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

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

How Soil Compaction Affects Trees

Trees are negatively impacted by soil compaction, and it is not just detrimental to young trees. Older, more established trees are just as susceptible to its effects. To protect your landscape trees, it’s important to understand soil compaction and how it can be corrected for continued sustainability of your trees.

Compaction of soil creates density. Within this density, there is a containment of carbon dioxide. Since it is oxygen that is necessary for the overall health and sustainability of the tree, the carbon monoxide is in direct contrast to what is required for vitality.

Compacted soil also causes runoff. When water runs off the soil rather than soaking into it, sustainability may be compromised. Certainly, lack of water is a stressor for a tree.

Another complication a tree faces when the surrounding soil is compacted is the ability to grow its roots. Soil compaction generally affects the first several inches of soil. Consequently, this is the area where trees typically root. Soil that is compacted, however, prevents the tree’s roots from expanding. Tree roots not steadfastly put into the ground are at greater risk of damage from lack of nutrition or becoming uprooted as a result of high winds.

Whereas non-compacted soil is porous and allows for the cooling flow of oxygen within it, compacted soil causes pockets of heat. Excessive heat can cause damage to the tree’s base, including its roots. As roots are essentially the lifeline of the tree, any damage done to them, including heat damage, can have significant effects on the rest of the tree.

Additionally, although runoff is frequently a problem of compacted soil, it is not uncommon for pockets of existing pores, minimal as they may be, to fill with water instead of oxygen. The combination of these pockets of water and the heat that becomes trapped within are a breeding ground for fungi. In Austin, Texas, oak wilt is a source of destruction to many oaks. Since oak wilt can spread from tree to tree through intertwined roots, taking steps to correct compacted soil not only deals with the problem of the soil itself, but also with any secondary effects, such as oak wilt. If compacted soil affects your oaks, contact an Austin tree trimming specialist, who can assist you with safely securing the roots of a healthy tree from those of an oak tree affected by oak wilt.

There are steps that can be taken to correct the problem of compacted soil. For instance, foot traffic in and around trees, especially their roots, should be lessened. Remember that roots may expand up to several times that of the dripline. Therefore, just because one may not be near the visible roots at the base of a tree doesn’t mean that there aren’t roots beneath the ground which still may be affected by foot traffic. Foot traffic may be caused by the landowners or their children or pets. It may be caused by contractors completing home projects or their machinery. It may even be caused by wild animals, such as deer, feeding from the tree or just below it. Foot traffic in high risk zones can be minimized by boundaries, such as stakes and mesh.

Aeration is helpful to compacted soil, as it allows for better flow of oxygen, better absorption and less runoff of water, and better penetration of life-sustaining nutrients, such as oxygen, and sunlight. Up to five aerations annually is recommended for landscapes affected by soil compaction.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding soil compaction and how to correct it, seek the assistance of 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

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Tree Susceptibility to Wind Damage

Spring and summer months bring challenges to sustaining landscaping trees. There are thunderstorms, heavy rains that may be a precursor to flooding, and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, periods of prolonged drought. There are also incidents of extremely high winds to consider. In addition to regular seasonal storms, these may result from tornadoes or hurricanes. So, what are some of the signs that a landscaping tree may be more vulnerable to high wind damage than another?

One sign of a tree’s vulnerability to wind damage is its shape. The more limbs of a tree has which form V-shaped extensions, the more susceptibility to wind damage. This is because, much like the sails of a ship, the V-shapes serve as a catch for winds. Whereas a simple elongated branch would allow the wind to flow over and escape any resistance of the tree, V-shaped branches catch the wind, also known as wind loading. The loading of the wind in V-shaped branches does not allow for an even distribution of the winds’ force over all areas of the tree. When one area of a tree is exposed more to the winds’ force, it is more likely to suffer the consequences of wind damage, which may include fallen or snapped branches, loss of leaf coverage, or, in an especially weak tree, blow-over.

