The Huge Oak Tree Can Stay…For Now

We have two huge, nice trees on our property, and both of them are oak. The one in the front is literally the sum total of our front yard landscaping right now. If we were to lose that tree, there would be nothing of value left in our front yard.

It’s a gorgeous tree, and if we ever lost it, I’d cry. Seriously. Rivers of tears. This is an old picture, so the house looks quite a bit different from how it looks today and it has the leaning pecan tree that is long gone, but this is my favorite picture of our front yard oak tree.

Oak tree in my front yard with orange leaves in the fall

But we also have one in the back yard, and the fate of that tree has been hanging in the balance for quite some time now because of its close proximity to the house. But it’s really been called into question since the construction of the carport started.

It’s not quite as big as the front yard oak tree, but it’s big. Huge, even. And it’s so close to the house. You can see it in this picture that I took right after we bought the house in 2013. The oak is the bigger one on the left. The one on the right is a pecan tree.

That big oak was close to the house then (it sits right at 13 feet from the back wall of the pantry), but now that we’ve made improvements and additions on the back of the house, that tree’s personal space has shrunk considerably to the point that I was convinced the only option was to cut it down. You can see here just how close it is to the carport roof…

That trunk is probably no more than 20 inches from the edge of the roof.

So I called the guy who owns the company that trimmed our trees back in 2014 to get his opinion. And I’ll say that I was pleasantly surprised. He did express some concern about the location of the tree, but was very opposed to cutting it down because of its age and size. So he suggested that we just give it a good trimming, raise the canopy, get all of the dead wood out of it, and then leave it and see how it reacts to its shrinking personal space.

I think that’s a big difference between hiring a certified arborist who owns a tree service and hiring some guy with a truck and a chain saw. An arborist actually loves trees and wants to see them thrive. Some guy with a truck and a chain saw might just see the fact that he can charge you $4000 to chop down a huge tree. That’s definitely something to consider when looking for someone to take care of the trees on your property.

They arrived yesterday morning at about 6:30 and got started, and it took them about four hours to get all set up, get the tree trimmed, and clean up. Here’s how she looked before her trimming…

And here’s how she looks now…

Much better! It’s hard to tell where the oak ends and the pecan starts. Their branches intermingle quite a bit, and I only had them tend to the oak for now. But they took quite a bit of weight and overhang out of the tree, so it’s up quite a distance from the roof of the carport as well as the roof of the house.

So the plan is for me to keep a close eye on the tree and notify him if I see anything that concerns me. And if I do see something alarming or questionable, he’ll come right out and look at. In addition, we’ll schedule annual appointments for him to come and look at it regardless of whether I see something concerning or not.

He pointed out two areas where I really need to keep watch on the tree. The first is this area where two huge branches have been previously cut off. The tree obviously tried to scar over these areas, but they were so huge that the tree couldn’t completely heal over them.

One of those was cut off before we bought the house. The other was after we bought the house, and it had to be cut off because it was growing straight towards (and almost touching) the back of the sunroom. He said if those areas start looking rotten and decayed, then that could indicate a considerable amount of decay within the tree.

The other area was this little fungus (at least I think it’s a fungus) at the base of the tree.

He said that that feeds on dead and decaying wood, so if that starts to spread, then that could be cause for concern. Right now, it’s just a tiny area considering how big the circumference of this trunk is, so it’s not really cause for concern at this point.

And in addition to those things, he suggested that I kindly request that contractors and subs not throw rocks and broken concrete onto the trunk of my tree. I definitely need to have them move that stuff away before it does some damage.

So she lives on for another day. And probably another year. And hopefully for many years after that. The house was actually here before the tree, so I’m a little surprised that an oak tree was allowed to grow so close to the house. But she’s here, and she’s been here, growing and trying to thrive in this tight space, for over 60 years, so I’ll do my best to help her continue on for as long as possible.

