Landscaping Rock Gardens

A growing trend in landscaping is the addition of alternative gardens, including rock gardens. Using a little bit of creativity, rock gardens are a beautiful addition to any landscape and can serve many purposes.

An environmentally-conscious homeowner may choose to add a rock garden to help conserve water and lower his/her average water bill. This is because rock gardens are an excellent means by which to conserve water. As with other types of landscaping mulch, rocks, too, retain moisture. Whether water is applied naturally, such as through rainfall, or manually, such as through sprinkling systems, the water retention it supplies helps to reduce the overall amount of water needed. In regions where rainfall may be naturally or circumstantially minimal, such as in a drought-stricken area, the required applications of water will decrease when rock gardens are added.

Rock gardens are a creative way to add natural elements to a landscape to improve aesthetics. If the landscape lacks color, consider adding some through the choice of rock. Red rock is a great way to add some beauty to a healthy, but perhaps slightly mundane landscape. If the landscape is sufficiently colored and you believe the addition of more color may lessen its already aesthetically pleasing qualities, then a neutral-colored rock is a great choice. Browns, tans and blacks add a natural, earthy element to a rock garden that generally complements rather than negates.

Rock gardens also make great use of a naturally organic material to improve trouble areas within a landscape. Some homeowners may choose to add rock gardens to bare areas in the landscape while others may choose to add rock gardens to areas that tend to retain too much water. Most realize that either extreme can do great harm to a landscape, and since most work hard to maintain the health of their landscape, treating trouble areas is an important step to maintaining health.

For bare areas, rock gardens may facilitate both the provision of water and the subsequent moisture retention the area needs to improve health. By contrast, strategically placed rocks of various sizes and textures may facilitate water runoff that not only prevents a single area from being water-logged, but also allows the water to perhaps disburse (runoff) to other areas that may be lacking. If attempts to correct bare or water-logged areas within your landscape have been unsuccessful and you’re considering the addition of a rock garden, you can always contact an Austin tree trimming specialist, who is also knowledgeable in the improvement or maintenance of landscape health through the uses of rock gardens and other methods.

Lastly, and again using strategically placed rocks of various sizes and textures, rock gardens may be used as a creative way to change the natural slope of a landscape. For areas beneath the grade of a landscape, perhaps such as the site of a removed tree stump, the addition of a rock garden may serve to fill in and raise the grade to ground level. By contrast, for areas of the landscape a homeowner desires to be above grade level, the addition of a rock garden may serve to present a more alpine appearance.

If you are considering the addition of a rock garden to your landscape, contact an Austin tree care professional for assistance and guidance. His or her experience likely includes many ways to use rock gardens to improve the overall health and appearance of any Austin landscape.

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

Uses of Pine Needles

Like leaves, pine needles are also shed from trees. Unlike the leaf drop we are accustomed to seeing during autumn, however, pine needles may fall at any point during the year. Typically, this is a natural way of allowing the older needles to drop and allow for the growth of newer, younger needles.

Also like leaves, there are several ways that fallen pine needles can be put to particularly good use throughout the year. Consider the following.

During summer, fallen pine needles may be placed in flower beds or may be used to encircle landscaping trees. This is both a functional and economical way to use a natural process to add aesthetic appeal to a landscape. It’s also a good way to cover unsightly areas that may require attention and maintenance. This is particularly true of bare spots or of withered summer garden plots.

And speaking of gardens, pine needles can also be collected and placed with other organic material in a compost bin. Because the breakdown of composted material takes time, starting your collection at summer’s end is an ideal time to ensure the availability of a rich compost full of nutrients for the following spring’s planting.

For young trees or plants, adding pine needles helps to shed and prevent an overabundance of rainfall while still allowing the water to penetrate the soil and provide what is necessary to sustain the tree.

During winter, an accumulation of fallen pine needles can be placed around trees for added protective measures, such as insulation. This is especially true in regions which are located at higher elevations or which consistently experience a harsh winter climate.

Fallen pine needles may also be used to bring a touch of the outdoors indoors, especially during the holiday season. Consider adding pine needles to tablescapes or holiday centerpieces, across mantelpieces or hearths, in wreaths, or creatively fashioned around holiday-scented candles.

