Explore Plants

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
    
 

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
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

Transplanting large Silverado Sage bushes from Mesa AZ
August 19, 2013 - We just bought a condo with three Silverado Sage, each one is 6-8 ft tall, trained to grow as "trees" with bare branches for the bottom 4 feet or so, and beautiful flowering branches on top. They ar...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Cuphea Plants
February 04, 2013 - The David Verity cuphea (cigar plants) that I planted last spring are now 3-4 feet high. I would like to move them, but before I do they seem to need pruning. All the branches are brown and dry lookin...
view the full question and answer

Cutting back salvia greggii in Birmingham, AL
February 23, 2010 - When is a good time to cut back salvia gregii and how much can you cut it back. We will probably still have frost. Will it grow in sun and shade?
view the full question and answer

Burning back Gulf Muhly instead of trimming from San Antonio
December 19, 2011 - A few years ago I noticed that the Center burned back its Gulf Muhly rather than cutting it back. Did that study result in any conclusions or recommendations?
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming Tecoma stans in Fredericksburg, TX
June 30, 2008 - We have an esperanza plant purchased last year from Walmart and planted outside before winter. It flowered excellently last year. Just before winter we cut it back to about a foot. So far this summer ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.