Native trees to consider planting in the Austin area

In order to give some guidelines for which trees to plant with success in the area, this article focuses on tree species native to the area. A separate article focuses on non-native species that grow and thrive in the Austin area, and then to non-native species that thrive here.

I am constantly asked for planting recommendations in the Austin area. Many people plant the wrong trees in the wrong place.  For example, water loving trees (riparian or swamp species) are planted in dry, sunny areas, often close to the road where radiant heat exacerbates their decline. Often trees that cannot survive in rocky soils are planted in heavy limestone. Certain trees, such as loquats or certain palm varieties cannot handle frost in the winter without being wrapped up.

Commonly planted native trees

Live oaks: The most common native Texas tree to this area is of course the live oak.   Although the common native live oaks such as the escarpment and interior live oaks are the two   common local species, the now introduced Louisianaor coastal live oaks, Quercus virginiana, are now cross-pollinating with the local species and creating hybrid live oaks.

The native live oaks are a stronger wooded tree, but much slower growing. By contrast, the virinianas are fast growing and weaker wooded warm winter live oaks. These trees are commonly planted by nurseries and builders in new neighborhoods. The hybrid species the nurseries are now selling have both the characteristics of faster growing live oaks with slightly stronger wood as well. Live oaks can live for hundreds of years under ideal conditions, with some local trees surviving for up to 500 years or more!

Cedar Elms: The second most common native species to this area is the cedar elm. This native, drought tolerant species grows among the live oaks, ashe junipers (cedars) and other trees in greenbelts. These elms have smaller leaves than other elm species, with thicker cuticles to help with the hot, dry climate. They grow thicker than the live oaks, have weaker wood physiologically, and are also less adept at compartmentalizing rot, which leads to more decay pockets in older trees that tend to be more susceptible to storm damage.  In spite of this, the cedar elm is considered the next most valuable tree to the live oak as it lives for up to 100 years or more under ideal conditions and adds considerable value to a property.

Southern red (or Spanish) oaks: I consider the Southern red oak family the next most common local native tree.  Again with much hybridization, the local southern red oak is called the Spanish oak. These trees have adapted to the local limestone slopes and are able to access the iron in the limestone. They live for well over 100 years, especially in deeper soils where they can get quite large, but are mostly found on rocky ridges and slopes where they usually stay smaller due to poorer soil. Spanish oaks growing in these conditions may be much older than they look.

Because they have thin leaves with larger surface area, Spanish oaks do much better in areas where they have shaded root zones and in greenbelts as part of a thick forest canopy. Where the sun bakes the roots, and as edge trees (see Knowledge Center article on Spanish oaks), they often get bacterial leaf scorch from too much heat and inability to retain enough water. I recommend planting them in landscaped rocky areas where little else will grow, and where they can get more water in the summer due to sprinkler irrigation or hand watering, and preferably in shady areas, although they will also thrive in deeper soils.

Texas ash: With a rounder and typically deeper green leaf, this much smaller and relatively short-lived native tree typically is characterized by a single dominant leader. Relative to other trees, this tree is fairly thin and scraggly and one of the shortest-lived native greenbelt trees in the Austin area. They typically have a 15-20 year life cycle (or less).  For this reason, you can often see many dead Texas ash trees within local greenbelt slopes. These trees grow slightly larger and live a little longer in deeper soils with irrigation, but due to their shorter life span typically lose out to other species in most local landscapes. Some native plant purists love them but not many people want to invest in ash trees versus longer lived, more valuable species such as oaks or cedar elms.

Rarely planted native trees

Escarpment black cherry: This is an interesting but rarely planted native species. Most of these trees I encounter are in natural greenbelt areas on slopes or ridge tops. We have pruned them from time to time. They have interesting bark, with lenticels (small holes that act as gas exchange) on the bark that give them an interesting look. They don’t produce fruit, and are not exactly plentiful, but do give some additional diversity.

Due to the limestone here, we have a fairly simple oak/elm/cedar forest here for the most part, with a lot of native understory plants. Some smaller trees, such as the Mexican buckeye are also present, but most of the local plant diversity seems to be in smaller trees and shrubs, and one can learn quite a few of these species by walking trails at Wild Basin, for example.

Overall and in generally favorable conditions, meaning in times of average rainfall and temperatures, any of these trees should do well if planted at your home or business. Of course it’s important to give a newly planted tree extra attention — water and often fertilization — to help ensure its long-term health and growth.