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  1. I work in a 6-story building that is BEAUTIFULLY landscaped. The side that I enter on had these gorgeous, old, established trees that created a canopy over the sidewalk to the entrance. Unfortunately, the trees made a mess of the sidewalk with their little seedlings and it would get tracked inside. So, instead of making it part of their daily cleaning schedule, the maintenance crew decided to just have them cut down. 6 or 7 perfectly healthy, beautiful trees cut down because some people were inconvenienced by a little debris in the lobby. Now, the sun shines into our atrium so harshly, it’s at least 20 degrees hotter in there, and you get blinded every time you walk through. Plus, the sidewalk bakes in the sun all day so it’s like getting hit in the face when you walk outside of the building.

    I absolutely hate people who cut down trees simply because they’re ugly or messy or they inconvenience them. Don’t people realize trees are responsible for our air, preventing erosion/flooding, preventing heat island effects, and so many other things? Thank you for trying so hard to save that tree! 🙂

    1. Sherre, I completely, totally agree with you. I live in a subdivision called Forest Park and built my house 30 years ago. We have covenants that say you can’t cut down any tree that is 3″ in circumference unless it is dead, diseased, or an immediate danger to the house. I was told by some that I should cut down all the trees close to the house. Fortunately, I didn’t. All the trees are living and are basically fine–I did have to take one down that was dying from the top down. Everybody has beautiful wild dogwoods that bloom every year. I have watched painfully as newcomers come in and cut down the trees in their yards. I almost break out in hives watching them. I finally told one guy that as he chopped down all those weeds (aka trees) that he just knocked $10,000 off the value of his property and $5,000 off each of the other houses. He was so surprised.

  2. Thank you for suggesting talking to an arborist before calling just some arbitrary tree trimming service. We have a maple we need to have taken care of, probably taken down, and would like to put a different tree from our property in it’s place. An arborist would know if that were feasible, instead of just doing what we asked. Since we really don’t know a lot about trees, best locations, and so forth. BTW, your oak in the front yard is gorgeous!!! I would cry also if that ever went away.

  3. yes yes yes – we have an old old oak, est. 200 yrs old; call it the Robert E. Lee-troops camped and marched through here.

  4. I so agree with Sherre, people and their willy nilly plant removal makes me nuts! Trees are majestic, especially old trees. Thank you for taking care of her and not just chopping her down!

  5. Have you ever thought about propagating or growing a tree from a cutting? I bet you can get one from one of yours and plant it in a more appropriate location. Or you can watch for a sapling to relocate.

  6. We have a few large trees on our property along with a great apple tree. I love them. We also had pine trees that grew so tall they had to be cut down for safety reasons. I don’t think anything looks as pretty as a yard with old established trees. The shade they provide is wonderful. When we first bought our house (32 years ago) we had to have one large tree removed because the roots were lifting the sidewalk, getting into the sewer line and starting to cause trouble with our foundation. Lucky for us, the others are far enough away to just enjoy

  7. Our back deck is built around a huge tree. I can only reach about halfway around the trunk. Every year or so we get out the jigsaw and make the hole a little larger so it can continue to grow. The arborist says it’s healthy and gets excited about it. I wish I could say building around the tree was our idea but am grateful the previous owners appreciated it enough to build around it.

  8. I love the shape of your oak tree in your front yard. Have you ever thought about
    creating a painting of it?

  9. From one tree hugger to another – your arborist is a hero.
    So happy for your beautiful ol’ belle of an oak.

  10. This makes me happy! When you had talked about cutting it down I was so sad. Yes, a arborist is worth every penny. In my opinion a big beautiful tree makes a house!

  11. I have invested in a bi-annual visit from an arborist to care for the lovely Maple tree in my front yard. I have been here 10 years now, the tree has a twin trunk because it was not cared for early in its life. This past autumn he cleared some dead branches on the driveway side then shaped the canopy on both left and right sides. He always clears away much of the inside growth which tend stretch out spindly branches seeking light. My driveway is not permeable and that is why the left side of the tree is suffering. I will direct a downspout through a perforated ‘Big O’ toward the roots to help this tree survive. So after 10 years I have invested about $1,000 but to me that tree is priceless. Good on you Christie for saving your marvelous tree.

