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Ask any tree expert and they will tell you that one of the common risks of heavy rainfalls is root rot. This issue can develop from heavy rains, overwatering plants, or any other situation in which they get too much water. There are a range of various rots that ornamental shrubs and trees can develop, including root rot. An incredible range of plants can develop root rot, including houseplants as well as outdoor plants whether they are shrubs, trees, tomato plants, or something else.
There are two main causes of root rot, but it more likely to occur in warm soil that is full of water. It can happen because of a prolonged exposure to too much water, such as if the soil drains poorly following a heavy rainfall. This can cause some roots to not get enough oxygen and die back. That in turn leads to them decaying and rotting after they die. The rot will eventually spread to healthy roots and kill them and this may even occur if you fix the soil conditions, such as encouraging drainage in the area.
Root rot isn’t always caused by constant heavy rainfall or overwatering; sometimes it is due to fungus. In the case of root rot caused by fungus, the fungus can actually be in your soil for years. It will then come alive if the plant becomes overwatered just one or two times. The fungus causing the root rot will attack the roots, making them die and rot. Since Texas isn’t known for constant heavy rainfalls, root rot caused by fungus is more likely. If there is a heavy rainfall or two in the area, this may trigger the fungus within the soil to wake up, making it seem as if the recent stormy weather caused the rot.
How Do I Know If My Trees Have It
Although there are a few varieties of root rot that can affect your plants following heavy rains, the signs are pretty similar. As with any other root disease, you will notice that the leaves seem as if they have been stressed by a drought. They may also die quickly when late spring and early summer arrives and the temperatures rise.
All types of root rot share some symptoms, such as the leaves being smaller than normal, wilting, or becoming yellow or brown. The plant may just seem as if it is gradually getting less healthy without you knowing why. If you look at the roots and crowns, you may notice damaged areas that are black or brown.
In the case of Phytophthora root rot, the leaves of trees with root rot will wilt and turn purple, red, yellow, or dull green in color. It is possible for a tree with an infection to survive for several years. During that time, the bark by the soil line may have darkened in color. If you happen to cut away a bit of bark, you will notice the wood underneath is red to brown.
In the case of fusarium root rot, the plant’s foliage will also wilt and turn yellow while the plant dies. You are likely to first notice the symptoms on mature leaves. Some plants will also develop corky root rot, which is less aggressive. This type of root rot will reduce the plant’s vigor but not actually kill it.
It is fairly easy to diagnose root rot following a heavy rainfall. If you notice the symptoms mentioned above, look at the roots of the plant in question or have an arborist do so for you. If the roots feel mushy and are black, they are infected with root rot. They may even fall off your plant when touched. If the roots appear pale or black, but are pliable and firm, root rot is not the culprit.
Ways To Reduce And Prevent
If you suspect that any plants on your property are suffering from root rot, contact an arborist to help you treat the tree in question and determine whether it needs to be removed. One of the most important courses of action is to ensure that the area gets adequate water drainage. This can prevent the root rot from worsening and stop it from affecting other plants on your property at the next heavy rainfall. Sometimes, removing soil from the crown of your trees can also help. You want the root flare to be exposed since fungal infections are most common in that area.
Ideally, you will set up your saplings in such a way that the water drains away from them so this is never an issue during their lives. If you can, you should also consider going with a raised planting site, such as a mound of soil, as this will raise the plant’s roots and minimize the amount of water that pools after heavy rains.
The best way to treat root rot is unfortunately to remove the plant and then destroy it. This will be your only option in the case of severely infected plants, but some moderately affected ones can survive. To treat those, you would have to replant the tree or shrub in dry soil that is well-drained to prevent a repeat occurrence at the next rainfall. You can then use clean shears to prune away the diseased roots along with the top third to half of the plant’s growth.
It is crucial to prune the top portion of the plant as well, even if it appears health. This reduces the amount of stress placed on the remaining roots. Since you are removing some roots, the remaining ones would have to work harder to support the same amount of tree; trimming the top prevents this. Be sure to disinfect your tools and shears between cuts to prevent the root rot from spreading.