From time to time, some of the needles that fall from pine trees could be indicative of a problem. For instance, needle drop may be a problem if the tree is under considerable stress, perhaps during a time of persistent drought. Since aridity sometimes plagues the Austin area, as well as other regions, particularly in the south, consider contacting an Austin tree trimming specialist if you suspect that a pine tree may be experiencing environmental stressors which are triggering needle drop.

Tree health and maintenance are very important to most homeowners. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the status of any of your landscaping pines, contact an Austin tree care professional for expertise and 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

Reasons for Raking Fall Leaves

Most of us lead very busy lives. In this fast-paced society, there’s a lot that consumes our time and occupies our schedules, including work, church, the care of our children, aging parents or pets, clubs, and sports, just to name a few. It’s quite easy to become so distracted by life’s demands that we let a few things slide here and there. And for all of the effort that so many homeowners put forth toward the care and maintenance of their landscapes during the spring and summer months, it is easy to forget that care and maintenance should also continue during the fall and winter months, too.

Since landscaping trees go dormant during the colder months, the fact that there are still things we can do to maintain our lawns, protect our trees, and get a head start on preparations for a great growing season when spring and summer return is sometimes overlooked.

And although it is quite often one of those things many of us neglect to do, one such thing that can be done to set things on course for a great start upon spring’s return is to rake autumn’s fallen tree leaves. There are several reasons to consider doing this.

First, fallen autumn leaves that amass may inadvertently cause damage to a landscape. The weight of fallen leaves only grows as autumn rains dampen them. Left undisturbed, rainfall may accumulate. This may cause soil compaction, lack of oxygen, or foster a ripe environment for vermin. Any one of these possible outcomes has the capacity to negatively impact the health of a landscape when growing season returns.

Second, large areas of fallen leaves may prevent the visibility of sidewalks, steps or potholes. Additionally, any rainfall that accumulates under piles of leaves and remains unattended may also freeze when winter’s cold arrives. These are circumstances which pose a threat to homeowners, visitors to the property and pets alike. Unfortunately, there also exists the possibility of legal implications for such matters.

Bear in mind, too, that any tree limbs weakened from storm, wind or termite damage that happen to hang in precarious areas, such as over a home, vehicles or power lines, also become a hazard during winter freezing events. Dangerous outcomes can be prevented before winter’s arrival by being proactive no later than fall. Contact an Austin tree trimming professional to assist with proper pruning techniques to minimize any unnecessary risks.

Finally, since fall leaves are inevitable, put them to good use. Establish a compost bin, and place raked leaves into it for an appropriate storage component during fall and winter. As natural breakdown (decomposition) occurs over these months, homeowners will find that they have a rich, environmentally-friendly and cost-effective–absolutely free!–compost for use in landscaping and gardening projects when spring returns.

For additional assistance or ideas regarding how best to deal with or make use of fall leaves, contact an Austin tree care professional.

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 to assist you with any questions or concerns about how autumnal changes affect your landscaping trees.'>

What Causes Fall Colors?

One of the most fascinating and enjoyable aspects of the fall season is the gorgeous display of colors. Every year, the American public treks miles and miles across the country to take in the fleeting, but beautiful foliage. Most of us spend the season taking in the vibrant reds, oranges, yellow, greens, purples and golds with little understanding of how those colors come to enchant us so.

A lot of what we enjoy during autumn is based on two ever-present elements of plant life.

The first is the presence of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a pigment responsible for the chemical reaction that causes photosynthesis, or the use of sunlight to create nourishment. Of course, it is this nourishment that is provides life to the plant. It is also the pigment responsible for the green coloring we are accustomed to seeing on leaves.

The second is the fact that, embedded within the leaves and well-hidden by the chlorophyll, are other existing pigments. These include carotenoids, which typically give off yellow, orange or brown hues, and anthocyanins, which typically give off red, purple or blue hues. With the onset of the season, these cleverly disguised pigments take center stage in one glorious display of autumn’s majesty.

So, exactly what causal role do these two elements play in fall’s colors? During the growing season, the presence of chlorophyll is constant, using sunlight to provide assistance in a tree’s ability to thrive. Exposure to sunlight, however, eventually breaks down chlorophyll, so it is always being replenished.

Although the onset of fall for mankind is generally marked by the brilliant colors so endeared to us, the onset of fall for plant life is marked by the shortening of the days. Shorter days mean that there is less sunlight for photosynthesis. To compensate, trees begin to gradually slow the production of chlorophyll, eventually ceasing its production altogether. Once production of chlorophyll stops, the underlying carotenoid and anthocyanin pigments become visible.

