Understanding the Natural Light Requirements of Trees

Much information has been written about the necessary requirements of trees in order to ensure their survival. These requirements generally include oxygen, water, and sunlight. Just as species of trees require differing amounts of water, so do they also require differing amounts of sunlight. This fact is sometimes overlooked. Perhaps this is why nurseries and other entities that sell trees typically label them with not only the water requirements specific to the species of tree, but also with the sun requirements specific to the species of tree as well. Let’s examine the typical natural light requirements of trees.

Full sun is perhaps the most self-descriptive requirement. A tree that requires full sun generally requires at least six hours of full exposure to sunlight, sometimes more. However, it’s important to pay careful attention to the water requirements of a tree that thrives best in full sun. Although full sun may be its preferred growing environment, without sufficient water, the exposure to prolonged heat can be detrimental to the tree’s liveliness.

Partial sun, sometimes used interchangeably with partial shade, is considered the middle ground of natural light requirements. Trees that require partial sun typically require at least three to six hours of sunlight each day. It has been suggested that a tree determined to need partial sun requires at least the minimum recommended amount of sunlight, while a tree determined to need partial shade requires respite from the heat, especially that produced in the hottest hours of the day.

If planting a tree requiring partial shade is planned for your property, consider planting it in an area sure to receive some shade throughout the day. Such an area may include safely in the shadow of a more mature tree or tree line or in an area of the landscape that receives sunlight for the recommended amount of time, but shade at some point as well. If you are unsure if these areas exist on your property, carefully and consistently monitor sunlight and shade patterns for several weeks before planting to determine where such an area may exist on your property and whether or not its sunlight and shade exposure will be sufficient. Consult an Austin arborist if you have questions.

Full shade is the last of the natural light requirements of trees and is also quite self-descriptive. However, full shade trees should not be mistaken for not requiring sunlight at all. In fact, very few plants can thrive with no amount of sunlight. Instead, full shade trees essentially refers to those that require three hours or less of direct sunlight each day.

If you are planting trees that require partial or full shade, seek the expertise of an Austin tree trimming professional before trimming proximal trees, as the elimination of any protection made available by them may negatively impact the newly planted trees once strategic limbs are trimmed or even removed.

If you have questions concerning the amount of natural sunlight a species of tree on your property requires or the balance of sufficient water as based on the sunlight and heat exposure the tree may receive, contact an Austin tree care service for assistance.

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

Dealing With Exposed Roots

Tree roots typically grow within the first 18 inches of soil. This may come as quite a shock to some individuals, as the size of some trees almost make this a mind boggling fact. It would seem, especially with larger trees, that more depth would be required of the roots for much needed stability. However, this is typically not the case.

Sinker roots typically grow down into the ground and provide anchoring, and lateral roots grow horizontally and function as the lifeline of the tree. It is the lateral roots that are responsible for the provision of water, nutrients, and oxygen.

Occasionally lateral roots can become exposed. These are sometimes referred to as surface roots. This may happen for several reasons. Perhaps the most common reason for this is erosion, or the gradual removal of the soil that once covered the roots. Erosion results from weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall or winds, soil compaction, and the natural growth of the tree. For instance, as the lateral roots grow in strength and circumference, this causes the soil to wear away. Surface roots may also become such because the tree is trying to access more of what may be lacking, such as sunlight or oxygen, to ensure its survival.

Exposed roots have the potential to cause any number of problems.

When roots, including lateral roots, become exposed and are less secure in the ground, there is more potential for a tree to become windblown in high winds. Toppled trees may cause damage to homes, vehicles, power lines, or other property. It would likely require professional assistance to remove a toppled tree with the utmost care in order to avoid other damages in the process. Contact an Austin tree trimming specialist for assistance in such an instance.

Exposed roots also risk being damaged by lawn mowers, edgers, or other lawn care equipment. Over time, repeated damage to the roots in such a manner may weaken the tree or even kill it. This may result from the roots’ inability to continue nourishing the tree or from insect-induced diseases, such as oak wilt.

So what, then, is the best way to deal with exposed roots?

Most research recommends that it is best to use mulch as a cover. The organic materials contained within mulch that breakdown over time only serve to provide continued nourishment to the tree while, dually, providing a cover for the exposed roots.