To be safe and give your tree or other plant the best chance of survival following a rainstorm, contact an arborist as soon as you suspect root rot. They will be able to tell you whether the plant can be saved and guide you through the process of doing so.
With such a strong history of hot summers, Texas residents are used to having to take special precautions during the warmest months of the year. In addition to staying cool, drinking plenty of water, and making sure your family does the same, you should make a conscious effort to care for your trees during the hot summer months. Just like people, trees need extra water during the summer, but the other precautions you should take are not necessarily as obvious.
Water Your Trees Enough
The most important part of caring for your trees during the summer months is making sure that they get enough water. There is unlikely to be enough natural rainfall in Austin to provide for your trees, especially recently planted ones or saplings. Remember that trees may lose hundreds of gallons worth of water on the hottest summer days. If you want to make sure your trees thrive throughout the summer, invest in a good irrigation system with the help of your landscaper or arborist. The ideal systems will minimize water evaporation and runoff so your trees get all of the water and none is wasted.
Soaker hoses are a good idea since they can help you get the tree wet enough for the water to reach the soil between 8 and 12 inches deep. You can also use a handheld hose and direct the water to the proper spot. Another option is to drill a hole within a five-gallon bucket so the water can drain out slowly, giving the tree time to absorb it.
Experts suggest that you water young trees about once each week and older ones monthly. Watering too often can cause its own problems and waste water. Just be sure to keep any local water usage regulations in mind when watering your trees. As important as caring for your trees is; it is more important that your area doesn’t develop a water shortage. That being said, if you have to choose between watering your trees and lawn; pick the trees as they take longer to grow.
Time The Watering Correctly
In addition to making sure you give your trees enough water to work with, you want to maximize the amount of time they have access to the water without sunlight. If you were to water your plants in the middle of the day during the hot summer, a large majority of the water would evaporate before it could enter the soil due to the harsh sunlight. You can avoid this by watering your trees early in the morning or in the evening after the sun has started to come down. Watering at one of these times maximizes the amount of time that the tree’s roots and the surrounding soil have to soak up the water before the sun makes it evaporate.
Cover With Mulch
Mulch is one of the most important tools to keep your trees healthy any time of the year, especially during the hot summers. Most arborists suggest applying mulch in a layer that is around two to three inches thick on top of the soil by the tree. Ideally, you want to be able to see the tree flare, the area where it widens when meeting the ground. Put the mulch right outside of this area or around six inches from the tree’s trunk.
Mulch serves two important purposes during the summer. It helps the soil retain the moisture by preventing evaporation and it reduces the overall temperature of the ground. Since hotter ground can be harder on the tree’s roots and simply absorb more water, both of these things are important.
Special Care For New Trees
If you have recently planted any new trees on your property, these will need special care during the hot summer months. Start by consulting with an arborist to select a tree that will do best in Houston weather. Trees that grow in field soil, for example, tend to dry out less quickly than those that grow in a soilless mix. While talking to your arborist, make sure that you know how much water your new tree will need, since it will need to be watered much more frequently than your older trees that have been on the property for years.
Because of the extra watering and attention needed, most experts suggest you try to plant your trees in spring as opposed to summer. If you forgot to do so or didn’t get organized in time, you will need to keep a close eye on the sapling.
As with any time of the year, you need to care for trees by pruning them during the summer months. This is essential for getting rid of diseased, damaged, or dead branches that can pose a safety risk. Pruning can also help keep certain infections in check or prevent them from spreading throughout the tree.
Be careful with pruning, however, as certain types of trees have a higher risk of disease if they are pruned during the summer or late spring. Honey locust can develop stem canker, oaks may develop oak blight, and fireblight may attack shrub cotoneasters, hawthorns, mountain ash, crabapples, and apples. Beetles can also pose a problem, so be careful with pruning.
Certain trees, however, do best when pruned during the early summer months. These include maples, butternuts, ironwood, blue beech, and birches.
