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
2 ratings

Friday - April 05, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Pruning Trees in Austin, TX
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I have lots of green growth sprouting on the trunks of mature trees. Should I trim them off?

ANSWER:

It depends.  You didn’t say what kind of mature trees you have.

If the trees are Oaks - - Then the answer is “Not Now!” .  The link here is to an earlier Mr Smarty Plants question and references which give you a good overview of the dangers of Oak Wilt and how you can attempt to protect your trees.  The short version of this is to prune only in the “depth” of the cold winter, preferably January & February.

Looking farther afield, I found two good and local articles on why you could want to prune a tree.  The short version of their advice is  “ health, cosmetics & safety”.  The first of these is an article from the city of Round Rock on Pruning Mature Trees, which discusses reasons for pruning.  Their basic philosophy is that “Pruning is the most common, yet often unnecessary, tree maintenance procedure.”    Trees should be pruned for three reasons “safety, health, and aesthetics”.   Very similar advice is given in a blog from the Austin Tree Experts on “Why to Prune Trees in Austin TX”.

So, how does this affect your perception of the mature trees?  Assuming they are not Oaks, then an argument could be made that the trunk growth is not very good looking, or that in due time, branches growing there would be unsafe. [I consistently get a scratch on my head from the low branches of our plum tree while mowing!]  Its not necessary to prune your trees, but if you wish, this is the justification.   Mr Smarty Plants does have a good answer on pruning Chinkapin oak, Loquat and Monterrey oak trees

Similarly, to help you do it right, the Wildflower Center has a Step by Step Guide on How to Prune a Tree

 

From the Image Gallery


Chinkapin oak
Quercus muehlenbergii

Chinkapin oak
Quercus muehlenbergii

Mexican white oak
Quercus polymorpha

More Trees Questions

Do Maple trees and Poplars grow well in Amarillo,TX?
May 25, 2010 - Do maple trees and poplars grow well in Amarillo Texas? I love the fall reds, oranges, and yellows. If they don't grow well can you recommend some trees that have the color that will grow well?
view the full question and answer

Tree with light-colored bark, thorns and long white clumps of flowers
August 18, 2015 - I bought a tree at the LBJWC plant sale a couple years ago but lost the name of the tree. I'm finally ready to plant it in the ground and would like to learn more about what its needs are. Can you ...
view the full question and answer

Is Carolina laurel (Prunus caroliniana) a good choice for San Juan Islands, Washington?
November 03, 2007 - What are the prospects for Carolina laurel here on San Juan Island, mixed in with thin stand of douglas fir, about 50 feet from shore, eastern exposure? Water is available but little sun because of l...
view the full question and answer

A tap-rooted tree for Munroe Falls, OH?
August 16, 2012 - Hello.. We need to find a fast growing shade tree which has a tap root or a heart root system. No surface roots please. We live in Munroe Falls, Ohio which I believe is Zone 5. Let us know your though...
view the full question and answer

Surface tree roots hurting grass in Houston
March 21, 2013 - We have 2 mature Arizona Ash trees in our yard (30-40'). One of them is in a sunnier location and has developed an extensive network of surface roots (up to 1 to 1 1/2" Dia.) between the tree and th...
view the full question and answer

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