Another sign of a tree’s vulnerability to wind damage is structural instability, for which several factors may be responsible. Decay is one. If a tree exhibits conks, a wood-rotting fungus, then decay is present, and if decay is present, then a tree’s structural integrity is certainly compromised. When structural integrity is no longer fully intact, then a tree’s susceptibility to wind damage is greatly increased. Another factor is insect damage, of which there is a variety. Insect damage may include that caused directly by infestation of insects to a tree or indirectly by insects’ involvement in a deteriorating process. One such example of the latter in Texas is Austin oak wilt. Though insects don’t directly infest an oak tree, they are responsible for the spread of the disease by transporting spores from diseased trees to healthy ones. By whatever method of insects’ involvement in the deterioration of landscaping trees, structural integrity is most always compromised.

Perhaps a less obvious sign of a tree’s vulnerability to wind damage is the extent of its root growth below ground. Obviously, the deeper roots grow, the more solidly anchored they are. Unfortunately, however, many trees’ roots don’t extend as deeply as some would assume. For this reason, even the largest of trees may easily succumb to wind damage, including being windthrown, or completely uprooted from the ground.

Although nothing can be done to control or prevent naturally occurring events, such as tornadoes or hurricanes, it has been recommended that it is possible to control their wind-damaging effects. Some recommend thinning a tree. The premise for doing so suggests that allowing strategic branches to catch wind while the majority of the branches allow the wind to pass through will lessen the chances that a tree will be destroyed by wind damage. In other words, allowing a few branches to bear the brunt of heavy winds is a better sacrifice than allowing the entire tree to be destroyed because of them. Seek the expertise of an Austin tree trimming professional on this matter before attempting to thin a landscaping tree independently.

Wind damage may not be preventable, but there is valuable information available to determine which trees are most vulnerable to it and why. Contact an Austin tree care specialist for additional questions or 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

Considerations When Planting Oaks

Oak trees are a valuable commodity not only in Austin, Texas, but in all of the United States. Because they can live for such a long time, many oaks are a deeply rooted part of the American landscape and have been for many years. Oaks happen to be a treasured species, whether in a natural backdrop or in a private landscape. If planting oaks on your personal property is a possibility, then there are several considerations to be made before doing so.

One consideration to be made when planting oaks is how local climate conditions may affect vitality. Fortunately, and perhaps further adding to their appeal, oak happens to be a species of tree that thrives in the contiguous states. Therefore, Austin’s typical climate is generally conducive to the vitality of any oak that is planted. Although extra watering and care may be necessary for approximately the first year following planting, once established, oaks tend to thrive in natural sunlight and rainfall conditions. As an added benefit, as the tree matures and its canopy size expands, oaks provide a wonderful source of shade.

When planting oaks on personal property, it’s also important to consider any structures on the property. This is especially true if homes exist on the property or eventually will. Because species of oaks tend to grow quite large, consideration should be made for the size of the tree at maturity. You don’t want either the investment in your home (or other outbuildings) or in your tree to be damaged because appropriate consideration was not given to how large the tree would grow to be. Possible problems include roof damage from low or fallen limbs, roots growing underneath the foundation of the home or sidewalks, or even insect or other pest problems within or near the home because of the tree’s proximity. Should low-hanging or broken limbs interfere with your home or other property structures, contact an Austin tree trimming specialist for professional trimming services and assistance.

It’s also important to consider any diseases to which oaks are naturally susceptible, as well as the impact of the effects. For instance, although there are others, in recent years Austin oak wilt has become a widely-recognized disease which affects oaks. The destruction it causes is quite widespread throughout Austin and other parts of Texas. Unfortunately, once an oak has been affected by the disease, there is very little chance for the tree’s survival. However, there are steps that can be taken to prevent the disease’s impact on landscape oaks. For invaluable guidance regarding protecting and preserving your investment in oaks planted on personal property, seek the assistance of an Austin tree care professional.

Oaks are an abounding, well-loved species of tree. So much so, they are now known as the national tree. They are a timeless asset to America’s natural landscape and are growing as such in our personal landscapes, too. Consider any limitations of planting an oak tree, adapt a plan that accommodates those limitations, and bring our nation’s beloved tree to your own backyard.

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

Cleaning Pruning Tools to Prevent Oak Wilt

Because Austin oak wilt is such a devastating disease, prevention is the key. This is especially true since once a tree is exposed to the disease, there is very little that can be done to prevent its demise. Perhaps one of the easiest means of the prevention of oak wilt transmission is through the proper cleaning of pruning tools.

There are differing opinions on how best to clean pruning tools. However, some of the most common, if not controversial, disinfectants include:

Using a bleach solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. (Submerge blades or shears for at least 20 seconds.)
Diluted Lysol to 20%
Undiluted (full-strength) Listerine
Rubbing alcohol of at least 70%
Pine Sol

For more effective cleaning, consider using a scrub brush, in addition to the disinfectant, to clean the tools’ blades.

Because of the chemical potency of these cleaners, it is especially important to protect oneself when cleaning pruning tools. Approach cleaning even the smallest of tools with care. At a minimum, the use of plastic hand gloves and safety glasses should be used. Hand gloves protect one’s hands from chemical burn or excessive drying. Safety glasses protect one’s eyes from sloshing or splashing disinfectants or their fumes. Always be mindful that even disinfectants that have been diluted may still cause damage to the unprotected human body.

Of course, the chemicals used to clean one’s pruning tools may cause blades to become corroded. Be certain to use water to wash away the disinfectant after submerging and/or scrubbing. Once thorough cleaning is accomplished, some guidance advises allowing the tools to completely air dry, then oiling them. By doing so, some believe the overall quality of the tools remains intact in spite of the chemical exposure from cleaning.

An Austin tree trimming professional can provide invaluable insight into the appropriate care of tools so that chances for the spread of oak wilt are minimized or even eliminated.

Another simple preventative action that can be taken when cleaning pruning tools to prevent the spread of oak wilt is to wear protective foot covering. In this particular case, the implied protection is not for the individual, but for trees. If the possibility exists that healthy oaks may be affected by a proximal diseased tree, then the transmission of spores to unaffected areas may be decreased if work boots are covered either before being exposed to the oak wilt center or removed before leaving it.

As always, seeking the advice and assistance of an Austin tree care service is recommended for any questions or concerns one may have regarding the appropriate pruning techniques or methods of tool cleaning. Since prevention is the only surefire “treatment” for oak wilt, never hesitate to contact a professional arborist if uncertainties exist.

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

Differentiating Oak Wilt from Oak Decline

Oak wilt within Austin, Texas has become quite prevalent over recent years. With this prevalence, unfortunately, comes the loss of many oak trees. However, there are several diseases which can affect oaks, the effects of which can be similar to that of oak wilt and perhaps even a bit confusing. Oak decline is one such disease. Let’s examine ways in which to differentiate oak wilt and oak decline.

Oak wilt is a disease which produces a fungus that essentially clogs the water-conducting vessels of an oak. Without the fluidity of this vital element necessary for its survival, an oak will succumb to wilting–hence, the disease’s namesake–and eventually death. Generally, the disease is spread in one of two manners. First, interconnected root systems are frequently responsible for spreading the disease to healthy, previously unaffected oaks proximal to the diseased tree. Second, sap-feeding beetles are responsible for picking up the spores that produce the disease while feeding on an infected tree and transporting them to previously unaffected, but wounded trees when their feeding site changes. The spores are introduced to the wounded tree, thereby exposing it to the devastating effects of oak wilt. Spore mats, found under areas of cracked bark, are generally evidence of the exposure of a tree to oak wilt through the presence of sap-feeding beetles Although the timeline for the demise of a tree affected by oak wilt can vary based on the species, it typically succumbs quickly.

Oak decline is a disease in which several injurious stressors simultaneously affect and lead to the decline of a tree. These stressors may include prolonged drought, late spring defoliation, root fungi, and wood-boring insects. The most notable indicator of the presence of oak decline is deterioration of the canopy. Additionally, unlike oak wilt, trees affected by oak decline tend to retain their leaves, even after their death, and the leaves do not reflect the same patterns of necrosis that leaves of trees affected by oak wilt display. If removed, a dark stain on the outer bark of an affected tree gives visual to the site affected by the wood-boring insects. Another noteworthy and defining difference is that trees affected by oak decline may show evidence of the decline over an extended period of time, often years. If questions remain, an Austin tree trimming professional can assist with the examination of a tree’s branches and leaves to help determine the correct diagnosis.

Although there are notable differences between oak wilt and oak decline, there are also similarities that may cause some confusion. Consult an Austin tree care service for professional assistance in diagnosing your landscaping oaks.

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

Professional Testing for Oak Wilt

Over recent years, oak wilt has devastated a significant number of oak trees in Austin, Texas. This disease essentially clogs the water-conducting system of an oak tree, thereby depriving the tree of water. Without this key component of nourishment, the tree succumbs to death. Since there are several tree diseases that are similar to oak wilt, it is important to verify that the disease of an affected tree is in fact oak wilt. An arborist can likely validate the diagnosis of oak wilt simply based on the symptoms noted while in the field. However, if certainty remains questionable, the most indisputable method for confirming the disease is through professional laboratory testing.

Samples of oak must first be collected from a suspected diseased tree. To do this, first identify branches that are partially wilted. It is important that the selected branches not be completely wilted, dry, or dead or the laboratory testing may be ineffective. The leaves on the branch must be identified as symptomatic. For red and white oaks, this includes leaves that display a pattern of wilt from the margins inward toward the trunk of the oak. For live oaks, this includes leaves that display veinal necrosis, yellowed veins that eventually turn brown due to wilt and subsequent death. Once identified, collect a sample of the affected leaves, and place each in a resealable plastic bag.

The wilted tree branches themselves may also offer valuable diagnostic information. By examining a cross-sectional view of a branch, the presentation of sapwood discoloration is an excellent indicator of the presence of oak wilt. A longitudinal section may be necessary for the examination of red oaks. To examine a cross-sectional or a longitudinal section view, the bark must carefully be removed from the wilted branch. If discoloration is not noted in a particular area of the branch, it may be necessary to examine yet another section. It is important, however, not to remove all of the bark, as sections of the branch which include the bark may also be sent in for laboratory testing.

To submit branch samples for testing, select samples from as many as three symptomatic branches per tree. It is essential that the sapwood must be palpably moist and the inner bark alive and green. This may be checked by removing a small section of the outer bark. It is also essential that each sample be at least one inch in diameter and cut in a length of six to eight inches. Store the samples in a resealable plastic bag, and be certain that samples from each symptomatic tree are stored separately of one another. Consult an Austin tree trimming specialist for assistance if you have any questions or concerns regarding the appropriate collection and storage of samples.

Samples collected in the field should be stored in a cool place, should never be exposed to direct sunlight, and should never be exposed to temperatures exceeding 90 degrees. Samples should also be mailed overnight delivery or delivered in person to the laboratory if possible. It is also advisable to send the samples early in the week in order to avoid delivery on the weekend and so that the testing can occur before the end of the work week. Samples should remain in the resealable plastic bags in which they were placed when collected in the field. Then, they should be mailed or delivered in a disposable ice chest with sufficient ice packs to keep the samples cool, moist, and viable.

If you suspect an oak is affected by oak wilt, consult an Austin tree care professional for further 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

Identifying Oak Wilt

Oak species are frequently affected by oak wilt in various geographical locations in the United States, including as far south as Texas. In particular, the city of Austin has seen its fair share of the devastating effects of oak wilt over recent years. The most important way to avoid the effects of oak wilt is to prevent it altogether. However, because it can be spread quite easily, learning to identify the disease is essential. Early identification of an affected tree may result in the preservation of other proximal trees.

One common way to identify oak wilt is by careful examination of patterns on the tree’s leaves. This is also known as foliar symptoms. There are particular differences between the foliar symptoms of live and red oaks. Diseased live oaks typically suffer from veinal necrosis. Essentially, the veins of a diseased live oak initially turn yellow, then turn brown. This is indicative of the diseased state of the oak. Defoliation occurs swiftly. Diseased red oaks typically display attributes of oak wilt based on maturity. Young leaves generally succumb to the disease easily and wilt quickly. Mature green leaves generally pale to a lighter shade of green and then bronze. The change in color, and overall tree health, is noted as it starts on the extremities of the leaves and works its way inward toward the center. Defoliation occurs slightly more slowly than with live oaks, taking anywhere from four to six weeks.

The presence of fungal mats is an indicator of oak wilt. Fungal mats are the powerhouse for the production of the spores responsible for oak wilt. Fungal mats are generally located underneath the tree bark. A distinctive crack in the tree’s bark typically denotes the presence of a fungal mat beneath it. It is not uncommon to also note a scent around the area of the fungal mat. It is frequently described as a fruity, fermented smell. This is the same scent that attracts the carriers of the disease-causing spores, the nitdulid.

If similar symptoms as described above are noted, it is quite possible that the culprit of such symptoms is indeed oak wilt. However, if uncertain, consult an Austin tree trimming specialist for more information and assistance. He or she can help you to determine the cause of a tree’s symptoms, including if the cause is oak wilt. Consider having an Austin tree care professional to assist you in appropriately collecting samples from any fungal mats that may be found on the tree and sending the samples in to a laboratory for confirmation of the disease. This information can be a valuable tool in helping to determine the best and necessary course of action to protect other surviving, healthy oaks proximal to any diseased one.

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

Causes of Oak Wilt

A variety of oak trees can be found in the landscape of Austin, Texas. However, oak trees are quite susceptible to a deadly tree disease known as oak wilt. This is a disease which clogs the water-conducting vessels of the tree, thereby depriving it of the essential element of water and essentially causing the oak to wilt unto its death. Unfortunately, many of the oaks in Austin have succumbed to this disease. Since oaks generally meet their demise once exposed to the disease, prevention is critical. Knowing the causes of the disease, whether primary or secondary, may assist in prevention of the disease altogether.

There are two primary, widely-recognized causes of oak wilt. The first is through spore-producing fungal mats, which attract vectors, namely nitdulid, a type of beetle. The fungal mats produce a fruity odor that attracts the beetles. The beetles feed on the fungal mats until there is nothing left to consume. Upon their physical transport to another feeding area, they carry with them spores from the fungal mats. The spores infiltrate the new feeding area. This exposes a once-healthy oak to oak wilt disease and, ultimately, its ruin. The second primary cause occurs underground through interconnected root systems. If a diseased tree’s roots are intertwined with a healthy tree’s roots, this usually spells disaster for the healthy tree. Unless appropriate action is taken to separate the roots, the chances of exposure to the disease are substantial.

There are also secondary causes of oak wilt. These causes comparably consist of underlying ways in which damage is done to the tree. If damage occurs in such a way that a wound is created, then it facilitates the fungal mats responsible for attracting vectors and the subsequent transmission of the disease by the vectors to healthy trees.

One secondary cause of oak wilt is damaged limbs. These may be from breakage from high winds during a storm or from inappropriate trimming or pruning techniques. Appropriate trimming and pruning are essential to the vitality of a tree, but perhaps more so when it comes to oak trees. Because oak wilt in Austin is quite menacing, so, too, is potential exposure of a healthy tree to the disease. If your oak tree has damaged limbs, secure an Austin tree trimming specialist immediately for professional trimming or pruning and appropriate wound dressing in order to prevent the spread of oak wilt.

Another secondary cause of oak wilt is through damage to the ground roots or the trunk. This may inadvertently occur through routine lawn maintenance. Nicks or abrasions may create a wound that eventually leads to oak wilt exposure. The same possibility exists for trees on property, whether public or private, where construction occurs. Heavy construction equipment carries the risk of damaging a tree and exposing it to the disease. If construction is planned or is ongoing on your property, consult a reputable Austin tree care service in order to preserve the health of your oaks.

Additional secondary causes of oak wilt include limbs near power lines or that are low-hanging over roadways and require trimming. Again, appropriate trimming or pruning techniques are necessary to ensure the sustainability of the oak. Another sometimes unnoticed secondary cause may include animal or termite damage. Because most animals or termites are relatively small and frequently only appear seasonally, the damage they sometimes cause may be gradual and easily overlooked.

Contact an Austin oak wilt professional with your questions or concerns about the disease, as well as the management of its primary and secondary causes, to preserve your oaks for years to come.

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