Protecting Young Trees During the Winter Months

With the onset of the winter months, there are numerous factors that can cause damage to a young, newly planted tree. However, this doesn’t mean that all efforts to grow a tree are in vain. In fact, there are ways to protect vulnerable trees so that they remain viable long after the cold months of winter have blown away.

Mulch is a simple and inexpensive way to protect and winter-proof a young, newly planted tree. In addition to providing a barrier of protection against wind, freezing temperatures, and frost, covering the base of the tree with mulch also helps trees retain heat from the soil. Because mulch acts as an insulator, it can also prevent damage to a young tree by upheaval. If air temperatures fluctuate too sharply, the soil may be subjected to repeated thawing and freezing patterns. This can cause damage directly to the root or can agitate the soil and cause the upheaval of a young tree. The addition of mulch to the base of the tree helps decrease the chances of this kind of damage.

Many young trees are also susceptible to sunscald during the winter. Sunscald is an injury whereby healthy bark becomes damaged and cracks or peels, causing a fissure within the tree. Sunscalding can be prevented by covering the trunk with a wrap or a plastic tree guard. These preventative measures help by reflecting the sun and insulating the young tree with a soil temperature warmer than that of the air temperature. An
Austin tree removal specialist can help you determine if a tree is no longer viable due to sun scalding. Consider that the earlier the onset of the winter temperatures, the earlier one should wrap the tree. Mid to late fall is a good average. The wrap can then be removed in the spring. Additionally, consider that the chances of avoiding damage caused by sunscalding increase if the tree is wrapped during the winter months for several consecutive years.

Young trees need protection from the weight of ice and snow, too. Wrapping branches with burlap may add an extra layer of protection from cold weather conditions. Staking may also provide additional support, including preventing upheaval . Contact any Austin tree trimming specialist for advice on how to support your growing tree when ice or snow is expected.

If salting is something that’s routinely done where you live, consider planting a tree away from areas that may be heavily salted, such as near roads, or at least far enough away such that salt cannot be sprayed by passing traffic. Also, avoid planting a tree in a high salt content runoff area. If landscaping options, such as where to plant, are limited and you must plant in an area that is likely to be heavily salted, consider choosing a plant that is tolerant of salt content or adding burlap as a protective barrier. An Austin arborist can help you determine which species are most salt tolerant.

Animals seeking shelter or food during the cold winter months may also pose a threat to a young, newly planted tree. An underfed deer population may resort to feeding off the branches of a tree if other food options are unavailable. They may also cause damage to the tree by rubbing their antlers against it during rut. Either repellant or perhaps even a fence may be solutions for protecting trees against deer. Mesh wraps or other guards may be necessary for smaller animals, such as mice or rabbits, which can also damage young trees in spite of their small size.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit

Considerations for Tree Removal

In this day and age of information and do-it-yourself mentality, most folks have what they need to independently take care of home projects. Since homes are perhaps the most costly and important of all personal investments, most people tend to take pride in maintaining their homes and landscaping. After all, the right trees in just the right spots can add to the overall charm of a home. Many homes that are placed on the market today frequently advertise mature trees as an asset. However, there are several reasons why homeowners may consider having a tree removed.

Holes or cracks in trees can be indicative of weather-related issues. Depending upon the region in which one lives, holes or cracks could be caused by extreme cold or hot weather. In colder regions of the country, frost, ice, or hail can exacerbate the decay of a sunscalded tree. In warmer areas of the country, extreme heat or drought-like conditions may also affect a sunscalded tree or tree struck by lightning.

Once cracks or holes are created, the open wound can be a welcome mat for insects, including termites. The tree should be examined for holes, tunnels, or other evidence of insect infestation. If the tree is in close proximity to one’s home and an insect problem is untreated, it is possible that the problem may spread to additional surrounding areas, including the home itself. In addition to the inconvenience and unsightliness of insects inside one’s home, the activity of termites, which is often unseen until considerable foundational damage has been done, may be even more cumbersome and costly.