Attempting to replant grass in the eroded area would likely be unsuccessful, as the any re-growth is almost certain to meet the same fate as that which previously grew there.

The addition of soil is also not recommended. Frequently, those with the best of intentions add so much soil that the exposed roots are no longer able to obtain sufficient amounts of oxygen and, therefore, suffocate as a result.

Additionally, removal of the roots should be ruled out as a consideration. It goes without saying that the removal of even a part of a tree’s lifeline can lead to a disastrous outcome.

If any landscaping trees on your property show signs of surface roots and you have questions or concerns regarding how best to treat them while still maintaining the overall integrity of the tree, consult an Austin tree care specialist for guidance.

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

Heavy Equipment and Trees

Austin homeowners often make use of the warmer summer months to complete home improvement projects. These projects may include the addition of new rooms, expansions of existing rooms, installing a pool, or building new storage units, such as a detached garage. New additions or improvements typically add value to a home. However, a well cared for lawn, including landscaping trees, also adds value to a home.

Whatever the home improvement project, two things are certain. First, there will likely be a need for the use of some heavy equipment to complete the project(s). And second, there must be a balance between the care of the indoor and outdoor components in order to maintain the overall intrinsic value of the property.

If a home addition or improvement project is in your future this summer, here are some things to consider.

Bear in mind that projects or improvements to the home itself may require the use of certain heavy machinery, and this may still indirectly affect surrounding landscaping trees. Depending upon the proximity of the location of the project to the landscaping trees, inadvertent scrapes to the trunk may occur. In places like Austin, Texas, oak wilt disease is not only prevalent, but is also easily transmitted by such incidents. Always exercise caution.

If at all possible, plan to surround the trees with a temporary barrier, such as a mesh or small wooden fence. This is an excellent visual cue to assist in the provision of some distance between your valuable trees and the hired workers, who will be focused on completing the task at hand and will be less familiar with your landscape.

Consider, too, that even if the site of the home addition or improvement project isn’t so proximal to any landscaping trees that it appears any damage could be done, it still may be possible. Depending upon the species of the landscaping trees, it must be remembered that the roots of a tree grow horizontally, often two to three times the circumference of the canopy. This means that the roots of a tree with a 20 foot canopy may extend anywhere from 40 to 60 feet beyond the tree. By all appearances, it may seem that a tree is safe from any possibility of damages when, in fact, it may still be vulnerable.

With this in mind, if the size of your lawn and the spacing between landscaping trees allow, try to establish a walkway/workway that minimizes both foot traffic and the weight of the necessary equipment on areas where roots may be located.

If limbs are in the way of an impending project, contact an Austin tree trimming service to assist with their appropriate removal. Hiring a licensed and reputable professional ensures the continued viability and integrity of the tree.

Additionally, if limbs are in the way of an impending project, but won’t necessarily be problematic once the project is complete, consult an Austin arborist regarding how best to temporarily and safely suspend the limbs until the project is complete.

Home improvement projects may also include changes to the landscape, such as the addition of new trees or aerating the lawn. Before planting or aerating, be mindful of the possibility of roots from nearby trees that may extend toward or into the project area. Also, when aerating, use extra caution when working near the trunks of trees to avoid damaging them.

If there are ever any doubts or concerns as you plan, or even after you’ve begun, home improvement projects, contact an Austin tree care service for assistance and guidance.

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

Tree Care Gone Wrong

Countless articles have been written describing the importance of routine care and maintenance of landscaping trees. There is good reason for this. These articles typically address such matters as trees’ chances of thriving being increased when they are tended to with such care, how routine care is a prudent way to protect the overall value of a property, specifically that of a homeowner, and the importance of selecting a professional arborist to assist with any issues that may arise. Of all the articles written about tree care, however, perhaps a rather understated topic is what stands to be lost when a professional arborist is not utilized. Here are some examples of what may go wrong when a licensed, insured professional is not called upon for assistance.

Easily, one of the most foreseeable issues to contend with is property damage. While accidents are possible for any individual completing tree care, the chances are greatly increased when anyone other than a professional arborist is hired to do the job. Throw in the possibility that this non-professional is also unlicensed and uninsured, and the likelihood of a costly mess looms higher than any tree canopy. Personal property that may be damaged includes homes, automobiles, power lines, or, even worse, damage done to any of these on a neighbor’s property. Needless to say, should this last scenario ever come to fruition, legal implications, in addition to any monetary ones, also exist.