Many liken this process to a banana that is not quite yet ripe. It appears green at first. However, as the ripening process progresses, the yellow pigment we all associate with bananas becomes evident. The ripening process is very much like the cessation of the production of chlorophyll, and the eventual exposure of the yellow pigment is much like the exposure of the underlying carotenoids and anthocyanins in leaves.

Contact an Austin tree trimming specialist to assist you with properly and strategically pruning your landscaping trees to receive a most spectacular autumn display in your own backyard.

Although chlorophyll production stops during the fall and winter months, this does not mean that trees go without sustenance for these many months. Essentially, the trees will live off of reserves, an accumulation of food that was stored during the active summer months, during this period of dormancy.

For any additional questions pertaining to how autumnal changes affect your landscaping trees, contact an Austin tree care specialist to assist you.

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 trimming professional for knowledgeable assistance to make this possible on your landscape.'>

Growing Grass At the Site of a Removed Stump

Although no arborist or other healthy environment-loving individual wants to see a tree removed, in certain circumstances, it has to be done. One of the challenges a homeowner frequently faces after having a tree and its stump removed is trying to grow grass in the area immediately surrounding the site of the former tree.

Not only is this frequently a challenge for homeowners, but it’s also of the utmost importance. Because the value of a home can fluctuate due even to its landscaping, homeowners are often motivated to see that the landscape is functionally and aesthetically restored as much as possible. This motivation is perhaps amplified if the site of a tree removal is in a highly visible location, such as a front lawn or above grade location.

Before the stump removal process can begin, the tree itself must first be removed, if not already accomplished. It is imperative that a homeowner work with a licensed and insured professional. If tree limbs are proximal to homes, vehicles, power lines or a neighbor’s property, then hazards positively exist. An Austin tree trimming professional can safely assist with the removal of those limbs in order to prevent damage to surrounding property. Once potential liabilities are taken care of, the tree, and consequently the stump, may then be removed.

A professional stump removal service provider typically removes a stump up to 12 inches below the grade. This is accomplished by grinding the stump. However, as a result of grinding, quite often many wood chips are left at the site.

It is important to remove as many of these chips as possible. This is because wood, even small pieces of it, like wood chips, takes a considerable amount of time to decompose. Any wood chip fragments remaining at the site of the stump removal will compete for the nitrogen that is present in the soil. Of course, competition between the wood chips and any grass seed that is applied to the site could defeat the purpose of attempting to grow grass altogether.

For the environmentally-conscious homeowner, wood chip fragments that remain at the site of the removed tree and are collected can be placed in a compost pile. Although the breakdown of the chips may take some time, the resulting compost can be recycled, used in other outdoor landscaping projects down the road. Not only is this cost-effective for the homeowner, but it’s also a great way to take some environmentally-responsible action if a tree absolutely has to be removed.

If you are uncertain that all wood chips have been removed from the site, the eventual presence of mushrooms are reasonable indicators that all wood chips were not removed. They exist because of the decomposition process taking place below ground.

Additionally, if you are uncertain that all wood chips have been removed, applying nitrogen fertilizer not only may lessen the chances of competition between superfluous wood chips and the grass seed, but may also hasten their effective decomposition.

Backfill the site with topsoil or compost. Keep in mind that pockets of air or the eventual breakdown of wood fragments may cause some settling of the soil. Adding soil slightly above the grade is recommended to offset the potential for sinking.

Add seed to the site for the grass of your choosing and cover with straw or sand to facilitate growth. This may not be necessary if the seed you selected is already mixed with a mulch of some sort.

Consult an Austin tree care specialist for further assistance in successfully growing grass where a tree once stood.

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

Summer’s Effects on Fall Foliage

Arguably, the autumn months foster one of the most enjoyable seasons of each calendar year. The cooler, more comfortable temperatures that accompany it are often a welcome relief to the heat and humidity Austin, and many other parts of the country, experience. That relief also presents itself in the form of rainfall. Many areas within Texas, including Austin, are often subjected to intense southern heat and very little precipitation to counter the negative effects of such. As summer’s heat and, sometimes, drought conditions persist, some may be left wondering about the impending autumn.

Part of autumn’s glory is the foliage that crowns hillsides, mountaintops and valleys. Without this annual occurrence, the anticipation of the season is greatly diminished. So, is there good reason to wonder what may be in store in the fall when a harsh summer precedes it?