A leaning tree may be another reason why a homeowner would choose to have a tree removed. A leaning tree is more susceptible to breaking. Of course, it goes without saying that this is a danger to both persons and property. Heavy branches of a weakened, unhealthy tree can cause it topple. Depending on the proximity of a tree to a home, broken branches can clog gutters or become a fire hazard. Leaning, weak trees can affect electrical lines, an inconvenience a best and a possible danger at worst. They may also affect telephone communication lines. A homeowner may also consider having a leaning tree removed if it affects a neighbor’s property, as well.

A homeowner may want to have a tree removed if he or she is considering any home renovations or improvements. If the location of the tree impedes any plans, the homeowner needs to consider altering the location of the renovation, removing the tree in order to proceed, or foregoing the renovation altogether. Along those same lines, a homeowner may consider having a tree removed if its roots are damaging or will cause damage to the home by growing underneath the foundation. Certainly, it is less costly in the long run to remove the tree than to deal with any necessary home repairs resulting from its precarious growth.

If you need help determining whether or not an unhealthy tree in your yard can be healed or if it is best for it to be removed, an Austin tree trimming specialist can assist. By examining the symptoms of the unhealthy tree, the specialist can determine what possible options are available to revive the tree or whether the tree is salvageable. If you are considering having the tree removed for other reasons, such as insect problems or home renovations, you can also contact an Austin tree removal specialist, who can assist you with the professional and safe removal of the tree from your property.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit

When Do I Trim My Trees?

Trimming your trees has many advantages and it should be considered for all of the trees that you own. Tree trimming is an important, yet often overlooked, step in the tree growing process. By trimming your trees early on, you can control the shape of the crown. When you trim your trees properly, you avoid many common problems that many people experience with their trees. Disease, damage to the tree, damage to your property, and broken branches can all be avoided by trimming at the right time.

Tree trimming can make your trees aesthetically pleasing to look at, but it can also keep your trees healthy. Trimming promotes the growth of foliage, fruit and flowers. Plus, trimming keeps the branches from getting too long and fragile, so they can actually support the weight of the new growth. This helps you to avoid limb breakage, which opens up your tree to diseases.

You should trim your trees at specific times of the year. The timing is dependent on the type of tree that you own. You may want to contact a local professional tree trimmer or arborist to assess the best times to trim your trees. Some trees do best if they are trimmed in the spring or summer. Doing this can promote rapid growth and help your young trees develop to their full potential. Other trees do best if they are trimmed in the winter while they are in dormancy. However, trimming certain trees in cold weather could actually kill them.

A certified arborist will know exactly which limbs to trim and how to promote a balanced density throughout your tree. Starting early and working with a professional from the time that your trees are young can give you control over whether the trees end up narrow and tall or wide and short. How the limbs are cut influences the direction that they will grow. This can be very useful, especially if your trees could grow too close to your home, power lines, the street, or off of your property. Controlling the shape and the growth rate can also help you to create shade where you need it and balance with your other landscaping.

If you have broken, damaged, diseased or “out of control” trees on your property that you would like removed, please call an Austin tree removal service that is run by certified arborist. A professional will try everything to save a tree before removing it. Austin tree care professionals are not just workers that went out and purchased some equipment. They are highly trained in pest management, disease control, tree trimming, and much more. You can also call a professional for Austin stump removal or Austin tree trunk removal to prevent pests, like termites and roaches, from infesting your property. Be sure that you get real, honest advice when looking for Austin tree trimming services by calling a professional arborist for all of your Austin tree trimming or Austin tree removal needs.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit

Tree Planting and Care During the Fall

Although it is not typically thought of as such, fall can actually be one of the best seasons for planting trees. Because summer months are drier, sometimes even drought-stricken, newly planted trees often face a hostile environment, unable to take root and thrive. Depending upon the average temperatures and weather and soil conditions for the region in which one lives, this may even be the case for the mid to late spring months. Conversely, the harsh winter months can also be hostile to newly planted trees.

