En Español

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

Red oak (Quercus shumardii or Q. buckleyi) for small yard.
December 13, 2007 - Hello, I want to plant a red oak but my yard is not large. I'm looking for a red oak that is medium size in width. The height is not so much of a concern. From what I've read, the Shumard is m...
view the full question and answer

An evergreen, deer-resistant shrub for Memphis
July 24, 2013 - I need an evergreen, deep to partial shade, deer resistant shrub or tree. Does such a plant exist?
view the full question and answer

Junipers for restoring area in Bulverde TX
November 03, 2012 - Are ashe or virginiana junipers for sale around the hill country? I would like to recreate the natural plant life that was bulldozed next to my home. Do you recommend any other types of juniper that ...
view the full question and answer

Need help with a 50 ft Tulip Tree with storm damage in Brownsburg, IN.
June 30, 2010 - I have a 50 ft Tulip tree that suffered storm damage. One for the main branches split at the top fork and fell. It has left about 6 ft of exposed wood but there are still a couple of main branches in...
view the full question and answer

Crape myrtle in Austin
August 01, 2012 - Please don't bother to answer my question about how to treat a crepe myrtle with sticky stuff falling from it. I just found the answer on your site. Good site, by the way.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center