Category: Blog

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One of the wonderful things about having a large tree on your property is all the fun you can have!  Tree climbing, treehouses, and, of course, tree swings. To protect the integrity of your tree it’s a good idea to properly install a tree swing.  

There are several things to consider when deciding where to hang your swing:

  1. Tree type.  Oaks are the prefered tree because of their strength.  Don’t hang your swing on evergreens, fruit trees, or any other tree that is prone to splitting easily.
  2. Branch size.  A large branch is key, and should be at least 8 inches around and no more than 20 feet from the ground.
  3. Branch condition.  Choosing a healthy branch is important for your safety.  Examine the branch from top to bottom for any signs of disease, distress, or infestation, and do not hang your swing on a dead tree branch!
  4. The branch should be large enough that the swing can hang from the tree at least three feet away without the branch bouncing.

To attach the swing, you’ll need an eye bolt and some rope.  There are several different types of rope you can use for your swing, such as polyester rope, nylon rope, polypropylene rope, natural rope fiber, or a metal chain.  

Safety is very important in the installation and enjoyment of your rope swing.  Make sure to:

  • Replace the rope every few years.
  • Check the integrity of the branch to make sure it’s still stable.
  • Replace the eye bolt if the tree grows over it.
  • Use ropes and bolts that are approved for the maximum amount of weight.
  • Check the knots on the rope to prevent unraveling.

Tree swings can greatly increase the enjoyment of your trees for years to come.

 

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Birds are a wonderful addition to any yard or garden.  They eat harmful bugs and insects that eat your plants.  By planting trees that attract birds, you provide food and shelter for these creatures, which is good for the environment.  Here’s a list of some of the best trees to bring birds to your yard.

 

  1. Oak.  Oak trees are great native trees to plant in your yard.  Birds love to make their nests in all of the nooks and crannies found along the tree trunk.  Oak trees provide acorns which make delicious meals for birds. Insects are drawn to oak trees, and birds enjoy eating these bugs.
  2. Dogwood.  Cardinals and bluebirds loves eating the sweet fruit from the dogwood tree.  
  3. Maple.  Maple trees attract lots of bugs who like to eat the foliage in the fall.  It also produces a lot of acorns for the birds to eat.
  4. Elm.  Elm is a flowering tree that attract bugs and hummingbird to it.  It’s a wonderful tree for birds to make their home.
  5. Bald Cypress.  Birds love to make their nest in the bald cypress, and this tree provides lots of seeds for birds to eat.
  6. Mulberry.  Mulberry trees have flowering fruit that shows in the summertime, but it can be a messy tree, so it’s a good idea to plant it away from sidewalks and driveways.
  7. Crabapple.  Crabapple trees produce fruit in the fall and last through the winter.  This tree is perfect for many different birds, but make sure to choose a tree that has smaller fruit, as it will be easier for the birds to eat.
  8. Spruce.  These large trees make nice homes for birds, and the evergreen needles make great food for insects.

 

Having a variety of trees for birds to eat and live can bring a lot of life in your yard or garden.

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Trees are an important part of any yard or garden, and it’s important to take care of your trees.  Trees need water, sunlight, and nutrients, but to help your trees really thrive you’ll need to provide extra TLC with fertilizer and compost.  Compost tea is one thing that trees really love!

Compost tea is full of nutrients that not only benefit your trees, but every other plant in your garden.  Compost tea is much better for the environment than chemical fertilizers and other chemical solutions for pest control.  Chemical pesticides not only kill the bad pests, but also the good bugs that help keep the trees healthy. Compost tea helps to kill bad bugs and pests and encourage microorganisms to grow.  These microorganisms help heal the trees from infections and disease.

Compost tea helps trees retain nutrients.  Using fertilizers to help your tree get healthy will work, but it can kill the microorganisms that are good for the tree.  Compost tea eliminates the need for fertilizers and keeps those microorganisms alive.

Compost tea helps release nutrients slowly, so that the trees get more nutrients over time.  It helps with the absorption of water and nutrients through the roots .