Trees planted during the fall, however, have a great advantage to both these extremes. In fact, timely planting during the fall can prove to be quite beneficial for the successful growth of the tree. By planting during the fall, the climate is typically quite temperate, and the extremes of hot or cold temperatures are no longer an issue. Additionally, with the fall months, the soil tends to better retain moisture, thereby allowing a more nourishing environment for the tree. Planting trees during the fall also allows them the benefit of the winter months for taking root into the surrounding soil and establishing a better chance for viability with the onset of spring.

It is best to start by researching which trees are native to a region. Selecting a species native to a region further ensures the probability of survival. Once a tree has been selected, plant it by first locating the area where the tree is to be planted, carefully considering the average dimensions for the species selected.

Dig a hole as high as, but several times wider than the root ball of the tree. Loosening the soil of the sides of the hole will allow the roots to better establish themselves. However, the bottom of the hole should be left intact to stabilize the tree. If planted correctly, staking the young tree should not be necessary. Generally, staking is only required if there is damage to the lawn or if there are consistently windy conditions.

Remove any containers or, minimally, loosen any burlap (although removing the burlap altogether is best) that may have come on the tree when purchased from the nursery. Then, place the tree into the hole and begin backfilling. Occasionally stomping on the soil will help to remove air pockets.

Backfill approximately two-thirds of the soil originally dug out, then water and allow the soil to settle, continuing to remove any air pockets. Use the remaining one-third of the soil to create a berm (a mound or wall of soil or sand).

Finally, cover the span of the berm all around the base of the trunk with mulch for added support and protection of the young tree.

Once this simple planting process is completed, care of the tree is quite minimal during the fall months and usually includes only watering every other week. There are lots of Austin tree services available for consult. If you are in the central Texas area and would like to consult a professional about planting your own baby tree, you can contact an Austin tree service for advice.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit

Repairing Tree Bark Damage

Tree bark can become damaged for many reasons. One common way a tree is injured and becomes infected is due to lawn mowers and weed trimmers. People don’t realize when they are mowing or trimming around their trees the damage they can cause to that tree. The place of injury typically occurs at the trees buttress, or the part that sticks out from the trunk. With numerous small repeated wounds, the tree can become damaged.  This damage is especially dangerous to the tree if it occurs in early spring during leaf emergence or in early fall during leaf drop. It is during this time that the tree bark is slipping or loose due to cambium growth.

You can protect your tree from injury by simply hand trimming the grass around the tree or preventing grass and weeds from growing at the base of the tree with the use of a herbicide or mulch.

Injury can be prevented by the removal (by hand trimming) or prevention (use of a herbicide or mulch) of grass and weeds from growing at the base of the tree.

Once a tree is wounded, the tree tries to protect itself from pathogens that would invade the wound. These microorganisms often attack the injured bark and invade adjacent healthy tissue, greatly enlarging the affected area. You can also completely girdle your tree from microbial attack after it has been injured. Watch for decay fungi, which also becomes active on the wound surface. This causes structural deterioration of the woody tissues beneath the wound.

If your tree has been wounded, even if in a minor way, you will need to repair that wound. Here are some ways to tend to tree bark wounds.

1. Scratched Tree – Wash the wound out with plain soap and water. This helps to reduce the amount of pathogens that would be in the scratch and that could cause further damage. Follow this with washing the wound thoroughly with plain water. Allow the scratch to heal in the open air, do not apply a sealant on it.

2.Replacing Bark That Has Come Off – If you can find the bark that has been removed from a tree after damage, gather it up and try reattaching it to the tree. You can use duct tape to secure the bark back to the tree. Like working a puzzle, make sure the bark is placed exactly as it was before it fell off, laying in the right direction. A tree transfers nutrients in only one direction. You must do this quickly before the bark dies. Wait for 12 weeks before removing the tape.

