Rent Shop 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
4 ratings

Monday - July 21, 2008

From: Diamond Springs, CA
Region: California
Topic: Trees
Title: Trimming oak threatening fence in California
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Diamond Springs,California,I have a large oak tree growing between my neighbors' house and mine. A large branch is cracked and in danger of falling on my fence,I would like to lighten it up by trimming it up,any certain time of year? It's in a spot called a green belt, between houses-between fences,it won't hurt his but would wipe mine out. Any suggestions ?

ANSWER:

You'd better first check and see who that strip of greenbelt belongs to. If it is city or utility easement, they would be the ones responsible for trimming the tree. You could probably get permission to trim it on your own, but it would be safer to check.

The other thing that we're concerned about is the possibility of introducing disease into the tree if you trim it now. You didn't say what species of oak you have, but in Texas we are constantly on guard against the spread of oak wilt, a devastating disease of certain oaks spread by a small beetle which is active in warm weather. This USDA Forest Service Pest Alert discusses a recently discovered pathogen for oaks found, at the present, only in California and Oregon. The point being, many of these oak problems can be spread if there is an open wound on an oak that attracts insects that are the carriers of these diseases. The best time to do anything about trimming an oak, or just about any other woody plant, is in winter, when cool temperatures render most insects inactive and the plant is more dormant.

Because this is a more localized problem, we would suggest you go to the home page of the University of California Cooperative Extension office for El Dorado County. We noticed that on that home page there is a link to information on a Master Gardeners class on summer pruning, scheduled for July 29. It would seem that would be the best place to get good information on how, when and whether to prune that tree now. If you can't attend the class, there are contact links on the home page to reach personnel in the office who should be able to help you.

 

More Trees Questions

Plants for shelter for butterflies
July 04, 2010 - I understand that butterflies need certain plants for food, but are there specific plants that butterflies prefer to use as shelter in central Texas?
view the full question and answer

Drought Resistant Privacy Screen for North Side of Austin Texas House
July 10, 2016 - We live in the densely populated Mueller development, where there's barely 3 feet from our home to the 6 foot high privacy fence between us and the house next door. Since the houses are 2 stories, we ...
view the full question and answer

Need to know how to plant trees to create a windbreak in Ashburn, VA.
May 06, 2010 - I want to know how to plant trees to create windbreaks. I live on a slope of a hill, the front of the house is steep and the back of the house has neighbors in a cul de sac. I swear I live in a wind...
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

Propagation of Mexican olive in Luling, TX
August 04, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants: we live in Luling, just south of Austin and have a 4 year old Mexican Olive tree; question: how do we propagate this 'hard to find' tree? Thank you so much.
view the full question and answer

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