replacing pin oak

bklyn71July 24, 2011

We have a pin oak in our backyard and recently learned that because of its multiple leaders (there are three), it is structurally unsound. But it is the focal point of our garden and gives us shade. We were thinking of gradually removing it by pruning and at the same time growing a replacement tree opposite it. We have a tiny Brooklyn backyard (20' wide). Is this a practical option? If so, what would be the best tree for a little urban garden? I'd love something that flowers.

Thank you!

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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

If you plant a tree in the 'opposite' location, how much sun will it receive while the pin oak is still standing?

If you do plant the new tree and then after several years remove the pin oak, how much will it cost to remove the pin oak without damaging the new tree? That may dictate what you do. [With a 20' wide yard, I assume the pin oak's branches probably overhang at least some of these: your house, neighbor's houses, various fences, garages, etc.]

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 3:58PM
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I think I would have to look for a replacement tree that does okay with part sun. It would definitely receive a fair amount of sun though. I don't think removing the oak without damaging the other tree would be a problem. We had it pretty drastically pruned this year and the rest of the garden was untouched. This is an attached house in NYC (no garages), so the tree pruners are used to working in tight spaces.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 11:27PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

I like the idea of preplanting and gradual removal, and MTO has pinpointed the major potential hurdle to doing that, namely if the new tree will be damaged by removal of the old.

Other than that, the issue is direction of sun. The new tree may not give you shade quite where you want it. I don't see this as a long term problem, though, because once the pin oak is down you can plant a new tree in its location.

Managing treescape in a small space is a process, not an end result! As such, you can always plant/remove on a staggered basis at the two sites available for trees. If the pin oak is at the better spot, that is where you would plant a slow growing tree that will provide perfect shade for several years once it grows to a certain point. At the other location, you can plant something that will grow quickly to size, and then remove it when the primary tree gets big enough to do its part.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 2:32PM
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Thanks Karin! That sounds like good advice. From some other posts, it sounds like I should avoid trees with shallow root systems too, or I won't be able to plant under them.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2011 at 11:42AM
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