Indeed summer’s heat can impact the turning of a tree’s leaves. Persistently hot temperatures may cause undue stress on the leaves. If this occurs, the leaves may begin to wilt prematurely. Although some color typical of autumn may be seen during this process, it is frequently short-lived and sometimes not seen at all. Depending upon how long the excessive temperatures have lingered, leaves may be unable to withstand them after a point. Once this threshold has been reached, the results typically are wilting and die-off of the leaves, and abounding feelings of chagrin from fall enthusiasts.

Heat is not the only component of summer that has the potential to negatively affect fall, however. Another similar key component is lack of rainfall. Much like the oppressive southern heat, lack of precipitation is also believed to have the capacity to stunt a wondrous autumn display. Insufficient rainfall, and especially a resulting drought, is a stressor for a tree. When rainfall is unavailable, so is a vital part of the tree’s sustenance. The ability to self-sustain may become compromised, and the effects of this are sometimes most evident by the duration of the foliage at the onset of fall.

Additionally, sometimes trees’ extremities are quite vulnerable during a season of limited or no rain. Much like any other living creature, it is a tree’s extremities that are the last to receive nourishment and, quite logically, the first to suffer for it. Already weakened branches are more susceptible to the effects of high winds or heavy rains, should a period of drought come abruptly to an end. If any limb causes you alarm, or if you’re uncertain as to its steadfastness, contact an Austin tree trimming expert for assistance.

Perhaps the best indicators of an enjoyable autumn are a warm and wet spring, which ultimately promotes healthy leaves, and a temperate summer with adequate rainfall, which helps to maintain the health of the leaves as the seasons shift from spring to summer. Another reputable indicator of a colorful autumn spectacle is an Indian summer. This is those pleasantly cool, crisp nights followed by pleasantly warm, sunny days, quite the typical fall weather pattern.

Contact an Austin tree care professional if you have specific questions or concerns about your landscaping trees, their overall health or how their foliage will be impacted by summer weather conditions.

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 Hammocks

One of the most common reasons for maintaining a landscape is to provide a source of respite, very literally, within one’s own backyard. And one of the best things about home ownership is that the landscape can be made to reflect all those personal touches that make the homeowner unique. One of the qualities many homeowners try to impart within a landscape is tranquility, a means by which to relax and pull away from the stresses of daily life within the confines of home.

From the types of trees that are planted, to planting locations, definitively
yielding desired sun or shade, to the fragrances emanated, each decision made regarding a landscape caters to individual preferences.

One of those unique preferences sometimes added to a landscape is a tree hammock. Hammocks frequently recreate the carefree experiences we recall from swinging as a child. Think of them as an extension of childhood into adulthood!

The most common place from which to hang a hammock is traditionally between two trees. With the development of modern landscapes, however, we now know that this may not always be possible. Since the roots of trees may expand two to three times the circumference of theF canopy, roots can become intertwined or compete for necessary nutrients, sometimes destroying one or more trees in the process. In Austin, Texas, oak wilt can be transmitted from an affected tree to a healthy one through intertwined roots. It’s important to carefully consider these facts and proceed by strategically planting trees.

If you decide to hang a hammock between two trees, it will need to be placed somewhere between six to eight feet high. Based upon the weight that will be applied to it during use, this height should allow sufficient drag space. If specific limbs hinder the ability to hang the hammock at the appropriate height, contact an Austin tree trimming professional to assist with the appropriate trimming of the tree. After all, the last thing you want to do is to apply incorrect cuts and weaken the tree’s ability to support the hammock.

It is often propagated that attaching a hammock using tree hooks will not harm the overall health of a tree. However, if you ever decide at any point to move the hammock to another location or remove it altogether, the hooks will most assuredly leave holes in the trunk of the tree. Consider purchasing a hammock that utilizes straps instead. Straps do not require any invasive cuts or holes in the tree and allow for easier removal of the hammock for relocation or storage.

If you find that you still have concerns over the effects of the straps on the trees’ bark, consult an Austin tree care specialist, who can advise with which stressors trees can best cope and with which they cannot.

And for the especially eco-conscious, there are alternatives to hanging a hammock from your landscaping trees. Consider adding sturdy, concrete-anchored posts or using existing structures, such as a deck or the corners of a home and another adjoining building on the property.

