When Do I Trim My Trees?

Trimming your trees has many advantages and it should be considered for all of the trees that you own. Tree trimming is an important, yet often overlooked, step in the tree growing process. By trimming your trees early on, you can control the shape of the crown. When you trim your trees properly, you avoid many common problems that many people experience with their trees. Disease, damage to the tree, damage to your property, and broken branches can all be avoided by trimming at the right time.

Tree trimming can make your trees aesthetically pleasing to look at, but it can also keep your trees healthy. Trimming promotes the growth of foliage, fruit and flowers. Plus, trimming keeps the branches from getting too long and fragile, so they can actually support the weight of the new growth. This helps you to avoid limb breakage, which opens up your tree to diseases.

You should trim your trees at specific times of the year. The timing is dependent on the type of tree that you own. You may want to contact a local professional tree trimmer or arborist to assess the best times to trim your trees. Some trees do best if they are trimmed in the spring or summer. Doing this can promote rapid growth and help your young trees develop to their full potential. Other trees do best if they are trimmed in the winter while they are in dormancy. However, trimming certain trees in cold weather could actually kill them.

A certified arborist will know exactly which limbs to trim and how to promote a balanced density throughout your tree. Starting early and working with a professional from the time that your trees are young can give you control over whether the trees end up narrow and tall or wide and short. How the limbs are cut influences the direction that they will grow. This can be very useful, especially if your trees could grow too close to your home, power lines, the street, or off of your property. Controlling the shape and the growth rate can also help you to create shade where you need it and balance with your other landscaping.

If you have broken, damaged, diseased or “out of control” trees on your property that you would like removed, please call an Austin tree removal service that is run by certified arborist. A professional will try everything to save a tree before removing it. Austin tree care professionals are not just workers that went out and purchased some equipment. They are highly trained in pest management, disease control, tree trimming, and much more. You can also call a professional for Austin stump removal or Austin tree trunk removal to prevent pests, like termites and roaches, from infesting your property. Be sure that you get real, honest advice when looking for Austin tree trimming services by calling a professional arborist for all of your Austin tree trimming or Austin tree removal needs.

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

Planting Trees for Shade

Summer is always a reminder of how sweet shade can be. If you are looking to do a little landscaping around your home or business, you may be considering natural forms of shade, such as that provided by trees. So what type of trees should you plant for shade?

There are many types of trees to choose from as almost all trees provide some type of shade. The type of tree you choose could depend largely on where you live, what your climate is like and what temperature zone you are in.

For the very low desert, there are a handful of trees that provide great shade without requiring too much water. These trees include the Chinese Elm, Desert Willow, Mesquite, Texas Mountain-Laurel, Texas Redbud, or Coral Gum. These trees are natural desert growing trees, which make them less susceptible to drought conditions and the heat.

If you live in a higher desert climate there is the blooming silk tree or Mimosa Pudica. One can also choose any trees from the Ash or Fraxinus family. Both of these trees are known for their color with the Ash being even more brilliant during the fall. The Ash also requires little water and has few bug and disease problems.

Living in a climate with plenty of rain, you may want a fast growing shade tree. Such trees include:

1. Sawtooth Oak – The Sawtooth Oak (Quercus acutissima) is an oak originally native to eastern Asia, in China, Korea and Japan. It is closely related to the Turkey Oak. It is characterized by shoot buds surrounded by soft bristles, bristle-tipped leaf lobes, and acorns that mature in about 18 months

The Sawtooth Oak has a beautiful spreading canopy and wonderful late fall foliage that begins as a yellow and then graduates into a golden brown. This tree at maturity can grow as tall as 40 to 50 feet. The Sawtooth likes full sun and is typically grown in zones 5-9.

2. Autumn Blaze Maples – This tree is a combination of the silver maple (Acer saccharinum) and the red maple (Acer rubrum). Its scientific name is Acer freemanii. The tree‘s patented name is Autumn Blaze due to its bright red-orange fall canopy. This tree has become the most sought after tree in the U.S. due to its color and vigor. The growth rate on this tree is 2-4 times faster than rubrum maples. Like many trees, it really comes into its own in the fall.