Harvest Fruits And Nuts
Depending on the type of tree that you have on your property, part of the tree care for summer will involve harvesting its fruit and/or nuts. This is a delicious part of caring for trees and can prevent fruit from falling off and rotting, thereby attracting bugs or animals. Just some of the fruits and nuts that should be harvested at this time include apples, cherries, citruses, bananas, pears, almonds, pistachios, and chestnuts.
Check On Your Trees
During the summer months, it is particularly important to check on your trees regularly. This lets you know that they are indeed getting enough water and do not have any diseases or infestations. When checking on your trees, pay special attention to younger ones, recently transplanted greenery, and trees close to pavement. The last of these will be exposed to more heat while the other two are simply more vulnerable.
When it comes to trees dying instead of surviving and thriving, the reasons can vary depending on the tree, its immediate environment and any recent changes that have happened. For younger trees the answer can be more varied where with aged trees, dying happens for a handful of reasons such as damage or soil changes. Consider the following information on tree failure.
Products Introduced To The Trees Environment
It is especially true that younger tress can easily stop thriving and even die from being introduced to a new product. Spraying your yard with pesticides or herbicides can quickly cause a problem. You may think you are safe because you didn’t spray the tree but these products can easily be carried on the wind quite a distance and then harm your tree. Often symptoms appear as bleached out leaves or leaves that curl up at the tip. Mature trees generally will survive a scalding like this but younger trees may not be so lucky.
Maybe you haven’t used anything new, but the tree is near a road. If heavy traffic is very close to your tree and it’s not thriving, you may want to consider this as a contributing problem. If you think this may be a reason your tree isn’t looking as healthy as it should one solution is moving the tree. Contacting a certified arborist will help you find other solutions as well.
Poor Location Choice For Tree Planting
Another common reason a young tree will fail to thrive is if it is planted in the wrong spot. This can leave the tree lacking nutrients, proper root space or proper lighting and therefore it will never grow like it is meant to. Some things to consider is if the soil is wet or dry, if it’s a sunny or shady spot and if there is good circulation. When planted in the wrong spot a tree may die very slowly. Some symptoms you may notice include dead leaves if the soil is dry, mildewed leaves if there isn’t enough sun or wilting leaves if the soil is too wet.
Root Rot can hit mature trees as well as the younger trees. This problem generally arises when a tree’s roots come into contact with too much water. Tree roots generally do best with well-drained, moist soil. Trees that sit in too much moisture will die from not having oxygen. Root rot symptoms show as a loss of leaves and dieback of limbs. This can happen because a tree is planted in a less than ideal location, because of seasonal flooding or from other unplanned water surplus.
Soil Problems Where The Tree Is Planted
This is another problem that befalls younger trees more quickly but it can also cause harm to your mature specimens as well. It’s important to get a soil analysis regularly. It is done for free at county extension offices and will tell you what deficiencies your soil has. The test will also tell you if the soil is low or high in pH and what the salt level is. Having this kind of information will allow you to add to the soil to provide enrichment. If your tree is over fertilized, you may see wilting and leaf loss. If it is undernourished, then you may notice chlorosis in the leaves. With a simple soil test you can make adjustments here and therefore save your tree.
It’s not just about what’s in the soil, either. It is also about how much soil there is. One reason a large, older tree starts to fail is because of soil build up. When areas around a tree get filled up with heavy soil there may not be enough air getting to the roots of the tree. This will make the health of the tree begin to decline. You may notice wilting leaves, leaf loss and dieback.
Pests and Insects
Another major concern for both young trees and mature ones are pests. If you have heavy traffic from deer, beavers, and other wildlife you may see your bark being nibbled or rubbed off of the tree. There are also a host of insects that will attack your trees and feed off of the bark. If you suspect, you are having issues with insects or wildlife attacking your trees your best choice is likely to speak with a certified arborist to make adjustments. Some measurements can be taken to insure your trees aren’t eaten off of and to treat for any insects that may be infesting your trees.