Although damages often result from falling limbs, they may also exist from inappropriate actions taken on the ground as well. Consider oak wilt. In Austin, Texas, oak wilt is an unfortunate, but relatively common problem. Since it can be transmitted from a diseased tree to a healthy tree through grafted (intertwined) roots, a common means of preventing its spread is through trenching. However, performed by the wrong person, this action, meant to stop this progressive disease, may instead result in a failure to not only save healthy trees, but may also result in the disruption of septic tanks, underground utilities, water lines, or proximal tree roots, or may even cause foundational damage to a home.

Other sometimes costly inconveniences to consider include privacy fence damage or the disruption or destruction of an underground pet fence. Gone unrepaired or unnoticed, the costs associated with such problems may not only be monetary, but also emotional. Sadly, a small child could easily escape the safe confines of his/her yard or a beloved pet could do the same. Avoid limbs falling onto and damaging privacy fences by contacting a knowledgeable, licensed, and insured Austin tree trimming professional.

While these are not pleasant scenarios to dwell on, the investment made in protecting private property, including loved ones and landscaping trees, should also be of the utmost importance to anyone hired to perform a job. If it is not, or if you sense that someone is merely looking to make a quick profit with little regard for safety or the quality of work, certainly proceed with a buyer beware mindset. Maximize the protection of your property and minimize your risk of liability by consulting only a qualified and experienced Austin tree care expert.

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

Common Complications Growing Fruit Trees

Landscaping trees are an integral part of our personal properties. Wisely chosen and appropriately placed, they provide both function and beauty. In this era of tough economic times, many are reverting to the ways of previous generations and growing their own food, including the fruit grown on trees. Like other non-bearing landscaping trees, fruit trees, too, are both functional and beautiful. The fruit yielded is nourishing and the blooms, colorful and aromatic. Because many rely on the output of fruit trees to help stock their pantries, add to favorite family recipes, and help cut down on overall grocery expense, it is important to know several of the common complications that may be experienced when growing fruit trees in order to reap the “fruits” of one’s labor.

Perhaps one of the most anticipated complications experienced when growing fruit trees are pests. After all, man is not the only one who greatly values the sweet goodness of tree fruit! Pests may include mites, moths, and larger animals, such as birds and squirrels. Some research indicates that chances of destruction of fruit crops may be lessened by encouraging natural predators of the pests in the area. In other words, carefully researching which pests are likely to affect your fruit trees can also help you determine which of their predators could keep their presence limited or non-existent.

Consider water absorption as a possible common complication as well. If soil does not drain well, then it is quite likely the tree is negatively impacted. Standing water is essentially a sign that the roots are unable to obtain the appropriate nutrients, including oxygen, from the soil. Lack of oxygen is an unmistakable way for the fruit tree to perish. Conversely, if soil is too dry, this may be an indicator of poor soil on a smaller-scale or regional drought conditions on a larger scale. Either way, the problem remains the same: If water is unable to penetrate the soil, the fruit tree is likely to perish.

All trees are susceptible to disease, including fruit trees. If left untreated, the fruit tree, like any other tree, may succumb to partial or total death. With a fruit tree, this in turn results in less, or no, fruit yielded. With proper care, however, a diseased tree may still beat the odds. Contact an Austin tree trimming professional for assistance. He/she will be able to address a tree’s chances of survival if a diseased section is properly removed or will be able to determine if the tree will result in a total loss. An Austin tree removal professional can assist if the tree needs to be removed.

Another quite common problem to anticipate when growing fruit trees is frost. Many times, fruit crops are damaged or lost altogether when blooms are affected by a late frost. The harsh temperatures associated with frost are rough on the early, tender blooms of fruit trees. There are a few precautions that can be taken to shield a fruit tree’s early blooms from a potentially devastating late frost. Cover the trees with burlap or sackcloth to help insulate them by holding in warmth. Use materials, bought or any scrap ones that are already on hand, to build a makeshift housing unit to help keep frost off the blooms, as well as to shield the tree from any cold winds.

Other creative options exist. Contact an Austin tree care specialist to learn and understand the many methods that can be employed to shield fruit trees from common complications.