3. Bark That Falls Off and Can’t Be Replaced – If you cannot retrieve the bark that has been pulled from a tree, you still will need to clean the wound. Jagged wounds will interfere with the tree’s ability to transport nutrients so you will need to clean cut the wound. Cut an oval around the circumference of the damaged portion of the bark. Don’t dig too deep. Let the wound air heal and do not use a sealant. Check the wound as often as possible to remove insects. If recovery doesn’t happen in 2-3 weeks, seek professional help.

Healthy trees usually recover from wounding quickly. If you have made the above fixes on your wounded tree, remember to also keep your tree watered and fertilized properly. Having extra attention will help your tree strong and allow its wound to close quicker, not to mention improve its resistance to decay.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit

The Black Walnut Tree

The Black walnut, a tree primarily native to the Midwest and east central United States, is not only prized for its shade and beauty, but also for its wood and fruit.

The Black walnut was first introduced into Europe in 1629. This large deciduous tree can grow as high as 98–130 ft. You can distinguish this tree by its grey-black bark which is deeply furrowed.

The Black walnut is favored in the Midwest due to its resistance to frost as opposed to the Persian walnut or English walnut. The Black walnut thrives in warm regions that are fertile and have lowland soils with a high water table. This tree flourishes along the Mississippi river areas, including Missouri, where 65% of black walnuts are harvested for commercial use. The nutmeats are used as an ingredient in food while the shell is utilized commercially for abrasive cleaning, cosmetics, oil well drilling and water filtration.

The wood is valued for its use in making furniture, rifle stocks and sometimes flooring. The dark-colored heartwood of the Black walnut is heavy and strong, easy to split, and easy to work.

Throughout time, the Black walnut tree and its nuts have been utilized by people, meeting many of their needs. In pioneer days, nuts not only provided food but the shells were used to dye cloth. The wood was used for anything and everything, including making gun stocks. Later, shells of the Black walnut were used during World War II in gas mask filters. Shells were also used to clean jet engines and to activate carbon.

When planting your Black walnut, be sure to keep it away from your garden. A chemical found in the tree’s roots, leaves, trunk, and nut husks can inhibit the growth of: tomatoes, potatoes, alfalfa, blackberry, domestic grape, lilac, hydrangea, chrysanthemum, paper birch, red (Norway) pine, Scotch pine, hackberry, basswood, apple, and other plants grown too close to a walnut tree. This effect remains long after a walnut tree has been removed.

Also, do not try to grow walnut where soils are poorly drained or wet during the growing season or where flooding or ice damage is frequent. Examine soil survey maps and written soil descriptions to identify soil types suitable for walnut. When walnut or other trees are not present to allow you to judge site quality, dig several pits or cores to evaluate soil depth, texture, drainage, and fertility.

Walnut grows well on river terraces and hillside benches, and in coves in hilly terrain facing north or east. It will not grow well on steep slopes facing south or west—such sites are too hot and dry.

Walnut trees begin producing nuts when they are about 10 years old, but the best nut production begins when trees are 30 years old. Good nut crops occur in about two out of five years.

Allow 200 to 300 square feet of growing space around each tree at the time of establishment. Gradually thin to about half this density as trees mature. Keep other trees and shrubs from invading. Sod reduces nut production, but also reduces soil erosion and may discourage other plants from invading that would make nut collection difficult.

The Black walnut tree is an amazing piece of nature. Although its post-life uses are many, the tree itself can make a lovely addition to any piece of land.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit

Trees and The Many Uses of Its Sap

Trees have many benefits and one of the most overlooked is its sap. Sap serves the tree as blood does the human body – but how does the sap benefit life outside of the tree?