Damage To Tree Left Uncared For
With any size tree damage can happen. This can come in the form of high winds ripping branches down, animals chewing off bark or limbs, and heavy fruit harvests braking branches down. When small cracks in branches are left untended a larger portion of the branch will suffer and fail. This can add up to an unhealthy tree, which over time can lead to the death of the tree. If your tree is damaged by weather or by heavy production it may be best to consult a professional arborist for the best treatment. This should be done quickly as the longer the damage is left untreated, the greater the damage to the tree overall.
Most older trees can get hit by disease and won’t die. If the disease is left unchecked for a season or two this won’t always prove the case. One of the reasons that trees don’t thrive is because disease isn’t always easy to spot for the untrained eye. A regular consultation with an arborist can help spot disease early and help spot areas that need pruning.
What Can I Do?
One of the best things you can do if you suspect your tree isn’t as healthy as it should be, is to contact a certified arborist. These professionals will come out and evaluate your tree, let you know what’s going on and propose a treatment plan. You may find that repairing the tree is very simple or perhaps the tree is beyond saving and it is time to consider a fresh planting.
Trees are such an essential part of our landscape. They not only beautify our world, but nourish us as well. They provide oxygen, fruits, and nuts, shade, and shelter for birds and small critters. So it behooves us to take the best care of them possible. This is especially true when trees are in a construction zone, whether it is new construction or a remodel job. Great care must be taken when a construction crew is working around trees. Particularly sensitive is the Critical Root Zone (CRZ) of the trees.
In many cities there are regulations in place to ensure the safety of trees within the construction zone. Sometimes a tree must be removed from a construction site, but generally it’s best to work around them. If a tree is already diseased or dying, this is a good time to remove it. Occasionally a tree can be removed and relocated to a more appropriate site.
What Is The CRZ?
Just what is the Critical Root Zone anyway? And why is it so important? How is it determined? The CRZ contains most of the tree’s roots that are vital to its health and survival. If the construction invades too far into the CRZ, the integrity of the tree may be at risk and the tree may become a hazard. If 30 percent of the tree’s CRZ is impacted, it could be deemed beyond probable recovery.
Before beginning any construction on a site that has trees, first locate the tree(s) and determine where the roots lie in relation to the building footprint. Between 90 and 95 percent of the tree’s root system lies within the top three feet of soil, with more than half of it being in the top one foot. Care must be taken to not damage them.
To determine where the CRZ is, measure the tree’s diameter at a height of four and one-half feet above the ground. Convert the measurement to inches and allow one to one and one-half feet of critical root radius for every inch of the tree’s diameter. Example: the tree’s diameter is 10 inches; therefore its critical root radius is 10–15 feet. Another calculation is to take the measurement in inches of the tree’s diameter and multiply it by 18. This will give you the radius of the Critical Root Zone. This is the minimum area to protect; a larger area is even better.
All CRZs must be so noted on the project plans so that review personnel can determine the impact construction will have on the trees. The tree type and size must also be noted. Any tree that must necessarily be removed will need to be replaced at some point.
Use construction fencing to enclose the tree and its CRZ before beginning any construction work at the site, including the moving in of materials and equipment. This precaution will protect the trees and save the construction boss problems later on. This fencing must remain in place until the construction is completed.
A tree in a construction zone will benefit from the CRZ being covered in a good organic mulch. This will go a long way to insulate the soil from the changes that will be taking place.
Construction crews may not perform any of the following within the CRZ:
- Equipment parking
- Spilling of any fuels, chemicals, or any other toxic or harmful substances
- Grade alterations
- Storage of any materials, debris, or fill
- Washing of anything that contained concrete or cement
Place signs designating the area as a protected tree area approximately every 20 feet all around the protective fencing.
Some municipalities require the construction company to hire a Project Arborist to oversee the protection, alteration, or removal of trees on the site. If there are limbs that are potentially in the way, the PA must determine if they can be protected or if they will need to be removed. The PA is responsible for all limb removal.
The same is true for the tree’s roots. If there are roots that significantly interfere with the proposed construction, the PA will be the one to determine whether or not the root(s) can be safely cut back out of the way, or not.