There are several ways to enjoy the relaxation a hammock provides while still maintaining the integrity of your landscaping trees. If you have additional questions or concerns, however, contact an Austin arborist 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

Leaf Scorch and the Winter Connection

Although the effects of leaf scorch are most apparent during the arid summer months, it may be quite surprising for some to learn that there is a leaf scorch connection to winter. Though its effects most often manifest themselves during summer, leaf scorch sometimes originates during the winter.

One winter trigger that later leads to leaf scorch effects during the warmer months is frozen ground. When temperatures cause the ground to freeze, a tree is unable to absorb water for distribution throughout its vascular system, essentially leading to dehydration. When the warmer spring and summer months arrive, the browning, and sometimes brittle, feature that is indicative of leaf scorch becomes apparent.

Similar to the above, yet another winter connection to the eventual effects of leaf scorch is related to watering during freezing temperatures. Although watering during the winter months is just as critical to the vitality of a tree as watering during the warmer months, incorrectly watering a tree during winter can be quite detrimental. Those who are conscientious of this fact should take great care to correctly water trees during the winter months. Timing is imperative!

For instance, it is critical to winter water on days when the air temperature surpasses freezing, as well as to choose a time early enough in the day so that the tree will have sufficient opportunity to absorb the water before freezing
temperatures set back in, typically at nightfall. Water that is not absorbed will freeze with the onset of sub-freezing temperatures, causing ice to form over the roots, thereby suffocating the tree. Unfortunately, any damage done as a result of insufficiently distributed oxygen may not be discovered until the warmer months arrive and the effects of leaf scorch become apparent.

Salts used to de-ice roadways and other thoroughfares may also lead to leaf scorch. Much like the salts used in fertilizer, the salts used in de-icing concoctions may contain a salt content higher than that of the soil of a surrounding tree. If this is the case, the roots of the tree may become scorched by the higher-concentrated salts. Paired with desiccation by the tree’s vascular system, so common during winter months, a tree may easily succumb to leaf scorch caused by attempts to de-ice, the effects of which, however, may not be visible until many months later.

Offering considerably less control toward maintaining a tree’s vitality is the onset of spring blooms followed by a subsequent cold snap. Such a situation not only typically kills these ill-timed blooms, but sometimes ruins any ensuing chances of additional blooms from the affected branches. If they remain bare with no further blooms as the warmer seasons progress, then an Austin tree trimming specialist should be contacted to prune (remove) the branches.

Adequate watering to prevent dehydration is also important. During the winter months, this should include a significant, monthly watering of the entire area containing the feeder roots. This area may extend outwardly from the base of the tree for a considerable distance.

The fact that the onset of leaf scorch could begin so far in advance of the visible effects is quite perplexing. Perhaps it helps to think of the effects of leaf scorch as a type of delayed reaction. If you have questions regarding how best to care for your landscaping trees during the winter months so as to avoid leaf scorch during the summer, an Austin tree care professional is an excellent source for both information 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

Leaf Scorch

If you’ve ever noticed a prominent section of tree that appears brown or wilted among a backdrop of remaining tree that appears relatively healthy, then you have likely witnessed the presence of leaf scorch.

Leaf scorch occurs when a tree’s root system is unable to absorb enough water to sustain it. Typical signs indicative of leaf scorch include browning and brittleness in the outer margins of affected leaves. The outer margins are the first areas to become water-deprived. Eventually even the tissue most near the veins of affected leaves may appear yellowed or discolored. Over time, the leaves eventually wilt completely and drop. If you’ve ever stepped on leaves that have fallen, specifically during any season other than autumn, chances are those leaves may have suffered from leaf scorch.

When water absorption is inadequate, a tree’s nourishment is inadequate as well. Leaf scorch is a direct result of just such a scenario.

Of all the seasons, there are several reasons why leaf scorch is particularly prevalent during the summer months.

Drought, most common during the summer months, is one reason leaf scorch may occur. A tree whose root system is already at a disadvantage when it comes to water absorption is affected more so when coupled with insufficient amounts of available water for absorption through natural means, such a rainfall.

Often seen hand-in-hand with drought conditions is heat stress. As living things, trees, like humans, are susceptible to damage done by excessive heat and humidity. If transpiration outweighs absorption, the tree will surely suffer imbalance due to heat stress.

