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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - August 14, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Pecan trees too close together in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

There are two pecan trees in my central Austin yard. Each is four or five inches diameter at chest height and maybe 15 feet tall. They are within six feet of each other and their canopies interfere with each other. It seems like they are much too close to be healthy and grow well. Is it practical and cost effective to transplant one of them to another spot in the yard? I've heard that the taproot makes this nearly impossible at their size. If not transplanted, do I need to remove one so they don't compete?

ANSWER:

You are right, that is not a healthy situation, and Carya illinoinensis (Pecan), particularly, that big do not voluntarily move well. This is, however a decision we don't feel qualified to make. You need to contact a certified arborist and have them come out and advise you. We would guess that pecans out in the wild that seeded from pecans falling on the ground could probably end up growing close together like that; we just don't know how long it would be feasible to leave them that way.

One other consideration is going to be that they, along with hickories and black walnuts, all members of the Juglandaceae family, emit juglones which are substances to discourage competition from other plants nearby. Some grasses can resist those substances well enough to survive, but most ornamentals cannot. So you are going to have twice the problem with that, with two trees. 

We suggest you first follow the plant link above and read the information on our webpage on the native pecans. Then, go to our National Suppliers Directory, put your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" rectangle and you will get a list of native seed suppliers, nurseries and landscape professionals in your general area. If you decide to go the route of profesional arborists, you can use the contact information on each to get in touch with them, learn what their credentials are and make your decision.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Pecan
Carya illinoinensis

Pecan
Carya illinoinensis

Pecan
Carya illinoinensis

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