3. River Birches -Betula nigra (River Birch; also occasionally called Water Birch) is a species of birch native to the eastern United States from New Hampshire west to southern Minnesota, and south to northern Florida and east Texas. It is commonly found in flood plains and/or swamps. This tree grows up to 80 feet in height and on occasion up to 100 feet. These trees are fast growing and have a wonderful yellow foliage in autumn and a year-round beautiful bark. These trees love full-sun and will tolerate partial shade. While its native habitat is wet ground, it will grow on higher land, and its bark is quite distinctive, making it a favored ornamental tree for landscape use.

4. Leyland Cypress Trees – Cupressocyparis leylandii (syn. Callitropsis × leylandii), often referred to as just Leylandii, is a fast-growing evergreen tree much used in horticulture, primarily for hedges and screens. These trees have are known for their rapid and thick growth which means they are sometimes used to enforce privacy, but such use can result in disputes with neighbors whose own property becomes overshadowed.

With these trees, each individual tree is slender, so they are typically planted in a row. Leyland cypress trees are best grown in zones 6-10.

As one can imagine, this short list only represents a small handful of shade trees available for one’s use. The number is limitless, depending on where you live, how fast you want your tree to grow as well as other benefits.

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

The Deadly Mistletoe

There are many reasons that trees decline in health. One of those reasons is due to organisms that live within trees as either pests or parasites.

Pests and parasites are from two different kingdoms, one the animal and the other the vegetable. The animal kingdom contains insects – insects from all types and sizes, ranging from king-size larvae to microscopic mites. In the vegetable kingdom lives fungi, bacteria and viruses that harm trees. These are all primitive plant forms, with the exception of that lovely parasite, the mistletoe. As lovely as society has made the mistletoe around Christmas, it is one of the deadliest invaders of all.

The mistletoe establishes itself on a trees living tissue through tiny rootlets that have the power to dig in to the skin of the tree like fangs. It finds itself in the tree due to the fact it creates these beautiful waxy berries that birds love, which in turn are carried by them and dropped into bark crevices of other trees. Here these berries germinate under the protection of their own gum. Mistletoe cannot live in soil but must steal its nourishment from a host tree’s sap veins.

As the mistletoe fastens on to its host, the tree begins to swell. No amount of chopping, short of limb amputation, can eradicate a mature mistletoe. Small infested limbs can be removed by pruning. This is one of the more effective control methods. Cut limbs at least 12 inches below the mistletoe. Cuts that are made immediately below the stem of the mistletoe, may leave some of the root system. The remaining haustoria will develop a new top. Mistletoe also grows on large limbs or the tree’s trunk. When growing on a large limb or trunk, remove only the mistletoe. Do not try to scoop out a portion of the host when removing the plant. If a portion of the wood is removed in an attempt to remove the mistletoe roots, the structure of the limb or trunk is weakened and is more susceptible to breakage due to wind or ice accumulation during the winter months. Wood rotting and canker fungi use the cut as an entry point.

The death is slow and painless to the tree. The mistletoe, which loves all trees, can slowly decay everything from elms, hackberries, walnuts, gums and mesquites to mere skeletons. Trees vary in susceptibility to the parasite. Cedar and juniper are not bothered by this plant and pecan, live oak and magnolia trees are seldom infected with mistletoe.

How does one protect their tree from the deadly mistletoe? There may not be anything one can do. Many things have been tried. Herbicides such as Round Up, 2,4,D, Paraquat, MSMA and DSMA have been evaluated in field trials and conducted by members of the Texas Agricultural extension but these were not effective. They also caused injury to the tree. A commercial product called Florel has been approved by the EPA recently. It contains an ethylene compound. Ethylene is a natural occurring plant hormone that increases during fruit ripening. Florel is applied during the winter months and is said to kill the the top but by later summer, new growth is observed breaking through the bark of the limb. The problem with this chemical, as with many chemicals, is that it can drift and expose other trees and plants which can cause leaf shedding.