Soil structure is improved with the help of compost tea.  It encourages aeration of the soil, which helps the roots get enough oxygen.  Compost tea allows for proper moisture to get to the tree. Compost tea helps the leaves open up, ensuring the intake of nutrients for the tree.  

To make a batch of compost tea, simply shovel a bit of compost from your compost pile into a bucket of water and let it step for several days.  You can also aerate the tea to get oxygen flowing through it, which helps with the smell of the tea. To apply, either pour it directly on the roots, or use a sprayer to spray it onto the leaves.  

Compost tea is an excellent way to keep your trees very healthy.

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Tree fungus can be a dangerous disease that can affect the health of your trees.  To protect your trees, it’s important to know what type of fungus is growing on your tree so that you can properly diagnose your tree.  Here are some of the most common tree fungi to watch out for on your trees.

  1. Oak wilt.  Oak wilt is one of the worst fungi to attach to your tree.  Oak wilt attacks red and live oaks. A good sign that your oak may be affected by oak wilt is if you notice the leaves turning brown and dropping.  Oak wilt spreads through the roots, and can be carried by beetles that feed on the tree.
  2. Armillaria.  Armillaria can cause tree leaves to wilt and turn yellow.  The wood becomes spongy and it’s common to see mushrooms growing along the base of the tree.  Keep mulch away from the base of the tree will help your tree avoid growing armillaria.
  3. Ganoderma.  Elms, oaks, and ash trees can grow this type of fungi along its roots and lower trunk.  Leaves may begin to yellow or grow smaller than normal. Ganoderma is contracted through spores landing in open wounds in the tree.  If you have a tree infected with ganoderma, removal of the tree is vital for the survival of your other trees.
  4. Hypoxylon cankers.  Drought increases the likelyhood of your tree contracting these cankers.  Pecan trees can develop this disease, and once infected, the trees can die very quickly.
  5. Leaf spots.  Leaf spots are a very common fungus that affects trees in Texas, especially during the rainy season.  Leaf spots do not cause any great damage to the tree, they just don’t look great.

If you suspect that one or more of your trees is suffering from any type of tree fungus, it’s best to call a professional arborist to come out and diagnose your trees.

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Girdling roots are when a tree’s roots wrap around themselves and cut off the water and nutrients a tree gets.  Root girdling is common, and can kill your tree. Although it is common, it is not natural, as girdling is caused by environmental issues in urban settings.

The most common cause of root girdling is improper planting or transplanting of the tree.  Trees that spend too much time in pots can get girdling roots. The roots keep growing but have nowhere else to grow, so they wrap around themselves.  This can also happen when a tree is planted in a hole that’s too small.

It’s important to keep this in mind when planting a tree too close to foundation or a sidewalk, as this can also impede the roots from growing naturally.  Leaving pieces of the container in which the tree was grown in can also affect the growth of the roots later on down the line.

You can tell if your tree has girdled roots by checking the trunk for an abnormal flare.  Normal trees have trunks that flare from the ground, but trunks with girdled roots have skinny trunks.  The leaves will also show signs of distress, such as early leaf drop and canopy dieback.

Prevent a tree from getting girdling roots by digging a large enough hole for the roots to grow.  The hole should be about three times as large as the root ball. Do not put mulch right up against the trunk.  If the root ball is encircled around itself, make sure to break the root ball up before planting it.

If you think your tree may be suffering from girdled roots, contact a professional arborist.

 

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Nothing says fall like beautiful autumn leaves.  You don’t have to go all the way up north to see the bright foliage.  Here’s a few of the best trees to bring in the fall.