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

Landscaping Trees and Property Line Issues

Landscaping trees that grow on or near property lines can be quite tricky when it comes to trimming or removal. This scenario can become a little more complicated when it comes to variations in law between states and even between counties or parishes within those states. The primary legal overture, however, appears to be that disagreements regarding trees on property lines are a civil issue and should be handled as such.

Although specifics may vary between locales, most available information suggests that the property upon which a tree’s trunk sits designates the rightful owner of the tree. However, there are considerations for non-owners as well. Consider that tree branches, including their blooms or fruits, that overhang the property of a neighbor not legally designated as the tree’s owner may be trimmed by the non-owner for several reasons. Primarily, a non-owner has the legal right to protect his or her property from any damage that may be incurred from a tree, whether on the ground or within property airspace. This may include such things as weakened limbs that may collapse or heavy limbs that overhang their residence, vehicles, or power lines. These can easily become safety issues, costly financial woes, or legal disputes between the most agreeable of neighbors.

Additionally, most available information also suggests that a non-owner has the right to trim or remove overhanging branches if their presence is deemed a nuisance. For instance, an overhanging branch that hinders the light from a street light may be considered such. In Austin, Texas, contact an highly experienced Austin tree trimming professional to assist you with removing problematic limbs while still maintaining the integrity of the tree.

It is recommended that neighbors work together to determine what courses of action may be taken to amicably resolve property line issues. Unfortunately, however, remaining disputes or lack of resolution may require legal intervention. This may be especially true if the trunk of a tree actually divides properties. In most legal instances, this makes all owners, whose properties are divided by the tree, players in a perplexing and sometimes very complicated legal situation. This makes it important to have at least a rudimentary understanding of the usual legal perspective on the issue.

If you attempt to achieve resolution, but find that a neighbor is obstinate regarding the issue, it is likely in your best interest to seek legal intervention before taking any action on a tree. After all, it is better to have the legal backing and assurances on your side before proceeding with action than to later learn your actions may have been contrary to state or local policies regarding the matter.

There are preventative measures that can be taken to avoid such issues in the future. For instance, a new homeowner whose landscape is not yet developed may choose to plant trees in locations that will not greatly impact neighboring properties. Consider the tree species you’d like to plant on your property and research their average growth. This includes the span of the canopy, the trunk circumference, and the expansion of the roots underground. Also, consider how the roots of trees near property lines may impact you legally should disease, such as Austin oak wilt, become an issue, as the disease may impact a neighbor’s tree, too, if the roots are intertwined.

If questions remain after researching the issue, consult the expertise of an Austin tree care company. They can likely assist you with determining whether or not the species you desire to plant, as well as where you’d like to plant them on your property, will be troublesome in the future.

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

Preparation for Hurricanes

As both fun and relaxation sweep in with summer in Austin, Texas, so do the threats of varying dangerous weather patterns. Excessive heat and drought often accompany summer. On the flip side, flooding is sometimes an issue as well. This could result from heavy mid-western winter snows that finally melt and make their way down country or from localized heavy rain events. Hurricanes are another weather phenomena that shouldn’t be overlooked during the summer months. Undoubtedly, they bring with them incredibly forceful winds and torrential rains. When a hurricane is predicted to make landfall in your region, it is important that precautions are taken to protect your landscaping trees, home, and other personal property.

Before hurricane season officially begins, take a look at the landscaping trees on your property. Specifically, it is important to examine the structure of the trees. Are there weak limbs already on the verge of collapse? Is there verifiable damage to the trunk that perhaps makes the tree weak? If so, these are situations in which a weakened tree would likely have a difficult time sustaining itself during heavy winds and rain. Pruning or, in worst case scenarios, removing the tree may be worthy considerations in order to prevent greater property damage or cleanup or repair expense following a hurricane. An Austin tree removal professional can assist with this task.

In addition to considering the location of the landscaping trees on your property, it is equally as important to consider the trees’ locations relative to other structures. For instance, does a weakened tree or tree limb perhaps hang just above your rooftop or near glass windows? Your vehicles or carport? Your storage shed or privacy fence? A weakened tree or tree limb has the potential to rip away shingles or even collapse into your home, creating considerable structural damage; to break through glass windows; to crush a vehicle, eradicating a usually costly and necessary means of transportation; or to damage stored property or property lines. An Austin tree trimming expert can assist you with such considerations and how best to lessen the chances of hurricane-related damage.