Another method is to kill the mistletoe before it goes to seed and is transferred to other plants or trees. Mistletoe takes two to three years to reach maturity. If the plant is removed before then, you can keep it from seeding.

When selecting a tree for the landscape, check with a local arborist, nursery or County Extension Agent for trees that are adapted to your area and do not have a major problem with mistletoe.

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

The Amazing Olive Tree

The olive tree, or as it is known Olea europaea and comes from the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean, Syria, Asia Minor and northern Iran. The cultivation of the olive tree is something people have been practicing for many years.

While the fruit of the tree is primarily used for the making of olive oil, the wood has been utilized for the making of furniture and the leaves for medicinal use.

It is believed that the first olive trees were grown in Syria. In Ancient Greece, the tree was seen as holy and people were punished if caught cutting it down. Because of the tree’s fruit, medicinal use and history, many myths and lore have been written about it. In Homer’s Odyssey, the tree is talked about. Greek myth even has tales that involve the olive tree. For instance, Athena won the patronship of Attica from Poseidon with the gift of the olive. The olive tree is mentioned in other stories and myths. Theophrastus speaks of the olive tree of Athens and the Roman poet Horace mentions it in his diet. The olive tree and olives are mentioned in the Bible over 30 times. And, in the Quran, it is praised as a precious fruit.

Olives have been cultivated and grown commercially as far back as 3000 BC by the people of Crete and it was a source of wealth of the Minoan civilization. Ancient Greeks would smear olive oil on their bodies and hair for grooming and health.

After the 16th century, the olive was brought to the New World by the Europeans. Its cultivation began in Mexico, Peru, Chile and Argentina. By the 18th century it found its way to California. Today, some believe there are over 800 million olive trees in the world, with the vast majority still found in the Mediterranean countries.

The olive is harvested in the autumn and winter. Green olives are picked at the end of September to the middle of November. Blond olives are picked from the middle of October to the end of November and the black olives are collected several weeks into winter. The seasons vary to each country. Olives are harvested through the shaking of the boughs or the whole tree. Some harvest the olive by standing on a ladder and ‘milking’ them into a sack tied around their waist. There is also a device called an oli-net that wraps around the tree trunk and opens in the form of an umbrella like catcher from which workers collect the fruit. For large commercial olive growers, an electric tool is used call the oliviera. It has large tongs that spin around quickly, removing the fruit from the tree. Because the fruit is usually damaged, this method is used for the making of oil.

When picking olives for the eating, or what is called ‘table olives’, more care has to be taken as to not damage the fruit. Baskets are hung around worker’s necks and olives are harvested by hand.

Olives are a naturally bitter fruit so it typically is fermented or cured with lye or brine to make it more palatable. The use of natural microflora on the fruit is used to ferment the fruit. This fermentation leads to important outcomes: the leaching out and breakdown of oleuropein and phenolic compounds and the creation of lactic acid, which is a natural preservative. The result is a product which will store with or without refrigeration. American black olives are not fermented, which makes them taste milder than green olives.

Fresh olives are often sold at markets. Olives can be used green, ripe green (a yellower shade of green, or green with hints of color), through to full purple black ripeness. Olives should be selected for general good condition and for firmness if green.

Olives can also be flavored by soaking them in various marinades, or removing the pit and stuffing them. Popular flavorings are herbs, spices, feta, capsicum, chili, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic cloves, wine, vinegar, juniper berries and anchovies.

The olive and its use has only grown with time – this is possibly why the tree has always been so sacred.

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

Dead Trees Equals Energy

There are many ways to produce energy and one of them is based on wood waste. Through the use of wood waste such as dead limbs, dead trees, thinned trees and other wood products that typically are discarded, energy is created from direct incineration. How does this work?