There are actually many ways sap is beneficial. First of all, there are two kinds of sap; both are water-based and contain minerals and hormones. Xylem sap contains additional nutrients, while Phloem sap has sugar. Pholem sap is technically made up of water, sugar, hormones and mineral elements.

With this, how is the sap used?

1. Food – Syrup is sap – maple syrup to be exact. We use sap on our pancakes, in candy and in butter. Birch sap is also made into a drink. Birch beer soda is made of birch sap, a popular drink by the Pennsylvania Dutch. A lesser known use of sap is through gum arabic which is a derivative from acacia tree sap. The gum is used in gumdrops, marshmallows, M&M’s and other candies.

2. Medicine – Sweetgum has been used by Native Americans as a balm. Some cultures mix tobacco and sweet gum to help people sleep. Sweetgum and gum arabic are used to make incense. Sweetgum is made into a salve and sold under names like Copalm Blasam and Liquid Storax. It is used to treat skin cancer, diarrhea, ringworm and other conditions. In South Korea, there is a festival that honors the sap of the gorosoe tree and it is used as a revitalizing tonic. Gum arabic is also used by drug companies as an emulsifier or binder in drugs. Gum arabic can be used to inhibit periodontal bacteria. Sap from the tree in the Amazon called Sangre de Grado or dragon’s blood, provides powerful relief from inflammation and pain. This sap is also used on insect bites.

3. Products – Sap in the form of gum arabic is used as a binder in watercolor paint, in making fireworks, as a non-toxic adhesive for cigarette papers and postage stamps. It is also used in photographic printing, cosmetics and perfume making. Some saps are made into rubber which of course is used in a million different ways. Natural rubber is used in everything from balloons to sterile gloves.

A tree usually holds its sap within itself but on occasion it will ’bleed’ over. Such bleeding is usually cased from a build up in carbon dioxide which in turn builds pressure within the tree. If there are any wounds or openings on the tree, the sap will ooze from these. Oozing sap can also be heat related. In early spring, fluctuating temperatures can affect tree sap flow. The warmer weather produces pressure within the tree. During cold weather, the tree pulls water through the roots and replenishes its sap until weather stabilizes.

Trees do not typically leak sap unless they are damaged in some way. Openings within the tree’s bark can be caused from bacterial canker, which is brought on by pruning or freezing. These cankers allow bacteria to penetrate the tree through these openings. This bacteria in turn causes the tree to produce an abnormally high sap pressure, which forces fermented sap out to flow from cracks or opening. Effected trees may demonstrate wilt or dieback on the branches. Slime flux is another bacterial problem characterized by tree sap oozing. Sour-smelling, slimy-looking sap leaks from cracks or wounds on the tree, turning gray as it dries.

Sap has a great amount of value to trees, humans and animals alike.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit

Planting Trees for Shade

Summer is always a reminder of how sweet shade can be. If you are looking to do a little landscaping around your home or business, you may be considering natural forms of shade, such as that provided by trees. So what type of trees should you plant for shade?

There are many types of trees to choose from as almost all trees provide some type of shade. The type of tree you choose could depend largely on where you live, what your climate is like and what temperature zone you are in.

For the very low desert, there are a handful of trees that provide great shade without requiring too much water. These trees include the Chinese Elm, Desert Willow, Mesquite, Texas Mountain-Laurel, Texas Redbud, or Coral Gum. These trees are natural desert growing trees, which make them less susceptible to drought conditions and the heat.

If you live in a higher desert climate there is the blooming silk tree or Mimosa Pudica. One can also choose any trees from the Ash or Fraxinus family. Both of these trees are known for their color with the Ash being even more brilliant during the fall. The Ash also requires little water and has few bug and disease problems.