The root must be cut with a sharp saw to ensure a clean, even cut. The remaining exposed root must be properly cared for by covering it with wet burlap or loam. Any roots that are left exposed must also be cared for by covering them with wet burlap, backfill, or mulch. The affected tree must be monitored carefully and watered weekly to ensure their health and preservation. Your municipality will have guidelines for you to follow in all these aspects. There are more guidelines for digging or tunneling to install utilities.
In some urban areas it is not possible to fence off a tree’s entire CRZ due to lack of space. In a case like that it is important to work with the PA to minimize the impact on the tree and work to preserve it if at all possible. Trees, especially young, healthy trees, may overcome construction stress and damage if they are taken care of properly both during and after construction.
It is a good idea to place a copy of your city’s preservation policy on the project site for continual reference. Initially it should be read, discussed, and understood at your construction crew’s meetings. Any damage or injury to any tree on the construction site should be reported to the Project Arborist immediately so that the PA can take steps to preserve the injured tree. Often, trees on a construction site will be monitored for several years after the construction is complete to evaluate the tree’s health.
Trees and construction equipment and crews can survive one another with some carefully planning and forethought. If the tree is treated as a valuable resource, then caring for it responsibly during the construction process will be considered an honorable duty rather than a nuisance. When the construction project is complete and the trees add to the aesthetic beauty of the property, it will be seen as an inconvenience well worth the extra effort.
Trees are a very important part of our landscape, whether it be our own home property, or in public places—parks, along our streets, cemeteries, or any public grounds. Trees provide us with shade, oxygen, shelter for birds and small animals. Some trees provide fruit or nuts, some adorn themselves with beautiful blossoms in the springtime. When a person is in a position to purchase a new tree to plant, consideration should be taken as to what type of tree is desired, and what type of tree is best suited to the place it will be planted.
Choosing A General Species
If you desire a quality tree, one that will last throughout your lifetime, it’s best to choose a tree with a medium or slower rate of growth. A tree that grows fast usually produces weak wood. This makes the tree somewhat more unsafe than its slower growing counterpart, and it will have a shorter life.
Choosing A Specific Type
There are quite a number of shade trees that seem to be best suited for the Austin, Texas, area. Included in this selection are some that are flowering trees, which add beauty to any landscaping location. Many of the trees listed here are chosen for their rate of growth and their toughness, as well as their attractiveness. Some of the trees are oaks, elms, and ash trees. Take a look at some of the trees recommended for the Austin area and consider each one’s characteristics. Then you’ll be better able to make an informed choice as to the tree that you would like for your place.
Oak Trees Make The Best Shade Tree
Many oak trees grow to be quite large trees, so it is essential to plant an oak tree well away from your house, garage, or other building. The Monterey Oak grows 30–40 feet tall and spreads up to 40 feet. Also known as a Mexican white oak, it needs to be planted in deep soil where it will get plenty of sun.
Other oak varieties that are suitable for the Austin area are the Bur Oak, Live Oak, Shumard Oak, and the Lacey Oak. The Bur Oak is a huge tree with a maximum height of 70+ feet. It adapts well to the Austin soil, is somewhat drought tolerant, attracts butterflies, and is deer-resistant.
The native Texas Red Oak is a stately tree with a rounded canopy and grows to a height of 35 to 45 feet. So named because of its flaming red autumn leaves, it makes a fine shade tree for a large yard.
Oak trees are susceptible to a devastating and deadly disease called Oak Wilt. White oaks To avoid this disease, don’t prune your oak tree between the months of February and June.
The Lacebark Elm, while not a Texas native, still grows well here, is disease-resistant and grows more than 40 feet high. The leaves turn beautifully chartreuse in the fall, and the bark is an interesting peeling bark.
The Cedar Elm grows to heights between 50 and 70 feet, is drought tolerant, and will grow in the shallow rocky soil of the Austin area. This elm’s leaves turn a brilliant buttery yellow in the fall, adding to the beauty of your yard or street.
