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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - February 10, 2009

From: Portland, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Trees
Title: Walnut tree root coming through basement floor in Portland, OR
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a walnut tree root coming through my basement floor. I need advice as to what will it do to tree when I remove the root, like another root though a different part of my home. It is a large tree that has been here for thirty years, and the root came up within the last 3-5 years (didn't notice till huge split in floor). The tree had a hard pruning probably about the same time. I really want to keep the tree but am afraid of killing it when we cut the root.

ANSWER:

We're really sorry, but we think you're going to have to choose between the tree and the house. Cutting off that root coming through your basement floor will not only probably not kill the tree, but will inspire it to put out fresh roots. And you're telling us this is the second time the roots have invaded your house? This is undermining your foundation, inviting the incursion of termites and rodents, permitting the development of mildew and can only lead to structural damage. You didn't say which was older, the tree or the house, but the tree was planted too close to the house or the house built too close to the tree; either way, one is going to have to go. Tree roots can extend three times the height of the tree, and are relentless in their search for water and nutrients. You should get a licensed, certified arborist to supervise the removal of the tree and then have a structural engineer examine your house to see how much damage has been done and what is needed to correct it.

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Identification of fast-growing weeds with orange flowers
July 14, 2013 - I have fast growing plants (weeds?) in my heavily wooded backyard. They reach heights of over 6 ft and have orange flowers. I have spent hours searching the web today with no success -the closest thin...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating wisteria invading from neighboring yard
October 12, 2008 - How can I get rid of Wisteria vine? It originates in my neighbor's yard. Have tried everything; gets in my Oak tree and has almost killed it. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native Japanese privet from Glendale AZ
December 26, 2012 - We have Japanese privet shrub and they seem to be suffering from a disease, need help.
view the full question and answer

Identity of plant in Kentucky with fuzzy grayish-green leaves
September 03, 2012 - I would like to know about a plant that I do not know what it is. I had this plant just come up in my flowerbed, that looked like a tobacco plant but the leaves looked like a lambs ear plant. It was ...
view the full question and answer

Control methods for Cenchrus spinifex, Coastal sandbur
September 22, 2006 - I have some of the nicest, thickest, greenest grassburs in the county of Erath. What is the best and quickest way to get rid of them? I have heard of a product called cornmeal gluten. Any info appreci...
view the full question and answer

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