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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - November 06, 2014

From: Coppell, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Trees
Title: Small Tree for Texas Garden
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I would like to plant a small tree just 3-4 feet from my house, but I don't want to damage the foundation. Is there a small fruit or nut tree I could plant that would fit the bill? Failing that, is there a nicely colored one that might work?

ANSWER:

The solution to keeping your foundation intact is to put down a barrier to stop tree roots from growing toward your house. For a small tree, a heavy plastic or metal sheet that is 24 inches in depth should be adequate to keep the roots away.

The first place to go to find a list of potential trees for the garden area around your home is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.
Under Combination Search, select the following categories: TX, Habit – tree, Duration – Perennial, Light Requirement – Sun, Soil Moisture – Dry, and Size – 6-12 feet.

Some small trees to consider from this search are:

Acacia berlandieri (guajillo)

Acacia roemeriana (roundflower catclaw)

Cercis canadensis var. mexicana (Mexican redbud)

Cercocarpys montanus var. argenteus (silver mountain mahogany)

Ilex verticillata (common winterberry)

 

Since you have an interest in edible native plants, the Lady Bird Johnson website has a listing of these types of plants for Texas (all types of plants are included). These fall outside the search criteria but you might find a suitable plant for another location on your property.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Guajillo
Senegalia berlandieri

Guajillo
Senegalia berlandieri

Roemer acacia
Senegalia roemeriana

Roemer acacia
Senegalia roemeriana

Mexican redbud
Cercis canadensis var. mexicana

Mexican redbud
Cercis canadensis var. mexicana

Silver mountain mahogany
Cercocarpus montanus var. argenteus

Common winterberry
Ilex verticillata

Common winterberry
Ilex verticillata

Common winterberry
Ilex verticillata

Common winterberry
Ilex verticillata

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