The Drought of 2011: What it means to Central Texas trees

For more than a year now we have had only a few inches of rain. Austin and the surrounding areas and even the entire state are experiencing a severe water deficit. And this isn’t getting any better, as harsher watering restrictions come into play.

No relief yet

What this means is that area trees are under serious stress, and likely will be for the foreseeable future, even as we say goodbye to the triple-digit temper- atures of summer. With the increased restrictions, a lot of trees are not getting any sprinkler water or any supplemental water, which means they are in serious trouble.

By the time the drought in 2009 was over, we’d lost hundreds of trees around the area, including scores of trees in Zilker Park. Many trees appeared to be dead, and we were unsure whether they would re-leaf in the spring. For most of 2010 we were removing dead trees, most of which were pecan trees. Additionally, some live oaks, cedar elms and other species also died and had to be removed.

During these extreme, extensive drought periods, trees that do not have additional water, are in exposed, bare soil areas (no mulch over the root zone), or are in areas that get direct sun on the root zone are extremely susceptible to decline. Radiant heat from the street, driveways, patios and other concrete features can further add to stress.

Stress spares no trees

Many trees turn yellow, many wilt and droop, and the canopies appear thinner and less robust. Trees eventually defoliate and die. All trees go into a semi-dormant state to conserve as much water as possible. Small, absorbing roots die, and then grow back when they finally get rain. Trees with higher water requirements such as maples, box elders, cottonwoods, bald cypress, willows, sycamores, catalpas, silver maples and hackberries are generally the first to die if their water supply dries up or they do not get supplemental water. The tougher native trees in water-stressed settings are the next to go.

In 2009, native pecan trees in the hottest, driest areas such as parks and dry south-facing yards died and defoliated by the hundreds. This was not something we’d seen before. We’d just assumed that these native trees were fairly drought tolerant and could handle the hot, dry summers. What we found was that during three months of 100+ degree temperatures with no rain, all bets were off. Many pecans had 50 or more percent canopy dieback, and we spent a great deal of time in 2010 removing the dead limbs in these canopies.

What you can do to minimize tree stress

So, what can be done?

Water your trees: We recommend that if you are not watering your lawn regularly, you hand water the trees once a week or once every two weeks to help keep them alive. Water only has to get down around 12 inches or so (max) below the surface soil. However, frequency and duration are the important factors during drought summers. The best way to think of it is to mimic rain when you water. Although rainwater is better for trees than chlorinated city water, as it also contains nitrogen, the important thing to note is that it saturates the soil for a prolonged period so the tree can take up enough water to make a difference. If you soak the tree for 15-20 minutes once a week or once every two weeks the frequency will also help.

Protect the root zone: Mulch: A thick layer of mulch, 2-3 inches thick is recommended around the root zone, as far out to the drip line as possible. Mulch helps keep the water in the roots, and also helps insulate the roots from the heat and keeps them cooler. Tree roots are not as deep as many people think. The anchoring woody roots go down typically no more than 2 feet. The small, absorbing roots that are responsible for uptake can typically be found in the top 8-10 inches of soil, in the Austin area they are often much closer to the surface than that.

What to do if damage has occurred

Once severe drought damage has occurred, often the limbs in the upper canopy will die. Once this happens, they will eventually need to be pruned out of the canopy, especially if they are of any size, before they fall. Sometimes we get what we call tip die-back, where smaller diameter twigs die back throughout the canopy. This is often associated with drought conditions, but also with root problems in general.

Water whenever, however you can

Water is obviously the limiting factor. Knowing what species you have and what their water requirements are is also key. Mulching to invigorate the roots and help with water retention is also recommended. Many people I talked to since the last drought had no idea that their trees needed supplemental water. Many people are having to re-think their trees water requirements, and help the trees out a little. It also helps to look up! Is the tree wilting? Losing leaves? Turning yellow? Maybe it’s time to turn on the water!

The bad service black cloud over the Austin area

For years now, as the owner of Central Texas Tree Care here in the Austin area, I have had customer after customer, time and time again, tell me how bad customer service is when dealing with local contractors.  Yes, there appears to be a big black cloud of bad customer service hanging over Central Texas.  Let me preface this by saying that not all businesses give poor service; I don’t.   But, read on and you’ll see what I mean.

People here call contractors who either simply do not call them back at all, or just as frequently, they make an appointment and simply don’t show up.   If they do actually show up, often they still fail to provide the customer with an estimate at all.  Even when they do provide an accepted estimate, they may not show up to begin the work on time, or at all, or it takes twice as long to complete the job than what they tell you it will.  I have heard many stories about contractors walking off the job halfway through with money in hand and never returning.