Wood products are converted to energy in a handful of ways. They include:

Thermal Conversion – Heat is used to turn the biomass or wood into another chemical form. Forms of thermal conversion include combustion, torrefaction, pyrolysis, and gasification. Thermal conversion basically takes plant matter and heats it, but doesn’t burn it and yet breaks it down into various gases, liquids and solids. These products are further processed and refined into useful fuels. Biomass gasifies capture methane released from the plants and burn it in a gas turbine to produce electricity. Another option is to take these fuels and run them through fuel cells, converting the hydrogen-rich fuels into electricity and water with few or no emissions.

Chemical Conversion – With this process, biomass is chemically converted into a liquid similar to diesel fuel.

Biochemical Conversion – Biochemical breaks down the molecules of the woody products to create biomass. Micro-organisms are often used to perform the conversion process through anaerobic digestion, fermentation, and composting. Bacteria, yeasts and enzymes break down the carbohydrates. A similar process is used to turn corn into grain alcohol or ethanol, which is mixed with gasoline to make gasohol.

Biomass has become a popular energy alternative due to its availability and soft impact on the environment. While biomass is only used to create 1.4 percent of the U.S. electricity supply, its potential is greater. The use of biomass reduces air and water pollution, increases soil quality and is said to reduce erosion and improve wildlife habitat. Biomass reduces air pollution by being a part of the carbon cycle, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent, compared to fossil fuels. Fewer fertilizers and pesticides are used to grow energy crops, which reduces water pollution. Biomass crops are also renewable.

Other products used for biomass besides tree clippings and dead trees include garbage, various forms of grasses, and animal matter. Within the wood industry, wood is turned into what is called pulping liquor. Pulping mills have used black liquor as an energy source since the 30s. Black liquor is obtained from cooking pulpwood into paper pulp, removing lignin, hemicelluloses and other extractives from the wood, which frees the cellulose fibers. The result is an aqueous solution that contains half of the energy content of the wood, which is then fed into a digester. Due to this energy, pulp mills are now burning as much of the black liquor they produce as possible, generating steam – thus helping the mills reduce problems with water emissions, reducing their use of chemicals by recovery and reuse, and helping them become nearly energy self-sufficient.

The development and use of biomass is a growing industry, mostly as effective as the proximity of the products – such as wood, is to the plant where it is processed. As it continues to grow, it could help meet America’s large energy consumption needs.

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

The Arizona Cypress

The Arizona Cypress, scientifically known as the cupressus arizonica, is a species of cypress found in very specific places around the globe. The tree is native to such areas, as: southwestern New Mexico and Arizona, west Texas, and southern California. Specifically, the tree can be found within the Chisos Mountains, as well as the Sierra Juarez pine-oak forest of Mexico. The tree falls under the cupressaceae family line. It is believed that this variety of cypress is prehistoric, and existed over 10,000 years ago.

This average sized Arizona cypress normally reaches fifty to sixty feet in height, and fifteen to thirty inches in diameter. The spread of such a tree can reach up to thirty feet at full maturation. It can grow up to three feet per year, for its first three years. Its physical image is that of a red-brown bark, grayish leaves and cones that are often one inch in diameter. The cones begin to grow in fall of its second life season. They are often consumed by squirrels when on the tree and rodents after they fall.

The Arizona Cypress is prone to growing on dry lands, mountain slopes or the inner walls of deep canyons. The tree only requires approximately ten inches of water each year, which allows for its growth in desolate areas. It does require direct sunlight on a regular basis, which is why they grow easily in the southwest of the United States, as well as northern Mexico.

Today, the Arizona cypress is slowly dying in numbers. It is believed that the drought of 1996 put a strain on a large grouping of plants. Also, the cypress bark beetle is known to attack and weaken the limbs and trunks of cypress trees. The bark beetles lay eggs within the tree’s bark. After the larvae hatch, they tunnel into the tree, ruining its nutrient tubing and tissues. This quickens the death of the tree. Other enemies of this dry-earth creature are mistletoe and rust. Mistletoe, a parasite, with also slowly eat away at the tree’s nutrient system, killing it off within a short time span.