Yet another scenario to consider is the condition of the area immediately surrounding the trees. Particularly, are the roots deeply set into the surrounding soil or are they considerably exposed? This could greatly affect the tree’s stability and ability to withstand hurricane-force winds. Is the soil around the tree trunk weatherworn? Erosion at the base of the tree could potentially allow rainfall to accumulate there. This may account for any number of problems, including the inability of the tree to receive sufficient oxygen, essentially drowning it, or the creation of a breeding ground for pesky summer insects, like mosquitoes. Consult an Austin tree care service to assist you in determining how even base-level conditions may affect a tree’s vitality during the stress of a hurricane.

Although we certainly want to protect our property, including our landscaping trees, it’s important to remember that those trees which are structurally sound not only have a better chance of withstanding a hurricane‘s fury, but also promote the overall protection of other property structures, eventually and collectively diminishing a hurricane and its damaging effects. Because they serve such a purpose, caring for our trees before hurricane season begins is critical to their ultimate survival. Consult an Austin arborist to assist in your hurricane season preparations.

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

Safely Grilling Near Trees

Summer is typically a season of relaxation with events like family reunions, vacations to the beach, and backyard barbecues. However, it’s important to be always aware of safety when it comes to grilling. Perhaps one of the most often overlooked aspects of grilling safety involves that done proximal to landscaping shrubbery and trees. If caution is not exercised, the landscapes we work so hard to achieve may be utterly destroyed in a comparatively short amount of time.

When it comes to grilling, it is important to make certain that sufficient distance is placed between the grill and surrounding objects. These objects may include a home, an outbuilding, such as a storage shed or barn, and overhanging limbs. For safety’s sake, it is widely recommended that there be at least 10 feet between the open flame of a grill and any surrounding objects.

Sufficient distance from the grill should also be applied to foot traffic. This includes anyone who is not directly responsible for grilling, children, and even pets. Each brings with it an element of the possibility for error with potentially disastrous results.

It’s also important to consider the surroundings in which the grilling takes place. Even with the recommended distance of 10 feet between the grill and other objects, danger may still exist. To lessen the chances of hazard, always grill on a surface that does not readily support a burning fire, such as concrete. Never grill in a garage or carport, near the eaves of a home, in a gazebo, or on a deck.

Likewise, always consider weather conditions before grilling as well. For instance, windy conditions may easily cause a fire to come into contact with brush, dry lawn clippings, or downed tree limbs and quickly become a danger to both life and property. For this very reason, never grill directly under a tree with weakened, dying, or dead limbs. An unfortunate wind may collapse onto the grill or the griller below. Enhance the overall safety of your property by securing the services of an Austin tree trimming professional to help rid your landscaping trees of such limbs.

Those doing the grilling should also take great care at all times, no matter how experienced he/she may be. Never presume that experience will prevent the sometimes unpreventable. It is advisable to keep alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, or any other combustible material away from the open flame in the event of inadvertent exposure, such as a spill. A wise cook will never leave a grill, and it’s open flame, unattended, either.

If you are considering the addition of a grilling area to your property, contact an Austin tree care service, who can assist with planning for safety and the preservation of your trees if digging or pruning are necessary to accommodate your design goals. And in the event that it is required, an Austin tree removal specialist can assist with the safe, complete removal of a tree and its stump, if so desired.

Before summer comes around, spend some time in careful thought about what measures can be taken to make your landscape safer. A little forethought can certainly make the days of summer more carefree and enjoyable.

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

Protecting Trees While Installing a Pool

Traditionally, trees are responsible for some of the comforts we experience during summer’s heat. They offer shade and provide cool breezes. However, for some, a pool offers some refreshment as well. If a home eventually goes on the market for sale, a pool typically adds to the property’s value. But this is true, too, of a well maintained landscape. It is possible to have both a beautiful landscape and an in-ground pool on a lot, but great care must be made to insure both.

Begin by examining the desired location of the pool. This includes carefully examining the location of trees on the property Using similar properties as examples and a knowledgeable, professional contractor to install the pool, determine if the desired location is in fact the best location. Perhaps it is, but significant problems may arise if it isn’t.