Living in a climate with plenty of rain, you may want a fast growing shade tree. Such trees include:

1. Sawtooth Oak – The Sawtooth Oak (Quercus acutissima) is an oak originally native to eastern Asia, in China, Korea and Japan. It is closely related to the Turkey Oak. It is characterized by shoot buds surrounded by soft bristles, bristle-tipped leaf lobes, and acorns that mature in about 18 months

The Sawtooth Oak has a beautiful spreading canopy and wonderful late fall foliage that begins as a yellow and then graduates into a golden brown. This tree at maturity can grow as tall as 40 to 50 feet. The Sawtooth likes full sun and is typically grown in zones 5-9.

2. Autumn Blaze Maples – This tree is a combination of the silver maple (Acer saccharinum) and the red maple (Acer rubrum). Its scientific name is Acer freemanii. The tree‘s patented name is Autumn Blaze due to its bright red-orange fall canopy. This tree has become the most sought after tree in the U.S. due to its color and vigor. The growth rate on this tree is 2-4 times faster than rubrum maples. Like many trees, it really comes into its own in the fall.

3. River Birches -Betula nigra (River Birch; also occasionally called Water Birch) is a species of birch native to the eastern United States from New Hampshire west to southern Minnesota, and south to northern Florida and east Texas. It is commonly found in flood plains and/or swamps. This tree grows up to 80 feet in height and on occasion up to 100 feet. These trees are fast growing and have a wonderful yellow foliage in autumn and a year-round beautiful bark. These trees love full-sun and will tolerate partial shade. While its native habitat is wet ground, it will grow on higher land, and its bark is quite distinctive, making it a favored ornamental tree for landscape use.

4. Leyland Cypress Trees – Cupressocyparis leylandii (syn. Callitropsis × leylandii), often referred to as just Leylandii, is a fast-growing evergreen tree much used in horticulture, primarily for hedges and screens. These trees have are known for their rapid and thick growth which means they are sometimes used to enforce privacy, but such use can result in disputes with neighbors whose own property becomes overshadowed.

With these trees, each individual tree is slender, so they are typically planted in a row. Leyland cypress trees are best grown in zones 6-10.

As one can imagine, this short list only represents a small handful of shade trees available for one’s use. The number is limitless, depending on where you live, how fast you want your tree to grow as well as other benefits.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit

Properly Fertilizing Your Trees

Fertilizing your trees is a must if you want to keep them around. What does fertilizing do? It boosts your trees health and in that assists it in fighting off pests, disease and environmental stresses.

If you are asking yourself why trees in a natural habitat live well without somebody fertilizing them- then you have to remember, those trees receive nutrition in different ways. To begin, trees in a natural habitat have access to all the minerals they need to survive and grow. To start, they are constantly receiving mulching from the leaves from prior years. They also are growing in a place where people have not scraped away valuable nutrients- which often happens in subdivisions or places homes exist.

When should you fertilize? The best time to fertilize your trees is from fall to mid-spring. It is during this time that the tree’s roots take the nutrients from the soil and use them. During a trees growing season, you can fertilize to help a tree overcome mineral deficiencies or to fight off disease. The fertilizer should be made up of macronutrients (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) and micronutrients (such as Iron, Magnesium and Manganese). These minerals all have different effects on the growth of a tree and different trees need different formulations.

When fertilizing your tree, you can scatter or drop the fertilizer under the tree’s drip zone. Try not to allow the fertilizer to touch the tree trunk. One should apply between .10 and .20 lbs of nitrogen per 100 square feet. If you put too much fertilizer down or allow it to lay on any part of the tree, it could create fertilizer burn.

If you don’t like the idea of using regular fertilizer and are looking for something organic, this type of fertilizer is also available and just as effective. The biggest difference is that organic fertilizers have a slower release of nutrients and they are often more difficult to find at the store, not to mention more costly. The most common types of organic fertilizers are cottonseed meal, bone meal, manure and chicken litter. As for the amount to apply, read the label carefully.

There is also a fertilizer called inorganic. This type of fertilizer is to be considered the most inexpensive and most frequently used. Inorganic fertilizers are nitrogen based and are made up of sodium nitrate, ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate.