  1. Gingko.  Gingkos produce gorgeous yellow leaves in the fall.  Gingko trees can grow up to 80 feet and have an umbrella shape.  
  2. Smokebush.  Smokebush, or smoketrees, can be grown into a full tree, or shortened to a bush.  The tree produces yellow flowers in the summer. When they fade, they produce pinkish purplish hairs that look like smoke.  The leaves turn orange, yellow, or red.
  3. Katsura Tree.  Katsura trees are wonderful shade trees in the summer, and then their leaves turn a pinkish yellow in the fall.  They can grow to be up to 60 feet tall.
  4. Witch Hazel.  Witch hazel is a tree with beautiful yellow flowers.  The leaves turn yellow in the fall.
  5. Pomegranate.  The fruit of the pomegranate is beautiful with its pink skin, and the leaves of this tree turn a bright yellow.  
  6. Maple.  Maple trees are synonymous with fall leaves.  These leaves turn all shades of red, orange, and yellow.  Maple trees can grow to be up to 75 feet tall.
  7. Redbud.  Redbud is a small tree, and its leaves turn yellow in the fall.  Some varieties turn reddish-purple.
  8. Liquidambar.  Liquidambar trees can grow up to 100 feet tall.  The leaves turn orange, yellow, scarlet, and purple.  
  9. Flowering cherry.  Flowering cherry is a tree that has beautiful blossoms in the spring, and lovely leaves in the fall that turn yellow, red, and orange.

If you are considering planting one of these trees in your yard, be sure that you have a large property.  A lot of these trees have expansive root system and they can cause damage to existing structures, such as driveways and foundations.  The best way to look at these trees is to take a leisurely drive.

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If you’ve ever planted a tree, then you know how important it is to know what’s under the ground before you start digging. Thankfully, there’s a number you can call to find out if your planting spot is a good one.

811 is the number to dial to find out if you can dig a hole deep enough to plant a tree.  It’s a federally designated number to inform the public of underground lines. You can also find out this information by going to Call811.com.  The information is free and is for public safety.

Places in the United States have become more and more crowded, and with construction being done all the time, it’s never been more important to check the ground for utility lines before digging.  Damage to these lines can cause serious damage to the environment, not to mention the financial penalties for destroying these lines. It’s extremely dangerous to dig without knowing what’s below, and hitting a line could cause injury or even death.

Here are the steps to take before you start digging.

  1. Plan it out.  Figure out exactly where you want to start digging and mark it off with white lines or flags.  Have all the details of the dig, such as who will be doing the digging, etc., before you call 811.
  2. Call 811.  Dialing 811 will connect you with the information about where to dig, and to put in a request to dig.
  3. Wait for marks.  After filing the request, wait for two to three business days for someone to come out and mark the different utility lines.
  4. Double check the marks.  It may be important for more than one expert to come out and check the marks.  Compare the marks to the list you were initially given when you first called to make sure they line up.  
  5. Dig carefully!  Once everything checks out, you’re set to dig, but use caution!  Be sure you know the root expansion expectation before you plant any tree to be sure it won’t cause future damage to any utility lines or foundations.

Planting a tree is is a wonderful thing to do for our environment, but it’s very important to call before you dig.

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It’s a scorching summer’s day and out of nowhere a large, heavy branch comes crashing down from one of your trees.  The winds weren’t strong and there wasn’t a storm, so what made this branch fall?

Sudden Branch Drop Syndrome, or Summer Limb Failure, can happen to any tree, but it’s most common in oak, sycamore, elm, ash, beech, and eucalyptus.  The first time a limb falls from your tree can be alarming, but it’s not typically a one and done thing. Other branches can break off as well.

The cause of Sudden Branch Drop Syndrome is not quite clear, but there are some theories as to why this may happen.  One theory is that the tree soaks up too much water during hot summer days and the branches become too heavy for the tree and break off.  Another theory is that it’s caused by bacterial wetwood. Unfortunately, because there is no definitive answer, there is no way to prevent it.  With that being said, there are certain steps you can take to prevent further damage to your trees.

If you happen to see a large branch that has fallen from one of your trees, call an arborist to come out and inspect the tree.  They can safely take care of any dangerous limbs and treat the rest of the tree should there be any infections or pests. A professional arborist can set up a schedule for inspection for the future to make sure the tree is in good health.

Your arborist may suggest you trim the upper canopy of your tree to cut down on humidity, which may cause added moisture on your tree.  You’ll also want to trim any additional branches that may be a hazard should they fall. Be on the lookout for any “bleeding”, or a darker spot on your tree, as this could mean your tree has an excess of water in its branch and could be prone to breakage.

