Angie’s Blog

Because I Can

Tree Hugging with Cortisol

Living in Texas, you do everything you can to create shade around your house. Porch structures, trees, awnings, blinds, anything to cut down on the amount of direct sunlight hitting you and your house. When we moved into our house we had 18+ trees around the property but not one of them was planted on the south side of the house. Whether this was an oversight made by the previous owners or if the 25ft by 20ft “safe area” for tree roots was deterring, we may never know. See, on the south side of our property is where our gas meter and gas lines run from the street to the house and when working between the foundation, the fence and the two gas lines; your space for trees becomes limited.

Did this stop us? Of course not! We were determined to get some shade on that side of the house (it’s the SOUTH SIDE, for god’s sake! That’s a good 20 degrees hotter then anywhere else in the yard!) so we went down to our neighborhood nursery to find us a tree. We ended up falling in love with a cute little 5gl Shumard Red Oak that we bundled up and took home with us despite the description of a mature oak being 50ft tall and 50ft wide. Well, the whole “future monstrous tree” in a “confined area” was starting to worry me so 4 months after the initial planting, I decided to ask the tree specialists at my work if I did the right thing and this is what they told me.

1.) If you’re going to replant it, do it NOW, don’t wait. The roots have already started traveling so to minimize the damage the tree will sustain with an uprooting, you will need to replant asap. When digging the tree up, dig around the tree in a significantly larger circumference then when you dug the hole initially.

2.) Trees seek water, not gas. The common horror stories we hear of trees breaking into pipes usually is when a tree is seeking water and is attracted to a cracked sewer or drainage pipe. Even though the tree is planted fairly close the the gas lines, it shouldn’t be violating them directly unless it’s with the sheer weight of it’s roots. Damage can occur to the tree however if the gas lines have to be excavated.

3.) Trimming the tree will stimulate growth. Even though the tree is 15ft from the house, we shouldn’t try to “shape” or “control” the limb growth because it will only further stimulate the growth in that area. “Cut it off if it’s there, but don’t worry about it if it’s not” (in reference to roof protection from large limbs).

I’ve been worrying about this tree ever since we planted it but now I’m just going to relax and let it do it’s thing. (Check back in 15 years to see if I’m crying over my home-repair bills due to massive tree damage)

On another note, I also picked up a Mexican Plum tree from work today. It’s just a little seedling right now but it should be fun a few years down the road. It’ll end up being a smaller tree, about 15-25 ft tall, and will need some TLC for it’s first year in the ground due to our dry spells down here.

Happy Tree Hugging!

Update: I now have two mexican plum trees and I’m panicking because I don’t know where to put all these damn trees! Fancy landscaper I am not! Ooohh, but I saw the most awesome front yard idea yesterday on another blog – I might try a version of it in my backyard.

She’s actually an Austin resident too and a professional landscaper at that. Her blog here

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One Response to “Tree Hugging with Cortisol”


  1. Nice photographs Angie! Your blog is really nice and very informative… I have enjoyed other posts too like Googling your own name etc.

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