  12. Good for you! You will never regret having all that shade, in Texas! Helps with cooling bills, too!

    Hate with people come in and ruin their property’s looks, removing old trees! Keep the chipper stuff for mulch in your garden area.

  13. Beautiful tree! We have a large oak that is very old in front of the house. I stood in the same spot in the yard and took 4 pictures of it (spring, summer, fall & winter) and framed it.

  14. We’ve got a lovely old maple in our back yard that is thriving (though it’s getting up in years for its “breed”), and another next to it that is not. The sickly tree is more than half dead, but the half that cones back is so beautiful.. someday we’ll have to take it down and we’re already considering what should go in its place. It won’t be another large maple, because as beautiful as it is, it’s too close to the house. If it falls, there goes our roof… or our neighbors’!
    Unfortunately a lot of people plant trees and larger shrubs way to close to the house. It can be hard to visualize how much space that tree is going to take up when it’s mature. The trees are perfect in their early years, but by the time they reach full growth they’re too close for safety, and for their health! If you had a basement, I bet you’d have large roots busting right through the walls.

  15. Yay!!! I really hated to see that beautiful piece of the past cut down. Keeping my fingers crossed that she remains vibrant!

  16. Wise to always check with an arborist if you aren’t sure about a tree. I agree that they do know a bit more than a tree trimmer. But some tree trimmers do know a lot about trees, or they wouldn’t be in business very long. I would hire someone who demonstrates knowledge and has been in business for a minimum of ten years. We recently were in need of having 5 trees taken down on our wooded lot, as they were either dead or mostly dead, and we were concerned about their safety. The guy we hired was very knowledgeable and talented at his job. He’s even coming back in the fall to do some re-grading work for us and helping us work around existing trees, so we won’t harm the root system.

  17. I just took down a tree of this size in my front yard. The roots were wreaking havoc on the cement work and the plumbing running out from my house. I had two $500 plumbing repairs to fix plumbing damaged by roots. Hopefully the contractors that poured your carport slab gave you a heads up on the potential damage the roots can cause to all your new cement work.

    As you put your landscaping plans together, keep everything close to the house small and trees far away from your foundation.

  18. One thing I have also seen, is to cordone off an area around the tree, so that heavy equipment does not travel over the root spread area and compact it too much. Maybe with oaks this doesn’t matter so much???

    I lived before in an area in Ontario with maple trees. The house next door from 1870 had the hugest one in the neighbourhood and plenty of others along the property line, which all branched over my house and yard. Their yard was 2 acres and their house was well away. One day when I was there I heard a large crack and a branch came down. It crossed our entire yard filling a huge area (our lot was 190 feet deep, but not very wide) and looked huge. Looking up, it was only a tiny, tiny part of the tree. I was very scared that i would be killed in my bed one day, as our bedroom was right under the biggest tree, and thought our house would be crushed.

    They bit the bullet and had that huge maple taken down. Sad to see it go, but there were plenty of others.

    Now my property is filled with Ponderosa pines–I love them, but oh what a constant mess. The needles come down 365 days a year, whenever there is wind. The birds love them, too….

  19. Just a thought–when that oak was planted, the house probably didn’t have the addition yet, so it was probably over 20 feet from the house.

  20. That is such a gorgeous tree and it looks so pretty after the trimming. I know you will do everything possible to keep the tree healthy. Some folks just don’t know how to appreciate such majesty!

  21. I moved to Northeast Texas from another state 11 yrs. ago. As soon as we moved into our house here, our neighbors explained the need to have trees trimmed and asked us to please join the neighborhood annual tree trimming by paying for our own yard to be done. We paid $ 1.200 dollars as we lived in a 54 yr. old home in a wooded area. I had a tree cut down as well, and asked the trimmers to ensure that all that should be removed done. I sold the house a while later, 2 weeks after we closed the sale Hurricane Ike hit and a huge oak tree in the backyard fell over sideways.
    It landed on the next door neighbors house, all the way across the ranch style home lengthwise, causing extensive damage for the new homeowner to unfortunately have to wrangle with.

