Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

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
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

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!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Tuesday - July 07, 2009

From: San Antonio , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Distance of oak tree to existing driveway in San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How close can I plant a live oak tree (15 gal) next to an existing driveway. I have about 3 feet space to plant between a fence and a driveway. This is the best spot to provide future shade. My concern is if the roots will raise the concrete over time.

ANSWER:

An oak tree root system is extensive but shallow. The ground area at the outside edge of the canopy, referred to as the dripline, is especially important. The tree obtains most of its surface water here, and conducts an important exchange of air and other gases. Any change in the level of soil around an oak tree can have a negative impact. The most critical area lies within 6 to 10 feet of the trunk. No soil should be added or scraped away from that area. Paving should not be in the dripline and no closer than 15 feet from the tree trunk. The area around the trunk-at least a 10 foot radius-should be natural and uncovered.

Not only would your pavement begin to buckle, but the tree would not thrive, either. What is on the other side of the fence? The tree roots can go under the fence, but then is there another driveway or foundation? We would hate to see you go to that much trouble and expense planting such a large tree, and have it cause so much trouble down the line and probably lose the tree, too. Now that you know what kind of spacing the tree needs, perhaps you can find another place on your property where it will be able to grow without disruption of foundations, sidewalks, driveways or its own roots.

 

More Trees Questions

Evergreen plants safe for horses in Louisville, Kentucky
May 16, 2010 - I have a horse farm in Louisville, Ky. I want to plant evergreen plants along the walls in front of the horse barns. What types of plants are not toxic to horses can I use? Thank you so much for all y...
view the full question and answer

Selection of trees for new home
June 30, 2008 - We are moving to Roanoke, Texas(Denton County) into a new home. Our home will have 3 trees which we can choose. They are Texas Ash, Live Oak, Sweetgum, Silver Leak maple, Cedar Elm and Bradford Pear...
view the full question and answer

Trees to replace some non-native invasives in Deltona FL
February 02, 2012 - I would like to replace 3 large ChinaBerry & 3 large Chinese Tallow trees in my good sized back yard with some local wildlife friendly trees native to the Deltona area(first area.) What do you recomme...
view the full question and answer

American Beech with Brown Leaves
August 06, 2015 - I have a North American beech tree in Oregon. Its leaves started out with big brown spots on the leaves and is pretty much turning all the leaves on the tree brown. What could be causing this and wha...
view the full question and answer

Ash tree shedding seeds early in IL
June 23, 2011 - I've lived in my house 13 years now and have a large and old ash tree in my backyard near my patio. The seed pods are ten-fold this year and are dropping constantly. I've never experienced this co...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.