En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
2 ratings

Thursday - November 06, 2008

From: Evanston, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Over-trimming of native linden tree
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, My huge beautiful linden tree was just way over trimmed. It is planted near the house, so they cut most of the branches on that side all the way back to the trunk. I now have half of a tree. The arborist is claiming some new growth will fill it in come Spring. Is that correct or am I now the sad owner of half of a tree? Thank you so much for your help!!!


Tilia americana var. heterophylla (American basswood), native to Illinois, is a very large tree, often with sprouts coming up at the base making a grove.  It can grow to 60 to 90 feet in height, sometimes higher, with width up to half that. So, our feeling is that maybe the tree is simply too close to the house. The way it was trimmed is unfortunate, but the branches may have been actually in contact with the siding, which is never good. Not only that, but the roots of that tree are probably well under your foundation. Obviously, there's not anything you can do about the tree's position now, but it is something to keep in mind the next time a tree is planted. Some new growth will no doubt come out on that side, but it is always going to be lopsided, we're afraid. We don't know how old or how big the tree is now, but possibly, over time, the lower branches all the way around could be trimmed up, giving the tree a taller trunk, which seems to be the way the tree grows naturally. 

Read this article from Floridata on Tilia Americana for more information and pictures.


More Trees Questions

Leaves on maple turning red in June in Pittsburgh PA
August 01, 2010 - We live in PA and have a medium sized maple tree in our back yard. It is not a red maple. This year, in June, the very top of the tree's foliage turned bright red. This bright red started at the t...
view the full question and answer

Fast growing native trees for Manor,TX
August 04, 2005 - A friend wants to plant fast-growing trees to disguise a road on ranchland east of Manor, Texas. Any ideas? Many thanks.
view the full question and answer

Trimming oak threatening fence in California
July 21, 2008 - 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...
view the full question and answer

Leaves on new water oak turning brown from Matagorda TX
May 30, 2013 - We had water oaks planted in January when they had no leaves. Leaves came on but are now turning brown.
view the full question and answer

Problem with baldcypress tree
May 27, 2011 - Two of my three 20 year old Bald Cypress trees appear to have leafed out but are now brown in parts of the tree. The brown area is at the tops of the trees which are probably 40 ft. high. They were...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center