root habits that I can look up to see what trees need to be removed, if any? Thank you so much, Elaine (landscape rep.)

ANSWER:

It's wonderful that you are taking an active interest in the landscape plants around your apartment complex. Although many that you list are not natives, you have included a few natives that will be present in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Database. There are growth characteristics and cultural recommendations in the database that may help you with your search for tree root information.

For specific answers about the underground activity of the trees and the load bearing weight limits of the parking structure, it is advised to contact a landscape architect and a structural engineer in Coquitlam, B.C. that specialize in rooftop gardens. They would have the best knowledge to advise on your situation.

A book that will have some of the information you desire is "Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: A Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers" by Gary L. Hightshoe. It is quite good about giving specific information about each native plant.

 

From the Image Gallery


Sweetgum
Liquidambar styraciflua

Sweetgum
Liquidambar styraciflua

Red maple
Acer rubrum

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