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Oak wilt is a fungal disease that affects the water conducting system of red, white and live oak trees.  This disease was discovered in 1961 in Dallas but wasn’t diagnosed definitively until the 80’s.  It had the potential to be the most destructive disease in the US but has been most devastating in the state of Texas.  We are just past the worst time to prune oak trees, February to June. Wounds can be an entry point for the sap eating beetle.  You can paint the branches you prune with even an inexpensive latex spray paint. Oak roots can clone an overlay another root system so this disease can spread as far as 200 yards away.  The veins of the leaf turn orange so this is you first indication that the sease is present and this disease spreads and kills the tree quickly so preventing it from spreading to other oaks is most important.  Removing and burning the tree is best as heat kills the fungus. Texasoakwilt.org is a good website to learn more.    

Texas A & M AgriLIfe has a handbook that lists all the diseases including many funguses of different species of trees in Texas.  Your local agriculture extension office is a good source to help you diagnose the problem. You can send them a picture or take in a sample.        

You may have noticed pecan trees lining your neighborhood, their nuts green and almost ready to drop.  Texas is the second largest producer of pecans in the country, and everyone looks forward to pecan pies in the fall.  Here are some helpful tips to help you make the most of your pecan nut harvest.

Pecans begin to fall from September through November.  Nut pods are green until they get ready to drop. They then turn brown and reveal the nuts we see in the stores.  One of the wonderful things about harvesting pecans is that there’s no need to climb a ladder. Pecans will fall on their own, but it’s important to be quick when picking them up from the ground.  Pecans that are left too long on the ground are susceptible to squirrels, mold, and sun damage. However, if the ground is dry, it will cure the pecans and make them taste better.

There are several ways to gather nuts once they’ve fallen on the ground.  You can bend over and pick them up, but that can be exhausting. There are wire cages you can purchase online or at any feed store.  Another way to collect nuts is to lay a tarp on the ground before you suspect your nuts will drop. Then you can just pick up the entire tarp and harvest your pecans that way.

Once you have gathered the nuts from the ground, it’s time to go through the nuts and get rid of any nuts that are bad.  Look for nuts with holes in them, or listen to them when you shake them. If you hear a hard rattle inside, the nut is not good for harvest.  Nuts with the green husks still on them are not good, either.

There are several methods for extracting the meat from the pecan shells.  A good investment is to get a nutcracker that is specifically for cracking pecan shells.  Another go to is using a hammer and a nail to crack them open, however, you aren’t as likely to get that perfect nut out of the shell.  

If you have a compost pile in your yard, pecan shells are a perfect addition.  They won’t harm your yard like walnut shells.

Once the nuts are shelled, store them in freezer bags in your freezer up to one whole year!

Believe it or not, it’s fall and that means it’s time to prepare our trees for the colder months ahead.  Follow these tips to make sure that your trees stay healthy through the winter and thrive when spring comes around.

  1. Fertilize.  Summertime can drain your trees of the nutrients they need once the weather gets cooler.  A slow release fertilizer will replenish any nutrients they’ve lost this summer and keep them healthy through the winter.  A good fertilizer will also protect your trees from pests and diseases.
  2. Hydrate.  Summer is hot and dry, and your trees need to get plenty of water to store up for the winter.  Try subsurface watering to quench your tree’s thirst. Subsurface watering works by inserting an injection probe around your tree’s roots to make sure the roots are getting enough moisture.  
  3. Plant new trees.  Fall is the ideal time to plant new trees.  The weather is much cooler and you won’t have to worry about damaging new trees with sun scorch.  It gives the root structure a chance to establish before dormancy.
  4. Prepare you trees for success.  Fall is the perfect time to brace your trees for winter.  Winter is a very stressful time for trees, so cable and brace your trees for extra support.  Make sure your trees are pruned well to avoid breakage from frost and cold weather storms.
  5. Mulch.  Mulching is very important to keep nutrients and water in, and bugs and root eating animals out.  Mulching also protects your trees from fungus growth.
  6. Spray for insects.  Tree trunks make great homes for insects and bugs in the winter, but this can cause damage to your trees.  Be sure to spray your trees with a safe insecticide to protect them.
  7. Wrap your young trees. Since some trees lose their leaves in the winter, it’s a good idea to wrap your trees in a paper wrap to prevent the trunks from getting sun scald.  

For extra assistance with your tree maintenance, hire a professional arborist to make sure your trees are getting the best possible care.

You may have seen large bumps on the trunks of trees and wondered what they were.  They’re called burls and to some people, they are worth a lot of money! Burls are knotty growths on the outside of trees that when cut open, have beautiful designs.  These growths usually occur when the tree has been under some kind of stress, such as a sickness, an injury, or a fungal infection. The tree’s natural growth patterns are disrupted and they create burls.  This growth is called cambial growth, and burls are formed to protect the rest of the tree from infection.

