Issue: October 11, 2003

Preserving old tree stump


I have a pine tree that I cut down, and I would like to keep parts of it as plant stands just the way it is, bark and all. Is there a way to preserve it, so it won't rot and termites won't get into it? Also, I have a tree that has pushed up the driveway. I will NOT cut it down; we will live around it. I cannot put down cement or pavers. Do you have any other idea except gravel? I have searched everywhere; I cannot be the only one with this dilemma.


To preserve the pine tree portions that you wish to use as a plant stand, there are several penetrating wood preservatives that can be used. You will need to coat all cut surfaces and the bark with the preservative. If you want to use the stump portion, you can't paint the roots that remain in the ground, but you can treat all above-ground portions. The roots will eventually rot, but that will take a few years because of the resin in the pine tree. As to which preservative is best to use, your local paint or hardware store can give a much better recommendation than I can.

Your problem with tree roots lifting the driveway is not uncommon. You are correct that cutting the root is not a good idea. Solutions to the problem are difficult to find. If it is possible to remove the section of the driveway over the root, you can cut a piece of drainpipe (clay or concrete) to form a tunnel over the root. This will allow you to drive over the bump made by the drainpipe without damaging the root. As the tree grows, you may have to replace the drainpipe with a larger one. If this is not possible, you may need to leave the broken driveway in place unless it creates too great a hazard to foot traffic. Removing the concrete will allow traffic to damage the root. Gravel may reduce damage to the root if it is a thick layer of gravel, but it will more likely dig into the root as a car runs over the gravel. This will create wounds in the root that will become infected with disease organisms.

In general, how long till a plant bears fruit


I have a question about plants in general. How long does it take for a plant to grow and bear fruit, beginning with when it was planted and until it bears fruit? Also, how long does it take once the tree or plant has reached maturity?


The time from seed to fruit production depends on the plant. Some species go from seed to fruit in a few weeks but others take decades. While it doesn't take a plant a century to produce flowers and fruit, it may take several decades. Some desert ephemeral plants go from seed to seed and the plant dies in as little as 4 weeks.

Some plants, including many common temperate zone fruit trees, have two distinct life phases - the juvenile phase and the adult phase. While in juvenile phase, the plant may look different from the adult tree, but the major characteristic is that it does not produce flowers and fruit. After the plant has reached an appropriate size, it enters the adult phase. Once a plant reaches the adult phase, it will begin flowering and, if environmental conditions are proper, fruit will be formed that year and (usually) every year after that.

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Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!