UACES Facebook Cypress
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(October 2011)

QuestionI live in Cabot and my house gets full sun the entire day. I went to a tree giveaway and got a little fir tree, a red oak and a dogwood. Would any of those be good for backyard plants? Will the dogwood do well in full sun? All of them are very young trees! I am thinking of putting a red maple in the back yard with loropetalum and azaleas to hide the cable box. I have never lived in Arkansas and don't know your trees.

AnswerWelcome to Arkansas. Dogwoods would not do well in full sun all day—they would sunburn every summer. They are best in full morning sun or filtered sun. The oak tree is a wonderful shade tree and by fir, I am assuming you have a bald cypress maybe? It too will make a large shade tree. Red maples are great mid-sized trees. If you want one with guaranteed fall color, choose one now with color or go with a named cultivar.


QuestionI have a large cypress tree in my front yard that has roots (knees) protruding above ground. I have been cutting them back to ground level, but now they have expanded so much that mowing is a problem. My question - can a root/stump grinder remove these roots without killing the tree? If nothing can be done the tree must be removed. The roots are numerous and extend as far as 20 feet from the trunk.

AnswerI would not recommend using a stump grinder to remove the knees of your bald cypress. Cutting them off at or slightly below soil level is fine, but if you start grinding them out I am worried you will damage the root system of your tree. There are numerous theories of why bald cypress trees have knees—to get oxygen in boggy areas, to help anchor them, etc.—none of which have been proven that are necessary for plant survival. It is true that knees are more prevalent in wet areas, but as you have experienced, they can emerge in a normal landscape. I would hate to see you remove these wonderful trees because of the knees. Could you do away with some of the lawn and just mulch?

(June 2006)

QuestionMy husband and I are having a disagreement - A cypress tree is planted close to a gate and branches have grown so much they are blocking the entrance. He says cut the branch off. I say tie it back, because as it grows the branches will grow up and out of the way and I don't want to ruin the shape. He says the tree grows from the top and the bottom branches will always be where they are right now?? What is the correct thinking on tree growth and pruning?

AnswerAs much as I hate to tell you - your husband is right. Any branches that are down low will always be there. New growth is from the top up. I think many people get the misconception of trees pushing out of the ground and moving up from all the cartoons--consider Jack and the bean stalk--he got on and it took him to the giant. Pruning off a few lower limbs is not going to hurt anything, and the tree should grow taller. Making sure you can see to pull out of your drive is also safer.

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