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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - November 18, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Pruning, Trees
Title: Tree removal from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Unfortunately we need to cut down a Spanish oak (11" diameter, over 50 feet tall) that is leaning against our upper story deck (if it falls, the roof, deck, and steel supports may be crushed). A limb (6 ft. sucker) has grown out at the 8' height -- if the tree is removed above this limb, is there a chance that the tree could survive? If so, how do you make the cut (straight or angle)?

ANSWER:

There are four native oaks with the common name"Spanish Oak" but only one, Quercus buckleyi (Texas red oak), is native to Travis County, so we will use that one as an example

This is a problem which you likely need to address quickly before the worst happens; that is, the tree falling on your deck. This is going to be a complex and difficult chore, best done by professionals. If you attack it on your own, it might be a human body that gets crushed. A tree that big is going to fall where it will. We suggest you go to our National Suppliers Directory. In the Enter Search Area box, put in your town and state or just your zip code and press GO. You will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and consultants in your general area. Under consultants, you will find a number of tree specialists who should have the know-how and equipment that will prevent a disaster. When we searched on Austin, we found one which included "landscape services." You can search for others online, interview each, ask for costs and guarantees and make a good decision.

As for your question about the one branch surviving this radical surgery, we would say no, but that is another question to ask an expert.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas red oak
Quercus buckleyi

Texas red oak
Quercus buckleyi

Texas red oak
Quercus buckleyi

More Pruning Questions

Cutting back perennials from Austin
February 08, 2011 - When is it time to cut back native plants; salvia;copper canyon daisy; verbena, etc?
view the full question and answer

Fragrant foundation plants for sunny, dry area in Illinois
August 26, 2009 - We need suggestions of what to plant on the south side of our house heave sun and rather dry soil. We just took out old dead bushes. Would prefer something that flowers and smells nice that would gr...
view the full question and answer

Lifespan and pruning of cedar elm in San Antonio
October 03, 2009 - How long do cedar elm trees live? How can you estimate the age of one, or tell if it is nearing the end of its normal lifespan? Do you have any recommendations for selecting someone to prune it proper...
view the full question and answer

Leggy purple coneflower
August 20, 2007 - Last year I planted purple coneflowers and this year when they bloomed they were extremely tall & leggy. I'd like next year to get them to be shorter and fuller. How do I do that & is it something ...
view the full question and answer

Should I use wound paint when pruning my live oak tree?
February 04, 2010 - When trimming live oak branches, is it best to coat the wound on the tree? I have been doing this but have recently heard that it can actually be bad for the tree.
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