The only ash tree that’s suitable for Texas grows from 30 to 50 feet tall, needs good drainage, and is relatively long-lived. This tree is not to be confused with the Arizona Ash.
If you’d like to attract hummingbirds to your yard, choose the Desert Willow. With its pink trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom all summer and a modest height of 25 feet, it will thrive in full sun. It won’t need water unless the heat is extreme and drought is experienced.
Eve’s Necklace grows from 15 to 25 feet and produces pink flowers that resemble wisteria. The seed pods will remind you of a section of a necklace, but be careful—they’re poisonous.
The Mexican Plum tree is a small tree with lovely white blossoms in the springtime. An especially beautiful tree, it will enhance any location it is planted. It also produces small, tart plums.
Texas Redbud trees are covered with pretty pink blooms in the spring. With a height of only 15 to 20 feet, they add a splash of spring color to any location.
Both the Carolina Buckthorn and Holly trees produce red berries. The Carolina Buckthorn will grow from 15 to 30 feet tall, while most varieties of holly are much smaller and more of a large bush than a tree. The Yaupon Holly will grow to become a small tree. Check your holly, though, because only the female trees have the red berries. Purchasing one in the fall when the berries are on will ensure you getting a female tree.
For brilliant red color in the fall, choose a Chinese Pistache. This medium-size tree grows to approximately 40 feet and can grow in heavy clay.
The Gum Burnelia produces blossoms in the spring that feed the honey bees, then in the summer its fruit is food for birds and deer. So if you’d like to attract wildlife to your place, this is a tree to choose. It grows to a mature height of from 40 to 50 feet.
Trees are such a vital part of our landscape, whether natural or cultivated, that it is important that we take the very best care of them that we possibly can. They provide us with shade, fruit, nuts, oxygen, support for swings and tree houses, and nesting spots for birds. Water, careful pruning, and some extra nourishment are their main needs that humans can provide.
Nourishment For Your Trees
One of the nourishments that your tree will love is compost tea. Compost is full of rich nutrients that feed the soil, which in turn feeds the trees, grass, and plants in your yard. Distilling a tea from your compost is one way of getting those nutrients directly to the roots of your tree.
The type of compost tea you make will depend on what type of plant or tree on which you wish to use it. Some will require a bacterial-dominated compost, others will prefer a fungal-dominated compost. Trees prefer a fungal/humus dominated compost tea. Both conifer and deciduous trees benefit from the fungal compost tea.
Sources For Purchasing
It is possible to make your own compost tea at home. There are commercial devices available in which to make the tea, or you can create your own. Or you can buy the compost tea ready-made at some nurseries or garden centers. If you choose to make tea at home, all you really need are a couple of buckets, some fresh finished compost, water, and something to strain it with such as burlap or cheesecloth.
There are several reasons compost tea is beneficial. We will examine some of them here.
Replaces Chemical Fertilizers
It is always a good idea to use natural products whenever possible. Making and using organic compost tea will allow you to avoid using chemical fertilizers, fungicides, and pesticides. Compost tea will not harm any living thing that comes in contact with it—pets, wildlife, people—or the soil and ground water. It will only benefit, never destroy. Compost tea will never burn plant or tree roots and leaves.
A major reason to use compost tea is that it will save you many dollars, especially if you make your own with simple, home equipment. You’ll never buy all those liquids, powders, or granules again that really do more harm than good.
Helps Ward Off Tree Diseases
Because you are feeding your tree, and the surrounding soil, with organic nutrients, diseases are discouraged from attacking your trees. When the soil and the tree are both healthy and growing under optimum conditions, the tree itself is better able to resist disease and insect pests.
Provides Valuable Organisms For Trees
Compost tea contains live microbes that are beneficial to the soil and to the immune system of trees. This results in healthier trees that are better equipped to resist stress.