For years, I always did the work around the house myself.  I am not very good at construction and have no patience, but in my younger years when I had more energy I bought a HUD home and fixed it up.  It wasn’t perfect, but I sold it in three years and turned enough of a profit to put a down payment on a new house in a nicer neighborhood before my kids started school.

After seven years in the new house, we needed some simple handy work done: weather stripping and the front door lock replaced, some crown molding painted, etc.   After calling several Austin businesses and getting no response, we finally decided to try a service that a friend had used and was happy with.   Well, the guy showed up and was very congenial.  We had a good conversation and I told him what we wanted to have done.   He was very passionate about how larger competitors were taking his business away.  After an hour or so, he drove off promising an estimate right away.  (Keep in mind that this was the summer of 2009 at the height of the recession when no one had any work).  Can you see where I am headed with this?  No estimate.  We called and no return phone call.  This was a referral.

Perplexed, I started asking my customers about their experiences.  I am in front of easily 30-40 people a week, many are repeat customers I have known for years.  I started to see a local pattern of terrible customer service by contractors everywhere I went.  Not only had almost everyone I talked to had bad experiences, but most never got return calls or when they did no one showed up.  Many people gave up and resorted to doing the work themselves.

I am continually perplexed whenever I hear about this lack of customer follow-up and service.  A service business is called a ‘service’ business for a reason.  I am extremely passionate about customer service.  Check our reviews on Angies list, and you will see that we are a preferred customer, and are on their ‘A’ list based on customer reviews only.  Our customers generally don’t review us because they get great service.  We are trying to change that.  If you are on our long list of satisfied customers, please take some time out to give us a review.  It will be greatly appreciated!

Austin tree service professional the many creative ways a tree stump can add character to your landscape.'>

Creative Uses of Tree Stumps

Stump removal and stump grinding are widely accepted ways of getting rid of the remainders of what used to be a tree. Most consider a stump unsightly and prefer to have it removed or ground by a professional landscaping service. But there are also clever ways to use or design an existing tree stump to your landscape’s advantage.

Depending upon the overall circumference and height of a tree stump, consider using it as a part of your landscaping furniture. An appropriately sized tree stump can serve as either an organic lawn chair or table. Add personal touches to provide decorum and comfort. A water-resistant chair cover can be placed upon a stump to provide cushion for those who sit upon it, or a plastic tablecloth can be added to add a homey touch for a picnic or outdoor barbeque.

Tree stumps that are not large enough to accommodate any manner of organic furniture can be used in other creative ways.

With careful use of woodworking tools, aesthetic designs can be carved into a tree stump. For the more experienced woodworker or artist, replicas of one’s home and property, landscapes, wildlife, the first initial of the family surname or a favorite sports team’s logo can be designed. For the more novice woodworker or artist, simpler designs can be accomplished. Basic curlicues or shapes should be easy enough for the novice to design while still adding texture, depth and character to the stump.

A tree stump can also be used in ways to support wildlife, much like a feeder. Carve an opening into the top of the stump, and line it with plastic to prevent moisture and molding, as well as to assist in easily changing out types of feed. Then, fill the opening with bird or squirrel feed. Collect nuts, seeds or dried corn cobs, and place them in the stump for squirrels.

Alternatively, carve out the top of the stump deeply and widely enough to accommodate the dimensions of a shallow bowl that can be filled with rainwater, or tap water during times of drought, to serve as a birdbath. Other wildlife, such as squirrels or deer, may find it beneficial, too. The use of a bowl allows the property owner control and ease when it comes to changing out the water. This is especially important during the summer months when standing water becomes stagnant and may create a breeding ground for unwanted insects like mosquitoes.

For those who care to provide food, water and other provisions for wildlife, surrounding trees within the vicinity of a stump that acts as a feeder or birdbath are advantageous because they provide cover. This is a virtual guarantee that you will always have the pleasure of wildlife watching no farther away than your own landscape. A professional Austin tree trimming service can assist in the proper trimming of limbs to maintain the viability and structural integrity of your trees while still providing you with visibility to the wildlife that visit your property.

Finally, consider using a stump for planting. A well-carved stump can be filled with soil and have flowers planted in it. Leave the carved opening empty, add potted plants, and change them out according to the seasons. For example, add tulips during the spring or poinsettias during the winter. Or, have a constant state of greenery by planting moss or ivy on the stump instead.

An experienced Austin tree care service can remove a stump if you so desire. Otherwise, there are many ways to make a stump as unique as the family on whose property it exists.

