Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
4 ratings

Monday - July 21, 2008

From: Diamond Springs, CA
Region: California
Topic: Trees
Title: Trimming oak threatening fence in California
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

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 by trimming it up,any certain time of year? It's in a spot called a green belt, between houses-between fences,it won't hurt his but would wipe mine out. Any suggestions ?

ANSWER:

You'd better first check and see who that strip of greenbelt belongs to. If it is city or utility easement, they would be the ones responsible for trimming the tree. You could probably get permission to trim it on your own, but it would be safer to check.

The other thing that we're concerned about is the possibility of introducing disease into the tree if you trim it now. You didn't say what species of oak you have, but in Texas we are constantly on guard against the spread of oak wilt, a devastating disease of certain oaks spread by a small beetle which is active in warm weather. This USDA Forest Service Pest Alert discusses a recently discovered pathogen for oaks found, at the present, only in California and Oregon. The point being, many of these oak problems can be spread if there is an open wound on an oak that attracts insects that are the carriers of these diseases. The best time to do anything about trimming an oak, or just about any other woody plant, is in winter, when cool temperatures render most insects inactive and the plant is more dormant.

Because this is a more localized problem, we would suggest you go to the home page of the University of California Cooperative Extension office for El Dorado County. We noticed that on that home page there is a link to information on a Master Gardeners class on summer pruning, scheduled for July 29. It would seem that would be the best place to get good information on how, when and whether to prune that tree now. If you can't attend the class, there are contact links on the home page to reach personnel in the office who should be able to help you.

 

More Trees Questions

Secretions of fluid from crepe myrtles
June 09, 2008 - On my crepe myrtle tree I have dozens of 1/2-inch-long narrow bugs that seem to secrete tiny drops of fluid. They appear on the branches of the tree. Are these harmful to the tree? Do I need to do ...
view the full question and answer

Probably non-native crapemyrtle trees damaged by hurricane
January 15, 2009 - I have 5 crape myrtle trees. I live in Galveston, Tx and when Hurricane Ike came through in September the salt water I think killed them. They have not come back since then and are brown with no leave...
view the full question and answer

Repairing damage to Anacacho Orchid Tree in Austin
April 30, 2008 - Hi You Guys!! We have an understory Anacacho Orchid Tree in the front and my sweetie was trimming the big oak and dropped a branch down, splitting one of the large branches off the Anacacho. The wou...
view the full question and answer

Flowering and fruting of Texas wild plums and where they grow
November 28, 2006 - Could you please tell me about Texas wild plum trees—when they flower, when they bear fruit and where they grow.
view the full question and answer

Propagating Quercus agrifolia (Coast Live Oak)
November 08, 2013 - I am a gardener for the city of San Francisco. I am just curious about the best way to prepare an acorn from Quercus agrifolia for planting. I have heard many ideas about using sandpaper and microwavi...
view the full question and answer

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