Ironically enough, an opposing reason leaf scorch may occur during summer months is excessive amounts of water. If natural sources of water, such as rainfall, or artificial sources, such as sprinkler systems, over-water an area, feeder root expansion may become stunted. This decreases the amount of water, and oxygen, that a tree can effectively absorb and distribute, essentially suffocating the tree.

Poor root expansion may also lead to leaf scorch. Since a tree’s feeder roots tend to expand, or grow outward rather than downward, the inability to do so greatly impedes the tree’s ability to absorb water. Poor root expansion may occur as a result of heavy rocks, such as boulders, the presence of a structure, such as a home or other building, or pavement, such as a sidewalk or a structural foundation.

Yet another reason leaf scorch is typically seen more during the summer months is due to people’s home improvement habits. Outdoor and landscaping work generally increase during the summer.

Because of this, the opportunity for inadvertent damages increases, too. Tree and lawn care tools and equipment can cause injury to a tree, including its roots. If the roots suffer damage, the absorption, and subsequent distribution, of water may be impacted and could lead to leaf scorch.

In many instances, an affected tree initiates a shedding process, of sorts, in an effort to sustain itself. If you notice that signs of leaf scorch are apparent, occurring simultaneously with a tree’s dropping of twigs or branches, contact an Austin tree trimming specialist to assist you. He/she will likely be able to help restore the tree to good health and prevent the onset of other diseases, such as Austin oak wilt.

Although applying fertilizer is quite common, over-application may cause leaf scorch by burning tree roots. Consult an Austin arborist for assistance in the proper application of fertilizer, including an effective, but not excessive amount.

An Austin tree care professional can advise in the prevention or correction of the effects of leaf scorch.

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

The Effects of Grading

Sometimes achieving the idyllic landscape requires changes. Grading is sometimes one of those changes. Simply put, grading is the process whereby slopes are created for strategic purposes. Changes in grade may be applied for aesthetics or for function, such as an outdoor grilling area or gazebo. Primarily, grading is often used in situations where drainage is a problem. Changing the slope, or grade, of an area that receives too much or too little water can correct the situation and allow continued vitality of the trees or other plant life within the affected area.

However, without consulting the expertise of a professional Austin arborist, changing the grade of a landscape can have detrimental effects, too. Whether increasing or decreasing the grade, unfortunately, damage can be done in either regard.

When increasing, or raising, the grade, additional soil is added to the landscape. The addition of even a nominal amount of soil can greatly impact a tree’s ability to sustain itself. Two damaging results may occur.

First, the addition of the soil adds to compaction. Generally, a tree is able to sustain itself through respiration because of permeability within the soil. Permeability is necessary for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. When soil is added to increase grade, compaction may occur, resulting in a tree’s diminished or total inability to take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, essentially suffocating the tree.

Second, the addition of soil to raise the grade may alter the water a tree receives. Because the addition of soil increases the overall mass of the grade as well, water may not drain properly as a result of compaction. And if the water is unable to drain, it remains stagnant within the grade, also disrupting the tree’s ability to respire, eventually leading to its demise.

Conversely, decreasing, or lowering, the grade requires the removal of soil from the landscape. Removing even a minimal amount of soil can also greatly impact a tree’s ability to sustain itself. Removing soil can lead to opposing, but equally as damaging results as those incurred when raising the grade.

The removal of soil can greatly impact a tree by causing imbalance. When soil is removed, many of the roots responsible for providing sustenance to the tree, known as feeder roots, become damaged. When the feeder roots are damaged, there is a decrease in the nutrients a tree receives. It goes without saying that without sufficient amounts of nutrients, a tree will succumb to weakness or even eventual death.

It is strongly recommended to seek the guidance of an Austin tree trimming specialist regarding lowering the grade. If excessive amounts of soil are removed, not only are the feeder roots impacted, but sometimes the roots that anchor the tree. High winds or a storm can easily cause an unanchored tree to become windblown. Depending upon the tree’s location, this may cause more than just a toppled, unsightly tree. Damage may be done to property or, worse yet, to life.

Lowering the grade may also result in insufficient amounts of water. Consequently, what little water a tree may receive once the grade is decreased may not be properly distributed as a result of any damage done to the feeder roots. It’s an unfortunate cycle that may ultimately lead to the death of the tree.

If at all possible, it’s best to change a landscaping grade during periods of construction. If this isn’t possible, however, the effects of changing a grade don’t have to be detrimental. An Austin tree care service can assist in making the necessary changes while still preserving and maintaining your trees.

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