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

Trees as Gifts

With the holiday season just around the corner, people are thinking more and more outside of the box these days regarding the gifts they give. Environmentally conscious gift givers are turning to the unique idea of giving trees as gifts. While this is a mindset that is still up and coming, some organizations, such as The Arbor Day Foundation, are already on board, offering trees available for purchase as gifts on their website.

For those who aren’t quite as knowledgeable as they’d like to be regarding landscaping issues, there are many online resources that will help you to determine the hardiness of the particular species you wish to give, as well as online maps that define which regions are most appropriate for species based on average temperatures. Or you can always consult the expertise of an Austin arborist for guidance. These research options are especially helpful if the region in which the recipient resides is different from the one in which the giver resides or if the giver is uncertain of any similarities or differences in regional climate.

Trees can be purchased at local nurseries, which is advantageous, as the purchaser has opportunity to speak on-site with a professional and gain insights about the selections available to them. Or trees can be purchased online from reputable organizations. Those trees purchased online are generally shipped in plastic tubing that may be customized to fit the sentiments of the giver and aligned with the occasion.

And the occasions for giving trees as gifts are as numerous as the people who give them. Consider giving a gift tree for such events as Christmas, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, or other life changes, such as the birth of a child, work promotions, or the purchase of a home.

Look for organizations whose packaging also adds to the gift-giving experience. For instance, The Arbor Day Foundation website advertises that the tubing in which gift trees are mailed can be recycled and used as a bird feeder. For the environmentally conscious giver or receiver, this is yet another way to care for the environment and for wildlife.

If you are the recipient of such a unique gift, an Austin tree trimming professional can assist you with the upkeep and maintenance of your tree.

Advantages of giving a tree as a gift are added value to one’s landscape, longevity of both the gift and the giver’s sentiments through overall health (secondary to proper upkeep), and an improved global environment from the planting of new trees.

Whether you are giving or receiving a gift tree, consult an Austin tree care expert with your questions about planting, hardiness, and maintenance.

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

Winter Color: Lacebark Pine

After the rich colors of autumn have gone, winter certainly has a hard act to follow. Without a doubt, the season doesn’t reflect a lot of life or color. There are ways to incorporate some color into your landscape during the winter months, however. By working with an Austin arborist, you can learn which trees provide color during even the dreariest of seasons. One such tree is the lacebark pine.

Though most colors are generally associated with a tree’s blooms, the lacebark pine is quite unique, as the colors that it emanates come not from a bloom, but from the tree’s trunk.

Lacebark pine is a tree with gray bark that eventually sheds in irregular patterns, revealing multiple colors, including cream, purple, yellow, and green, underneath. It is this feature that provides some much needed and often appreciated color to an otherwise bleak winter landscape.

The tree also grows dark green needles that it keeps year-round for several consecutive years before they are replaced naturally. Because of this, the constant greenery adds a touch of color to a mundane winter landscape as well.

The availability of color is amplified by yet another unique feature of the lacebark pine, multiple trunks. By the very number of trunk stems a lacebark pine has, the colorful effect of the peeling bark is quite prevalent.

Since the limbs of the tree tend to grow in an upright fashion along the entire length of the tree, some of the lower branches will likely need to be pruned to reveal the array of eye-catching colors that lie beneath. A professional Austin tree trimming professional will be a great asset in removing damaged branches, as he/she will have the knowledge and proper equipment necessary to assist with this task, especially since lacebark pines may grow up to 50 feet tall with a sizeable spread at maturity.

By and large, this species is quite resistant to insects and diseases, making it a great choice to add to any landscape. One insect it is quite susceptible to, however, is the European pine shoot moth, which is responsible for destroying new stems. An Austin tree care professional can work with you to remove limbs that are dead or dying due to an infestation, as well as to treat the infestation.

Although a lacebark pine takes many years to reach full maturity, with proper maintenance, it is capable of living for many years. Lacebark pine trees make a wonderful addition to family property, allowing generation after generation to witness their growth and longevity.

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

American Holly Trees

By its very nature, holly is linked to Christmas. If you are planning to add trees to your landscape, enjoy the Christmas spirit year round by adding an American holly tree or two!

Some of the advantages of American holly trees include their variations in size. Based on the particulars of the species that you select, American holly can be grown as a tall shrub or a large tree.