How do you know if your tree is suffering and needs fertilized? The tree will show some one or more of the following symptoms:

* light green or yellow leaves
* leaves with dead spots
* leaves smaller than normal
* fewer leaves and/or flowers than normal
* short, annual twig growth
* dying back of branches at the tips
* wilting of foliage

There are also other reasons why a tree may exhibit these symptoms. A tree could have poor soil aeration or moisture. A tree could have faced adverse climatic conditions; incorrect pH; or disease. Recently transplanted trees and shrubs often will not resume a normal growth rate until the original root system is reestablished. Plants disturbed by construction within the past five to ten years may be in shock and exhibit limited new foliage growth.

Do not assume that an application of fertilizer will quickly remedy any problem which is encountered, in many cases it can make existing problems worse. You should attempt to determine the specific cause in each situation and apply corrective measures.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit

The Deadly Mistletoe

There are many reasons that trees decline in health. One of those reasons is due to organisms that live within trees as either pests or parasites.

Pests and parasites are from two different kingdoms, one the animal and the other the vegetable. The animal kingdom contains insects – insects from all types and sizes, ranging from king-size larvae to microscopic mites. In the vegetable kingdom lives fungi, bacteria and viruses that harm trees. These are all primitive plant forms, with the exception of that lovely parasite, the mistletoe. As lovely as society has made the mistletoe around Christmas, it is one of the deadliest invaders of all.

The mistletoe establishes itself on a trees living tissue through tiny rootlets that have the power to dig in to the skin of the tree like fangs. It finds itself in the tree due to the fact it creates these beautiful waxy berries that birds love, which in turn are carried by them and dropped into bark crevices of other trees. Here these berries germinate under the protection of their own gum. Mistletoe cannot live in soil but must steal its nourishment from a host tree’s sap veins.

As the mistletoe fastens on to its host, the tree begins to swell. No amount of chopping, short of limb amputation, can eradicate a mature mistletoe. Small infested limbs can be removed by pruning. This is one of the more effective control methods. Cut limbs at least 12 inches below the mistletoe. Cuts that are made immediately below the stem of the mistletoe, may leave some of the root system. The remaining haustoria will develop a new top. Mistletoe also grows on large limbs or the tree’s trunk. When growing on a large limb or trunk, remove only the mistletoe. Do not try to scoop out a portion of the host when removing the plant. If a portion of the wood is removed in an attempt to remove the mistletoe roots, the structure of the limb or trunk is weakened and is more susceptible to breakage due to wind or ice accumulation during the winter months. Wood rotting and canker fungi use the cut as an entry point.

The death is slow and painless to the tree. The mistletoe, which loves all trees, can slowly decay everything from elms, hackberries, walnuts, gums and mesquites to mere skeletons. Trees vary in susceptibility to the parasite. Cedar and juniper are not bothered by this plant and pecan, live oak and magnolia trees are seldom infected with mistletoe.

How does one protect their tree from the deadly mistletoe? There may not be anything one can do. Many things have been tried. Herbicides such as Round Up, 2,4,D, Paraquat, MSMA and DSMA have been evaluated in field trials and conducted by members of the Texas Agricultural extension but these were not effective. They also caused injury to the tree. A commercial product called Florel has been approved by the EPA recently. It contains an ethylene compound. Ethylene is a natural occurring plant hormone that increases during fruit ripening. Florel is applied during the winter months and is said to kill the the top but by later summer, new growth is observed breaking through the bark of the limb. The problem with this chemical, as with many chemicals, is that it can drift and expose other trees and plants which can cause leaf shedding.

Another method is to kill the mistletoe before it goes to seed and is transferred to other plants or trees. Mistletoe takes two to three years to reach maturity. If the plant is removed before then, you can keep it from seeding.

When selecting a tree for the landscape, check with a local arborist, nursery or County Extension Agent for trees that are adapted to your area and do not have a major problem with mistletoe.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit