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

Tree Planting and Care During the Fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Properly Fertilizing Your Trees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Desert Trees

There are several considerations when caring for, and choosing a tree for a desert landscape.  The weather alone will not only play a role in this decision process.  Factors such as water, soil and wildlife will also become variables when deciding which desert tree is the right fit for your property.

Wildlife – If you are attempting to attract wildlife, such as lizards, rabbits, and/or other small creatures, it is pertinent to choose a variety of shade trees for your desert property.  Any creature will be attracted to the shade, especially when the sun is at its hottest temperatures of the day.  Birds such as:  pigeons, hawks and crows will prefer palms or willows, with larger leaf capacity.  While grounded animals will prefer trees such as pines, which will provide numerous branches with small hiding places.

Shade – It is not only the desert animals that will benefit from tree shade.  When choosing a desert tree for your property, shade value, and correct placement of that shade value, will be important.  If a large shade tree is hundreds of feet from your home, it may not be as beneficial with respects to the sun.  Although, if you are looking to shade a picnic area or workshop on your land, placement of the tree should respectively be considered.  When purchasing a tree, be sure to ask how much potential shade the tree will project at full maturity.  This shade can greatly cut down on your electrical costs, as well as the sun-wear on your home.

Water – Water is often scarcely available or of higher cost in open desert areas.  If you are trying to conserve water, it is best to check the prepared water schedule of your new desert tree choice.  Some trees require a more tedious watering schedule then as compared to others.  Before choosing a tree, ask which trees will require more or less water maintenance.  From here, you can then estimate the time and cost to water, within your means.

Planting – It is often best to plant desert trees in the fall season.  This will give your new desert tree time to acclimate to the hot weather, before the heat of summer reappears.  In winter, the roots will also have time to develop during a cooler temperature, with moist, vitamin-condensed soils.

When digging the hole for your new tree, you will hit a hard substance, just a few inches below the earth’s surface.  This substance is referred to as desert caliche.  Caliche is the Spanish term for calcium carbonate.  Be sure to break this substance up and/or remove it completely from your hole.  In doing so, water will be able to drain properly through the dirt and subsoils.  The roots of your tree will also have the ability to develop properly.

Desert trees carry very different needs and requirements as far as their overall care.  Although, the beauty and growing capacity of your tree will remain, regardless of the terrain.  When purchasing a desert tree, it is always beneficial to ask questions of your tree salesperson or care specialist.

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