When used as a shrub, the trees should be planted approximately five feet from one another. As the branches grow, their spread tends to provide a dense growth that is ideal for privacy. When grown as a hedge, holly trees can be used in lieu of a privacy fence at a fraction of the expense and a lot less maintenance. A hedge makes for a great property or noise barrier or windbreak. Like other trees, however, they can also be planted and grown individually.

One of the features American holly trees are best known for is their beautiful red berries. This is the feature that is perhaps most likened to the Christmas season. Used in holiday crafts and decorations, proximity to holly makes the Christmas spirit no farther than your own yard. Clip the branches and the berries for your holiday embellishments.

And during the bleakness of the winter months, the berries on holly trees add color to your landscape and attract wildlife, including cardinals, cedar waxwings, robins and bluebirds, which eat the berries and seek shelter in their dense branches.

However, holly trees also provide color throughout other seasons, too. White blooms are visible during the spring, and because the tree is an evergreen, the beautiful green foliage is present year round.

Hire an Austin tree trimming professional to assist you with properly trimming your holly trees and keep them healthy and well-maintained all year long.

Other than routine proper trimming, American holly trees are rather low maintenance. They require little watering and grow well in full shade or partial shade, making them well-adapted to many of the growing zones found in the continental United States. They are even resistant to disease and insects, making them an overall healthy species to select for planting and keeping your landscape free of insects in pursuit of their output.

If you have questions regarding growing American holly trees in your region or, specifically, on your property, contact an Austin tree care professional, who can advise you on the appropriate type of soil, as well as the appropriate amount of water and sunlight, necessary for maintaining a beautiful holly tree.

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

Trees and Fences

With proper care and routine maintenance, landscaping trees and fences are often two of the items that most add value to one’s property. The value may be measured monetarily or through the provision of privacy or environmental-consciousness. But how might trees and fences be negatively affected when they co-exist? Here are a few things to consider.

When adding a fence to your property with existing trees, it is important to consider several things.

First, consider the average root growth of the species. What’s the average expansion of the feeder roots, or the roots that expand horizontally? Will construction of a fence interfere with their growth or viability? It goes without saying that if this is indeed the case, the overall health of the landscaping trees may be impacted. Damage to roots, which are the trees’ life source, can lead to devastating results.

Second, consider the average size of the tree’s canopy. This will give you a general idea of the overhang of the tree’s branches. Then, consider the normal weather conditions for your area. Is it prone to damaging weather conditions, such as high winds, torrential rains, heavy snow or ice? If so, it is important that the limbs be properly and routinely trained, as dead or dying tree limbs often succumb to such harsh weather conditions and may damage your fence in the process.

Aside from this fact, trimming and other proper care of a tree helps sustain its viability and longevity. Contact an Austin tree trimming professional to help maintain unruly or unhealthy branches on your landscaping trees.

Conversely, if you are adding trees to a landscape with an existing fence, many of these same considerations should also be made.

An Austin arborist can help determine not only which trees would be best suited for your soil, but also where the best place on the landscape would be for a tree to be planted. Roots can upset foundations and uproot fences and walkways. Working with a bona fide professional can help determine the best distance a tree should be from a fence, home, sidewalk or another tree to prevent damage or intertwining roots.

With existing fences, assistance determining the appropriate distance of a tree is also particularly valuable because any branches that may overhang a privacy fence onto a neighbor’s property can become a legal gray area. Additionally, if a neighbor’s privacy fence is already established and aligns your property, thereby lessening the fence sections required of you, those sections, then, are technically the property of your neighbor. If damage to their section of the fence is caused by branches from any of your trees, the possibility exists that you may be held legally responsible for repairs. A reputable and licensed Austin tree trimming professional can help you maintain the structural integrity of your tree by correctly trimming weakened or susceptible branches.

Carefully consider where to place a privacy fence or a tree. Then, work with an Austin tree care specialist to maintain optimum health and growth of your trees, and protect other areas of your property, and possibly others’, in the process.

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

Austin tree service or read this article to learn what to look for when selecting a live Christmas tree.'>

Selecting a Live Christmas Tree

With the holidays quickly approaching, many will soon be making their Christmas tree selection. Some choose to decorate their homes with artificial trees, but some prefer the scent and woodsy look of a live Christmas tree. The smell of fir, cedar or pine that permeates a home and the beauty of twinkling lights upon their branches is often what radiates the Christmas spirit to those whose general preference lends itself to a live tree. If you decide that a live tree is what you desire this holiday season, here are some tips for making the best selection possible.