There are several environmental uses for the Arizona cypress tree. Although the actual timber existing within the tree has little value for building purposes, it is often used for craft woods. The entire tree has also been used as the desert Christmas tree in family’s homes. The tree is thick in branching, so it is often planted to divert heavy winds from natural tunnel areas. As it also has a sturdy root system and trunk, fence posts are created from the tree as corrals for cattle and horses.

The Arizona cypress has been around for years, and continues to grow in the vast deserts and harsh weathers of the south. With its multitude of natural uses the tree will continue to be used for southwest landscaping. Whether grown at home, or in the wild, this piece of nature contains a great deal of history.

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

Xeriscaping Your Property

Xeriscaping is a type of landscaping wherein the focus is to create a natural garden or lawn-area that requires minimal water and/or maintenance.  Often times this landscaping option will include sculptural features, rocks, gravel and simple plantings.  In dry climates, xeriscaping will include cacti and other succulents.  The lawn will also be tolerant of droughts; which are prone to some regions within the south.  Areas that have intense moisture will tend to use more foliage.  It is often the idea that in placing the correct negative spaces in type of landscaping, that the positive plantings can grow naturally within a chosen area.  The professionals that specialize in xeriscaping are often referred to as ‘xeriscapers’.

There are many reasons why individual or commercial property owners choose to xeriscape their property.  The conservation of water has become an important part of our daily existence on earth.  It is not only environmentally-friendly to conserve water, but it can also substantially cut down on water costs.  There are even some regions in the south and southwest, where water usage is monitored for lawn care.  In particular cases such as this, to xeriscape, may be a good option.

Currently cities in the south and southwest have been encouraging their citizens to xeriscape.  Contests have been held for creativity, efficiency and visual beauty.  Most all municipalities will continue to encourage the technique for water conservation purposes.

There are several other reasons of efficiency as to why this new method of landscaping has becoming quite popular.  There are many ways in which landscaping costs can be lessened, as well as ways in which the environment can benefit.

Fuel:  The conservation of fuel has become an important topic these days.  To preserve fuel, by not having to mow an entire lawn, or trim grasses, can be cost effective. 

Solar-Power:  It is often the case that when considering fountains, waterfalls or lighting for a minimalist landscape, solar panels can always be an option.  Solar-power can conserve energy, as well as drop electrical costs.

Zen gardens have become another way in which to minimalize the grasses and maintenance of a lawn.  With fountains, miniature river scenes, and rock/sand gardens, the zen garden can also become a place for meditation or basic beauty.

A ‘xeriscaped’ lawn can be a creative way in which to design an outside living area.  Most all landscaping architects or plant/tree companies will have trained employees to better help you with your visions and ideas.  In conserving the earth’s resources and creating an area with magnificent visual aesthetics, it is easy to fall into such an interesting new idea.  A dry desert climate is not a requirement for xeriscaping.  The technique would apply to any persons interested in simplifying their lawn care and lowering utility costs all-together.  Although the task of xeriscaping a lawn can be tedious and strenuous and first, the results could be phenomenal. 

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

Sage or Not Sage

Saging or smudging ones home has become a popular practice among many. Considered an ancient Native American tradition to drive away bad spirits or negative energies, people across the country – especially the west and southwest, are often in search of some sage of their own.

But do they know the difference between the type of sage burned for ceremonies and sage that grows on shrubbery? There is a difference, even though the two look somewhat similar and are promoted equally.

The first, Sagebrush or Artermesia tridentate is not the type of sage Native Americans typically burn for energy clearing. Despite this fact, hundreds of people are pulling its leaves off and bundling them just for this cause. The sagebrush is of the shrub family and grows in arid sections of the western United States and Western Canada. It is a coarse, hardly silvery-grey bush with yellow flowers and grows up to 10 feet tall but most typically 1 to 2 feet tall.

Sagebrush has a strong fragrance, like sage, but a bitter taste. The sagebrush’s leaves are wedge shaped, about 1-4 cm long and are attached to the branch by the narrow end. The outer and wider end is generally divided into three lobes. The leaves are covered with fine silvery hairs, which protect the plant from water loss. Sagebrush flowers bloom in the late summer or early fall.

