Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Friday - January 07, 2011

From: Sun City West , AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Tree options for patio in Sun City West, Arizona.
Answered by: Leslie Uppinghouse

QUESTION:

We have an area near our cement patio in Sun City West AZ where we would like to plant a shade tree. We planted a sissoo tree, but were told that the roots will damage the patio because of the proximity. Should we be concerned and if so what would work best with the least mess and maintenance?

ANSWER:

You have a couple of options for trees that would be safe next to a patio. Small understory trees under 20' would be one way to go. A few to consider would be a Ptelea trifoliata (Wafer ash)Ilex decidua (Possumhaw), or the Cercis orbiculata (California redbud). Although these trees are pretty and could offer you some shade in the summer months, they are deciduous, meaning they would lose their leaves over winter.

If you are looking for a larger tree, depending on where you are placing the tree, a Quercus emoryi (Emory oak) would maybe work. In Arizona you don't have a lot of water and the soil doesn't have much organic matter to work with. This helps keep the root system under control. As long as the spot you are looking at is a couple of feet off of the patio and not a cut out inside the patio you should be ok. If you notice, you may see Oaks along streets and sidewalks in your area. If you find a big shade tree along a street with no root damage to the sidewalk you can consider that tree a good option. It doesn't hurt to check out parks and schools in your area for ideas.

If you are really nervous about the patio and just want to play it safe, you can't go wrong with a mesquite. Prosopis glandulosa (Honey mesquite) works for your area. You might also try Prosopis glandulosa Maverick ™ which is a naturally-occurring thornless selection for Bexar County (San Antonio, TX) and should work for Arizona as well.


Prosopis glandulosa


Cercis orbiculata


Quercus emoryi

 

 

More Trees Questions

Is Robinia pseudoaccia a good replacement tree for Shumard oaks in Austin TX?
February 27, 2013 - Recently two of our Shumard trees in the front of our house died. Both trees were small/medium in size having only been growing for 13-17 years. I've been reading about Black Locust trees which accor...
view the full question and answer

Sap dripping from redbud in Bertram, TX
March 03, 2014 - Our multi-trunked Texas redbud has sap dripping down 3 of the trunks. It seems to originate from a very small crack in each trunk. The tree is just starting to show pink this week, and is about to blo...
view the full question and answer

Plants for clay soil in Leavenworth IN
October 02, 2009 - I live in south central Indiana; the soil is very bad clay, either hard as a rock or mud. I have made several raised beds but am still having problems with plants rotting. What types of plants work he...
view the full question and answer

Source for Ashe Juniper seeds from Blanco Co., TX
March 10, 2014 - I'm trying to find Ashe Juniper seeds to plant in bare areas of my property in central Texas. I understand they grow well in rockier soil and have many other benefits for native animal species. Unfo...
view the full question and answer

Transplant shock in Mountain Laurel in San Antonio, TX
June 03, 2011 - I planted a 2 ft. tall Texas mountain laurel a month ago. Some of the leaves have turned very yellow and some of them are falling off. The plant doesn't look real healthy in general. I did add s...
view the full question and answer

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