First, determine the size that works best for the space where you will place the tree. Ensure that the tree will not be too large or too small, in both height and width, for the area where you plan to set up the tree. A tree that is too large may damage furniture, scrape ceilings or obstruct views. A tree that is too small, while less likely to cause any manner of damage, may not be as aesthetically appealing if it is consumed by a large space. Therefore, before you go to a tree farm to select your Christmas tree, determine where it will be placed, and be certain that you’ve carefully and accurately measured that area.

Also, take great care to ensure that the area where you wish to place the tree is away from sources of heat or electricity, such as fireplaces or televisions. While living Christmas trees are a beauty to behold when brought indoors and decorated, they do carry a risk for flammability when placed near potentially hazardous areas.

Second, research Christmas tree blogs to get an idea about the kind of tree that you’re most interested in displaying. Generally, firs, cedars and pines are popular choices. Consider color, density and even smell. Having an idea of the kind of tree you want beforehand allows you and your family to enjoy this rare experience together rather than stressing over too many choices or blatant uncertainty.

Third, briefly research the diseases that may affect the kind of tree you’re interested in. Knowing which diseases a particular species may be affected by also allows you to know what to look for that might indicate an unhealthy tree. Obviously, an unhealthy tree may be less likely to make it through the holiday season. In Austin, Texas, contact an Austin tree trimming specialist or other professional who routinely and diligently works with trees for insight into other possible diseases or problems relative to the species of your choice.

Finally, know what to look for at the tree farm. Unless they’re diseased in some way, trees that you cut should be relatively healthy since they are whole, intact and connected to their life source. Trees that are pre-cut, however, may need to be more closely examined before selection. Be certain that the needles appear healthy and green. Brown or discolored needles may be indicative of a problem. Likewise, the needles shouldn’t feel brittle or break off easily when touched. Some Christmas tree blogs recommend lifting the tree by the stem and allowing it to gently hit the ground. Only inner needles should fall off upon impact, and a minimal amount of them at that. Any outer needles that fall off may also be an indicator of an unhealthy tree.

If you have additional questions or concerns related to the health or safety of a live Christmas tree, contact an Austin tree care specialist.

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

Recycling Christmas Trees

The holiday season is upon us, and it seems consumers and retailers alike begin the Christmas celebration earlier these days than in years past. With that in mind, it’s important for the environmentally-conscious to consider ways in which to recycle real Christmas trees when the holidays pass.

First, contact a local Christmas tree recycling organization. Inquire about pickup dates and times following the holiday season when trees will be collected. Inquire about whether curbside pickup will be available or if you will need to load up the tree and carry it to a recycling drop off location.

Also, be certain to inquire about the condition in which trees must be collected. Most likely, trees will need to have all traces of decoration, including lights, garland, foil icesicles and ornaments, removed. This is for the protection of those collecting the trees, as well as for any equipment that may be used in the recycling process. In other words, the Christmas tree will most likely need to be in its raw, natural form.

If an organization devoted to Christmas tree recycling does not exist in your city, contact local recycling companies or local municipal offices to inquire what the city may offer or have knowledge of with regard to Christmas tree recycling options. Sometimes municipalities may offer a seasonal drop off location for Christmas tree recycling or may work in conjunction with arborists, tree farms, botanical entities, forestry commissions or greenhouses for recycling purposes.

Second, consider working with an Austin arborist or other professional who has access to the necessary equipment and have your Christmas tree turned to mulch. Use the mulch on your landscape. Place it around the trunks of landscaping trees or add it to flower beds. If you have no need for the mulch, but want to use this method as a means of recycling your tree, consider giving the mulch to a neighbor who could use it or donating it to a local tree company or municipality department, such as urban management or parks and recreation, that could put it to good use.

Third, the bark of the trees can be used for chipping. Again, if you cannot use the results of chipping, but want to use this as a means of tree recycling, offer the chips to a neighbor who can use them, a local school, church, or business, or a municipality department. You may also find that areas with nature or hiking trails may be interested in acquiring the chips to align the paths. For the best results, hire an Austin tree trimming professional to generate useful chips.

A local horticulturalist may also have use for or benefit from either donated mulch or wood chips. Contact one to see if they accept donated material from your recycled Christmas tree.

Finally, consider how the wood from the tree, itself, may be recycled into useful and functional purposes. Consider donating the wood to a local woodworker or to a woodworking or art teacher who can make use of the wood teaching classes, especially those for children, the elderly, or the disadvantaged. Contact local schoolteachers you may know about any science lessons regarding trees or recycling. Or contact an Austin tree care specialist for other ideas about how the wood could best be used, either as a part of your landscape or in other creative, useful ways.

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