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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 - June 18, 2015

From: Allen, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Spacing of Trees near a House Foundation
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Can you recommend non-invasive shade tree that can be planted 6 to 7 feet from foundation. We are buying a new home in zone 8a and choices that are given are: Live Oak, Lacebark Elm, Cedar Elm, and Bald Cypress. We can pay extra and also have Magnolia or any other shade tree that is 4 inch caliper. What would you recommend?

ANSWER:

Ray Rothenberger of the Department of Horticulture, University of Missouri has an article online about the spacing of landscape plants and says the following: Trees, especially large shade trees, should be placed well away from the home to avoid later maintenance problems. Strong-wooded shade trees such as oaks should be planted no closer than 20 feet from the house, but soft wooded trees such as soft maple should be planted at an even greater distance. Large shade trees should be planted about 50 feet from each other. Trees of medium size such as red maple or river birch should be spaced about 35 feet apart. Small trees such as dogwood, redbud, hawthorn or crab may be planted 15 to 20 feet apart and no closer than 8 feet from the house when used as an accent or corner planting.

All of the trees that you suggest are appropriate for zone 8a but take a look at the ultimate size and spread to make sure they have enough room where you are wanting to put them.

 

From the Image Gallery


Coastal live oak
Quercus virginiana

Cedar elm
Ulmus crassifolia

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

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