My property (New Mexico, climate zone 7a) has a patch of ground between my driveway and a fence that's begging for a tree to be there. It's about 11 feet wide. Apparently a tree was there before, as its stump is still visible (you can see it at https://i.sstatic.net/3Z5lN.jpg).

I'd like to plant something whose roots won't eventually heave the concrete driveway slab. It would be planted about 5 or 6 feet from the driveway. Shade doesn't matter to me because it's on the north part of the lot. Trees that grow well in the neighborhood are Hackberry, Juniper, Cypress, various Pines, and some Oaks. Do any of these stand out as being especially safe to plant in this strip?

  • Mesquite? When I think desert and tree that's what first springs to mind.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 1:28
  • Shade doesn't matter to me because it's on the north part of the lot. There actually aren't any Mesquites here. It gets too cold for them (high desert). I guess I'm mostly asking about the roots. I don't want a tree with really invasive roots that will eventually ruin my driveway.
    – iLikeDirt
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 2:06
  • Cornelian cherries are pretty cool. They're pretty small and nice; So, I imagine they wouldn't break up the driveway (I could be wrong). Nice tart fruits in late autumn, too. The wood is supposed to be excellent for bows and stuff. Despite the name, it's not a cherry. (It's related to dogwood.) Dogwood might be worth researching. Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 0:20
  • @user2962794 You sure it will grow in that area?
    – J. Musser
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 20:49
  • No, but it is said to grow in zone 7, I believe. Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 0:38

2 Answers 2


First, I'll mention that if there was a tree there before, it was taken down for a reason. If the reason was disease, you'll want to know the species, so that you don't accidentally replant the same thing. Of course, id-ing stumps is hard, especially once the bark is off. You may have to ask around, or just chance it.

Now, here are some trees you may find to be of interest, in no particular order:

And the list goes on. These trees should behave rootwise, the most vigorous in this respect listed here being honeylocust. I've purposefully left out Oaks, and some others, as they will tend to move concrete slabs, given time :P. The conifers should be fine.

Disclaimer: I live in a temperate area

  • 1
    Well dang - I'd find that a real easy list to narrow down - pinenuts!
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 0:58
  • Yes, I'm thinking the same thing! I'll see if I can get a picture of the stump tomorrow. The remaining bark makes me think it was a pine. However, there are a zillion pines growing nearby; they seem to do well in general around here.
    – iLikeDirt
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 3:10
  • Here's the stump: imgur.com/a/32ob6
    – iLikeDirt
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 16:06
  • @iLikeDirt That does look like pine, from what I can see of the growth habit and the remains of the bark.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 21:45
  • 1
    My Piñon pine died. I have planted another one and am trying again.
    – iLikeDirt
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 3:58

With regards to preventing the tree from lifting the concrete slab, I would consider installing a root barrier. A root barrier could be thought of as a "well" to prevent root growth towards the slab. The wall of the well would extend from above the soil line down to whatever depth the roots would grow. The depth would depend on the species and the conditions of the soil. For example, if you have hardpan at 18 inches down, the roots aren't going to go down further. Once you have settled on a particular species, I suggest driving around to see if you can spot mature trees growing near sidewalks or driveways. You may spot an example of someone who installed a root barrier at the time of planting, and thus prevented some of the usual problems of planting a tree near a driveway.

Have you also considered shrubs? Many shrubs can be pruned in a tree-like form, and this would extend the possible candidates.

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