  22. I have many Black Walnut trees in the front of my property, one in particular is magnificent. Every year my husband and I spend tens of hours “rolling up” the nuts, hundreds of gallons of them. The Walnut Lady and her helpers (all of them have to be in their 80’s) come by to collect them and transport them to the wholesaler. When I moved here the first thing I did was call the arborist. He removed some limbs, thinned the canopies, and declared I was good to go for the next five years. Best $6k I ever spent.
    My wooded acreage is the reason I bought the property. If the house burns I can rebuild but, the trees can never be replaced. I am only “passing through”…hopefully, the trees will be here long after I am gone.

  23. I was hoping I could get the name of your arborist. We have a tree we are trying to save, but aren’t sure if we can. As we are working our entire outdoor/patio/future pool space around this tree it would be nice to know if she is healthy enough to remain. We just moved to China Spring and don’t know anyone around here to get recommendations from. Like you I’d rather spend the money on someone who loves and wants to keep trees around than a hack with a chainsaw!

    1. Sorry, I hadn’t searched your site prior to asking this question. I saw your reply on another comment! Will be calling your tree service company on Monday!

      1. Hmmm…I don’t remember giving the name previously. Just to be sure, it’s Goss Tree Service. The owner’s name is Neill. I’ve used another tree service before as well, but I went back to Neill for this one because I trust his judgment more.

  24. She is a beauty and I hope she can survive. I love beautiful trees and the shade they provide. We had a gorgeous huge (over 100 years old) tree in our back yard but we had to have her cut down since she was decaying from within the trunk due to a hole in the trunk. So each time it rained, it became worse and was very close and dangerous to our bedroom. We are in GA and get some very severe storms that uproot huge trees so we had no choice but to do what was safe. I am so happy you care so much.

  25. I was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, and one of the things I loved about my hometown was all the beautiful trees to be seen. We’ve lived in six different states since we’ve been married , and each house had lovely trees in the yard but one–Killeen, Texas! lol I hope your tree lives on for many years and continues to share its beauty!!

  26. I am so glad you glad you are able to save the tree and I hope it continues to do well. When we bought our home the landscaping had been over-planted with trees and shrubs, lots of them had not been planted in a desirable or correct location. In most areas shrubs that would have been beautiful individually had all grown together and where much higher than the windows. The landscaping was much to heavy for the house and looked terrible. We were able to relocate a couple of smaller trees, lost one cherry tree but the Japanese Maple that was moved to the front yard is absolutely gorgeous. (This type of maple is not one of the large varieties and only gets about 10 – 15 ft.) They had planted another Japanese Maple of the same variety in a small bed in front of the dining room. It became way to large for the area but was such a beautifully structured tree that I couldn’t bear to cut it down though every landscaper etc. gave me no alternative. It also was almost entirely blocking the triple window in the dining room and making it dark inside. Then I met with the representative of the landscape company we currently use. He is a landscape architect which makes a huge difference. He wanted to try transplanting it which we did and I am happy to report it is doing great in its new location after being transplanted about three years ago.
    In the South we have a lot of Bradford Pear trees. They were a heavy favorite for a number of years until it became known that they are extremely brittle and don’t stand up to storms well. We have lots of storms here so that is a problem. There were three in our yard, one in the front and two along one side of the lot, and they were already so large and beautiful. We had an arborist take a look and the trees were healthy so he did some pruning and saved the day. We did end up losing the Bradford in the front yard due to severe storm damage. The two on the lot line did great but one had large branches, a couple of whom were coming over our deck, and both had such large branches that were at risk of being damaged in a storm. Had the arborist limb them up. He cut limbs off to a height that looked a little weird. I had no idea that he intended to take them off that high. Well, again that’s why it is good to hire an arborist. That has been about 3 or 4 years know and they have withstood many a storm with no problems but…they are absolutely beautiful and much taller than Bradfords usually get. So, listen to your gut about your trees and get more than one opinion and and price quote. It will pay off in the long run if you use knowledgeable specialist. Every time I look at my transplanted Japanese maple I am so glad I used a landscape architect who also loves to save trees and plants. The maple is just one example of the plants and shrubs we have transplanted and saved due to his advise.