When landscaping under older trees, always use caution.  Don’t place benches or chairs beneath large branches in case of breakage.  The best way to prevent Sudden Branch Drop Syndrome is by properly pruning, watering and mulching your trees, and when anything abnormal appears with your tree, contacting your local arborist to investigate.

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If you’ve just removed a tree from your yard, or just have an unsightly stump in your yard, you probably want to remove the stump, but are not sure how.  There are several ways you can get rid of that tree stump once and for all, depending on the type of root system you’re working with.

  1. Digging up the stump.  Start this method by digging around the tree to expose the roots underneath.  You’ll want to dig deep to expose as much of the root system as possible. If it seems like the roots are too deep or too large, another method may work out better.  Expose the roots almost to their tips. Use a root saw to cut up the roots and pull them up out of the ground. Avoid using an axe, as it could shatter. ONce the majority of the roots are pulled up, you should be able to pry up the stump.  Cut any additional roots that may cause the stump to get caught. Don’t forget to fill the hole will sawdust to keep your yard level.
  2. Grinding the stump.  Another method for removing the stump is grinding.  You can rent a stump grinder from your local hardware store, or hire a professional to take care of it for you.  Be sure to wear protective gear if you decide to use the grinder yourself. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and work the machine around the tree to grind up the stump and roots.  Remove the grindings from the area and fill the hole with sawdust.
  3. Burning the stump.  Before you decide to go this route, make sure that it’s legal where you are to burn a stump.  Surround the stump with wood so as the stump is in the center. The stump will take several hours to burn.  It’s important to keep the fire burning large and hot. Once the stump is burnt, remove the ash from the area, and fill the hole with sawdust.
  4. Chemically removing the stump.  Drill several holes in the top of the stump with a large drill bit.  The holes should be spaced evenly apart. Fill the holes with the stump remover.  The powder will make the wood softer and more susceptible to rot. Keep children and pets away from the stump.  Ingesting the powder can be harmful. The stump should be ready to remove in a few weeks. Once it’s ready, use an axe to chop up the stump, and remove pieces as you go.  Once the majority of the stump is removed, burn the remainder of the stump. Remove the ash and fill the hole with sawdust.

 

However you decide to remove the stump, please practice caution, and when in doubt, hire a professional to get the job done.

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Tree root rot is a devastating disease that can kill your trees and plants in a matter of two weeks.  It attacks trees that are growing in very wet or damp soil. The symptoms of root rot are poor growth, wilted leaves, early leave drop, and then death.

Texas root rot, also known as cotton root rot, or Phymatotrichum root rot, is a disease that is common in Mexico and the southern United States. Apple, pecan, and most ornamental trees can be affected by Texas root rot.  

The main cause of root rot is an oversaturation of the roots, either because there is poor drainage or the tree is overwatered.  This prevents the roots from getting enough oxygen, and they begin to decay and rot. Even if the water problem has been taken care of, the rot can still spread to healthy roots.  

If the tree’s root system is already weak, soggy soil can make the tree more susceptible to root rot.  Soil fungus can be living dormant in the soil, and over watering the tree could wake the fungus up. The fungus can then attack the tree roots, causing them to decay and die.  There are several different types of fungi that can cause this rot, such as Pythium, Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, and Fusarium.

Obviously, it’s hard to diagnose root rot since roots live underground, but there are ways to look for symptoms above ground.  These symptoms include:

  • Wilted, yellow, or small leaves
  • Decline in growth for no apparent reason
  • Thinning of the canopy
  • Cankers or sunken dead areas

It’s better to try to prevent root rot than to try to control rot once it has taken hold of the tree.  Avoid over watering your tree, and make sure the soil drains well. If you catch rot early enough, you can prune the roots that have already been infected.  If it’s too late for one tree, you may have to remove the entire tree to avoid infecting multiple trees in the area. Be sure to disinfect any tools that have been used in the treatment or removal of any infected trees.

If you suspect that one or more of you trees has been infected with root rot, contact your local arborist as soon as possible.