Burls can form on any kind of tree, but some trees are more susceptible to fungal infections.  High quality burl generally comes from redwood, walnut, cypress, teak, and maple. Burls look ugly, but they don’t hurt the tree.  Burls are covered in protective bark, even when they are underground. While burls aren’t harmful to the tree, some can grow so large and cause further stress to the tree by breaking the tree in half.  

Burls can take up to 30 or 40 years to reach maturity, that is to say, reach the age where the whorls and swirls on the inside of the burl are fully formed.  Burls can be removed from a healthy tree, but it must be done carefully and by a professional. Removing a burl from a tree without care can open a large wound on the tree and expose it to infection and disease.  

Because of their unusual patterns, burls are sought after by artists, car manufacturers, furniture makers, sculptors, and many other fine craftsmen.  The car company, Jaguar, uses walnut burl for the interior of their cars, and they even sponsor a 175 acre planting within the National Forest of the UK.  Walnut burls are extremely rare and grow underground, so you don’t know their worth until you dig up the entire burl.

If you’re interested in selling a burl on your property, measure the burl and take pictures of it from several angles.  A quality burl is covered in good bark with no signs of rot. To get the best deal for your find, contact a local woodturner who will be able to assess the burl and find a seller.  The American Association of Woodturners is a good place to start to find a reputable woodturner.

The weather is finally getting warmer, the sun is shining, and the days are longer.  Soon, trees will have their bright green leaves again. When does that typically happen?

Trees know when it’s time to break out their leaves again.  One way a tree knows is the warmer weather, especially after long cold periods.  A tree also knows it’s time to bud when the days get longer and there’s more sunlight for them to collect for energy.  Trees in the south typically begin to bloom about mid March.

When autumn hits, trees prepare for the harsh winters by going dormant, and protecting their buds with a harder shell.  The trees are still very much alive, but relatively inactive to survive on the energy they’ve stored all summer. Most trees have an internal timer that they set themselves to make sure they aren’t tricked into budding too early.  Many times, there’s a period of warm rains to thaw the out the ground, and then along comes one more freeze before spring. By having a set time of dormancy, trees can protect their young fresh shoots from any damage that final freeze may cause.  

Native trees are used to the change in the temperature in their area because they’ve been through the seasons before, and are able to adapt.  It’s important to not plant trees outside of the normal range of what they’re used to, as they can suffer. Changes in the temperature can also confuse and damage the new buds of the tree as well.  

Global warming can also have an effect on how soon a tree will break bud for the spring.  Too many changes in temperature can confuse a tree and make it harder for the tree to know when it’s time to bud.  If you have a tree in your yard that is not budding around the same time it would normally bud, it may be time to call an arborist to come out and make sure the tree is healthy.

Tree leaves in your neighborhood should be coming out and enjoying the spring weather, and so should you!

The weather is finally warming up bringing in the promise of spring!  There are several things to do to make sure your trees and shrubs are healthy and ready to thrive this spring season!

  1. Check out your trees and shrubs.
    The winter can be brutal on your plants, with the rain and constant freezing.  Many trees encounter problems with severe weather or pests and bugs that have burrowed into the trunk and branches.  It’s important to inspect your trees for any signs of damage, and if there are any, contact an arborist immediately to assess the situation and get your tree healthy and thriving again.
  2. Time to prune!
    Spring is a great time to prune away any dead branches from your trees.  Dead branches can cause stress on the healthy branches and prohibit new growth.  There are proper ways to prune your trees for optimal health and growth, and for any questions, contact a gardener or an arborist.
  3. Plants new trees.
    Spring is the perfect time to plant new trees in your yard.  Plant trees in a good location with plenty of sunlight, not too close to other trees, and make sure to water and feed your new sprout.  Planting trees is not only great for the environment, but more trees on your property can increase the value.
  4. Mulch your landscape.
    Mulching new plants and trees anchors and supports them for healthy growth.  It traps in moisture that the trees needs and can help against unwanted plants stealing important nutrients.
  5. Fertilize.
    Replace the nutrients that your plants may have lost during the harsh winter by adding organic fertilizer to the ground around your plants and trees.  This will help nourish and protect your plants from bugs, fungus, and extreme weather.

How do you plan on preparing your yard for the spring?

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria caused devastation through Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.  Many people lost their homes, their vehicles, and many possessions.  Thankfully, insurance is often available to help victims piece some of their belongings back together.  Unfortunately, this does not include the millions of trees that were destroyed in many of these cities’ forests, parks, and homes.