The White Sage or Sacred Sage comes from the Salvia apiana family. This sage is of the mint family, while the Artemesia is of the sunflower family. Salvia apiana is typically only found in Southern California and in the Baja area.

White sage also looks quite different than sagebrush. It is a sub-shrub that grows a little over a meter tall and has leaves that are 4 to 8 cm long. The leaves are covered with dense hairs giving them a white coloring. The leaves also have tapered bases and are minutely toothed. The leaves are also highly aromatic and are used for the smudging.

Although we think of the White Sage primarily for smudging, Native Americans have used these plants for several uses. Seeds have been ground into flour to make porridge. Leaves are used for flavoring cooking or to remedy colds. Seeds are dropped into the eye to cleanse eyes. Leaves are crushed and mixed with water to make shampoo and dye. Leaves have also been used in teas to decrease sweating, salivation and mucous secretions in the sinuses, throat and lungs. Leaves have also been used as a uterine hemostatic during heavy menstruation.

As far as the smudge sticks, the white sage leaf is believed to cleanse a space of evil spirits. It is said that the plant when burned releases a fragrance that negative spirits dislike the smell of. In this, the sage also releases a troubled mind. Sage leaves are often bundled into ‘wands’ and wrapped tightly to keep them burning. The wands are about 6 to 18 inches long. To draw in positive spirits, sweetgrass is then burned.

Some traditionalists believe only the White Sage should be used for ceremony. Others say any sage of the Salvia family will work. Then of course, there are those who say herbs from the Asteracea family are just as useful.

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

History of the Bonsai Tree

The bonsai tree first originated in China, a little over one thousand years ago. Pun-Sai was the term that described the practice of growing a single small tree within a potting system. These trees were grown because the warped trunks and branches had images parallel to that of: dragons, birds and other types of known animals. In the late 1800’s, the bonsai was introduced to Japan. Those of Eastern Buddhist religion grew the trees, representing the internal bond between human and nature. The notion was to bring the outside greenery into the monk temples, and close the gap between man and nature. At this time, only monasteries or monk philosophers owned such trees. As the bonsai tree began to grow into more of an art form in the fourteenth century, the ownership broadened to the artist and the elite societies.

These elite Japanese professionals took to growing the trees indoors also, as did the monks. To maintain the bonsai was to reduce the tree down to its essential portions. The idea was that the tree itself was just as sacred as the empty spaces between branches. The minimalist philosophy was very strong in Japan at this point in history.

By the early nineteenth century, artists, and the general public began to deem the surrounding soil and rock formations in a bonsai pot just as important as the tree itself. This miniature landscaping was to replicate that of a natural existence; artistically presenting the bonsai tree in its natural wilderness environment. Ceramicists also took interest in the bonsai, as the pots required for their planting and growth were additionally to be of such artistic background.

In 1921 Norio Kobayashi published the first ever issue of Bonsai magazine. The magazine production consisted of over five hundred issues. The articles described pruning techniques, history and potting strategy. Tree shaping also became very popular for nature hobbyists, after the first year’s publication.

At the end of the 19th century travelers and soldiers to and from Japan took notice of the bonsai, and began purchasing them from small Japanese shops. Exhibitions broke out through London and Paris, presenting the pruned, potted bonsai, as art. The Paris World Exhibition gave the public more of an understanding of these tiny mysteries, raising the purchase demand. The people of Japan capitalized on the highly requested piece of nature, trading them for goods and money. Tree nurseries were formed just to grow and house bonsai trees. By the 1970’s, there were over six hundred bonsai farmers, with over two hundred species of bonsai being sold.

Today the bonsai has reached a significantly diverse audience of: artists, hobbyists, naturists, tree farmers and historians. The tiny trees are sold nationwide, via internet, phone and mail. The cultural background of this tree is now meshed with the pop culture of today. Families have bonsai trees growing in their home offices, while greenhouse owners tend to their outdoor species. The bonsai: a tradition of ages continues to grow popular around the globe.

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