Determine if the pool is to be placed near any landscaping tree. If so, consider the species of the tree, as this will help to surmise the size the tree will be at maturity. This is quite valuable information, as it may give an overall estimate to the length of the roots below ground. Simply put, just because a pool sits several feet away from a tree above ground does notF necessarily mean that all will be well below ground.

Although roots typically grow only 18 to 24 inches into the ground, their expansion across the ground is innately considerably larger. This may be further exaggerated by a tree of relatively large size. A good rule of thumb is to preclude placing a pool in any area that lies within 20 feet of a tree. Because the investment in your trees is as important as the investment in a pool, never hesitate to contact a professional arborist with questions concerning the estimated span of a tree’s roots and any damage that may result.

It is also important to consider any trees that may be in relative proximity to one another. This is because, depending upon the span, it is entirely possible that the roots of trees may be intertwined. If care is not taken, once excavation has begun for the pool any root damage that may be done may affect more than one tree. As you prepare to install a pool, an Austin tree trimming expert can assist not only with any above ground obstacles related to the health of your trees, such as limbs, but also any obstacles below ground, including intertwined roots, as well.

Consider also how any landscaping trees not in the vicinity of the pool may still be negatively impacted by any foot traffic or heavy equipment as the contractors do the job they are hired to do. As most homeowners consider the pros and cons of the addition of a pool, one such consideration that should also be made is how to sustain a beautiful lawn and tree health by managing foot traffic and the soil compaction that is sure to result.

Finally, once the pool is installed, it is recommendable to provide careful attention to trees in close proximity to the pool. These are the trees most likely to suffer from any inadvertent damage done during the installation process. An Austin tree care expert may recommend fertilizer, additional watering, mulch application, or other possibilities.

It is entirely possible to have both a wonderfully refreshing pool and a beautiful backyard. However, because the damage that can be done can certainly rival the reward, always proceed with caution by first seeking the expertise of an Austin arborist.

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

Effects of Leaf Damage

Oak trees are frequently the target of insect infestation. In Austin, Texas, this infestation can range from disease contracted through the bark of the oak, such as oak wilt, or from insect damage to the tree through leaf damage. This is otherwise known as defoliation. Because of the innate value of oaks, especially to a home landscape, it is important to know to which insects oak leaf defoliation is attributed, the effects of defoliation, and how it can be prevented.

Although insects, including caterpillars, are responsible for defoliation of trees, the primary culprits responsible for the defoliation of various species of oaks within various regions belong to the moth family.

Croesia semipurpurana is a member of the moth family and is thought to be perhaps one of the most serious of all defoliators. In fact, this species has contributed to the decline of scarlet and red oaks, and has been found to be a defoliator anywhere from the east coast as far west as Texas in the United States. This species is thought to be the primary link between defoliation and tree mortality.

Archips semiferana is another member of the moth family and is also known as a leaf roller. This species is responsible for the mortality of white and chestnut oaks, particularly in areas of higher elevations.

Gypsy moths, or Porthetria dispar L., are also defoliators. They are primarily responsible for the defoliation of oaks in the eastern United States. It is documented that the gypsy moths were responsible for a significant amount of damage to oaks in the northeastern United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The effects of defoliation are quite logical. The defoliators feed on the leaves of oaks. Consequently, the leaves are integral to the overall sustainability of the tree. Because the leaves are vital to the conduction of photosynthesis, the lack of them greatly reduces the tree’s ability to provide itself with the nourishment it needs to remain viable and flourish.

Affected oaks that remain untreated and undergo successive seasons of defoliation are most likely to suffer mortality. The effects of oak mortality not only include the overall decrease, or possible extinction, of oaks, but also economic impacts as well. Oaks used to supply lumber for construction projects or used to beautify home, commercial, or municipal landscapes may decrease in availability and, as an economic result, therefore increase consumer costs associated with purchases or maintenance.

If you have concerns that your landscaping oaks may be affected by defoliators, perhaps through the observation of leaf tatters, contact an Austin tree trimming professional, who can carefully examine the branches for the presence of defoliating insects and assist in treatment.

In order to preserve your oaks, it is important to address any defoliators that may be present. However, it is equally important to treat the problem with care so that the solution doesn’t become a problem. Applying pesticides must be done with caution so as not to destroy the healthy, unaffected segments of the tree. Contact an Austin tree care professional to assist you with carefully treating the tree, killing any existing defoliators while still maintaining the overall vitality of the oak.

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