There are many ways you can help your trees to heal and regrow after a natural disaster.  The first step is to assess the damage.  Safety is very important, as heavy winds and rain can cause many dangerous situations.  Some fallen trees and branches may require a professional arborist to help remove the debris.  Remember, cleanup can be hazardous, even for professionals.

When using a chainsaw, make sure to only use it on the ground.  Hire professionals to cut limbs still attached to the tree.  Trees can often uproot underground pipes and damage power lines, which increases the probability of electrocution.  If suspected, call the electric company and your utilities to handle the cleanup.  

If there is a tree on your property that could still be saved, it’s best to consider hiring a professional arborist.  An arborist can be a very worthwhile investment to restore the trees to health.  Beware of scammers, though, and make sure to do a thorough check on the qualifications of the arborists to insure that they will not cause any further damage to your trees.  

Are there trees on your property that were damaged in one of the hurricanes?

Famous Oak Trees in Texas

Oak trees can live for hundreds of years, so it’s no wonder that there is a long history associated with these expansive trees.  Here are some of the most famous trees you and your family can visit in Texas.

Matrimonial Oak, San Saba County

This solid oak stands tall near an old country road.  Since the discovery of this oak, many proposals have been made underneath this shady tree, and many couples come back to get married!

The Cart War Oak, City of Goliad

Back around 1857, there were several violent incidents involving Texan and Mexican salesmen carting goods from the Gulf to San Antonio.  Texans thought that the Mexicans were undercutting them and offering their goods at a much lower price.  Hence, the Cart War broke out under the famously named tree.

The Goose Island Oak, Aransas County

This oak was once thought to be the largest live oak in the United States.  Approximately 1,100 years old, this incredible oak is located in Goose Island State Park near Rockport, Texas.

Treaty Oak, Austin, Texas

This tree was inducted into the American Forestry Association’s Hall of Fame for being a perfect specimen!  Unfortunately, a man in 1989 poisoned the oak to win back his love.  This hasn’t killed off the tree, thankfully, and the tree still stands today.

Panna Maria Oaks, Karnes County

Home of the very first Polish settlement in North America, this tree stands in the churchyard of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

The Zachary Taylor Oak, Rockport, Texas

This oak is named after the 12th president of the United States.  He and his troops reportedly camped out under this oak waiting for conditions to improve before attacking Mexico.

 

Do you know of any famous oaks in Texas?

 

Oak trees are beautiful, sturdy trees that can add a sense of awe to any yard or garden.  Houston and its surrounding areas are the perfect places to grow oak trees.  

Oak trees are wonderful companions for urban and suburban areas alike.  Their long branches provide shade to cool things down and their roots go deep so they don’t disturb sidewalks and roads.  Oak trees can live for a very long time, and provide homes for many indigenous animals.  

There are many different oak trees to choose from, and many of them are popular in the area.  Here are some of the most popular oak trees to plant around your home.

Live Oaks.  Live oak trees are very common in south and central Texas.  Unlike other oaks, these trees retain their leaves all year round, so yard work for these trees is down to a minimum.  They tend to grow very wide if they have enough room to do so.

Red Oaks.  Red oaks are popular for their beautiful red turning leaves in the fall.  Red Oaks also provide very little maintenance, making this a dream for any home or business.

White Oaks.  White oaks are wonderful trees to plant anywhere, however, they are difficult to transplant.  The best way to grow a white oak is by planting it from an acorn in the exact spot you wish for it to grow.

When deciding on a place to plant your oak, be sure to find a spot that is away from other trees, power lines, and homes, as oak trees grow very large and spread very wide.  It’s also a good idea to plant your oak tree away from homes and buildings in case of a storm or inclimate weather.  

There are a lot of factors that go in to where the best place to plant an oak tree, what type of soil is the best, and how to care for your tree once it has been planted.  To ensure the safety of your tree and to encourage a long and happy life, it’s best to contact a professional.  

Which oak tree is your favorite?

As many experienced with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the high winds and excessive rains took a toll on their trees and landscaping. Much of the care for trees after a hurricane should be done by professional arborists who have the equipment and training to do the job safely. You can take care of the small branches and the debris around your property, but consult with a professional about a plan of action in dealing with some of the larger items. Fallen Trees often topple power lines and even fall directly onto your home. These issues should be dealt with first.

Often your trees will have sustained damage to many of its branches, but carful removal of these limbs may allow the tree to survive. Young trees planted within the past few years are often pushed over by high winds. Trees that are less than 10 inches wide and planted within about six years can generally be saved. It is not practical to straighten larger, more mature trees that have blown over.

Call us today if you need help dealing with your larger trees. We have the equipment to deal with any sized tree or job.