Necessary Nutrients For Trees
Compost tea provides the necessary nutrients that trees need to thrive. Soil becomes depleted over the years, especially in an urban setting. Trees, grass, and plants all compete for the nutrients and water in the soil. If you have a large yard with lots of lawn, flowerbeds, and trees, plus a vegetable garden, maybe some fruit and/or nut trees, berries and grapes, all of those things are taking nutrients from the soil. Sooner or later the soil will be depleted and you will need to feed it. Compost tea nourishes tree roots quickly with its fast-absorbing nutrients.
Greater Tree Growth
Because your tree is being fed all of the nutrients and minerals it requires, it will grow and flourish as never before. If it is a fruit tree, the fruit will be plentiful, rich and delicious.
Use It Quickly
Compost tea is alive. The oxygen level decreases as the tea ages, also depleting the active aerobic organisms that are important to the trees. After you have made your compost tea, it is best to use it right away. Use it at least within 72 hours. You can refrigerate compost tea for up to 30 days. Before using, smell the tea. If it smells foul, it has probably lost its oxygen. Throw it out. It isn’t good anymore. If it is good, let it return to room temperature before using.
When to Use
Apply monthly, or at regular intervals, for the best results. Apply in late winter or early spring both before leaf buds form, and when they break, but aren’t open yet. At the first sign of insect infestation or the onset of disease, apply the compost tea around the base of the tree. Use every couple of weeks until the problem has disappeared.
Early morning or near dusk when the soil is moist is the best time of day to apply your compost tea. This is when the beneficial organisms in the tea will make the best contact with the soil and remain active. A misty morning after a nice rain is an excellent time to apply the tea. But don’t do it during or right before a rain.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays can kill the microbes, so don’t apply the compost tea after 10:00 am or before 6:00 pm, even on cloudy days.
How Much To Use
Use compost tea at full strength for best results. You generally can’t use too much tea. The more you use, the more the beneficial and diverse microbes will multiply. If you choose to dilute the compost tea, it is possible to dilute up to 16:1.
The basic components used to make a rich compost include dry straw, alfalfa, and manure. These components are used in different percentages depending on whether you want a bacterial compost, a fungal compost, or a balanced compost. Other additives can include liquid kelp, blackstrap molasses, cane sugar, yucca extract, fruit pulp, rock dust, humic acids, and ground oatmeal.
If you need the help of a professional arborist in determining the type of compost tea to use for your particular trees, please give us a call.
It is important to take good care of trees, including fertilization, because they provide shade, oxygen, beauty, and depending on the variety, fruits and nuts as well. The recommended method of tree fertilization is deep root fertilization. This involves using some method to penetrate the soil to a depth of around three to four inches, and not more than eight inches (or deeper, depending on the type of tree) in order to feed fertilizer down to the root level. The small feeder roots lie near the surface of the ground. A well-fertilized tree will live longer and be able to better withstand disease and insect invasion. It will also be more beautiful in appearance.
Tree Fertilizer Components
Like all living things, trees need many nutrients to thrive. Some of these are nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and potassium, and others. A soil test kit will help you determine which, if any, nutrients your soil is lacking. Then you can fertilize accordingly. If your trees are planted in the lawn, the fibrous grass roots are competing with the tree roots for nutrients from the soil. In this case, deep root fertilization would be indicated.
Ideally, the type of fertilizer purchased will be a versatile one that will allow some of the nutrients to release quickly, but others to release more slowly so as to be absorbed by the tree roots as they are needed.
The Need To Fertilize Trees
Trees that grow in town or in residential areas are often highly stressed due to lack of moisture, damage sustained, disease, insect invasion, soil compaction, nearby construction, or competition from grass and/or other vegetation growing close by. Even poor air quality in large cities can affect the tree’s health. Newly planted trees should be fertilized, and then fertilized again every 3–5 years. A soil test kit is available from your county Extension office and will tell you what nutrients the soil needs in which your tree is planted.
Trees growing in urban areas often are not able to draw the necessary nutrients from the soil because there is too much competition from other grass, trees, and vegetation. A tree should be fertilized right after being trimmed to speed the process of the cut places healing over.
Another reason trees growing in yards, parks, or urban areas need to be fertilized is that in our quest for the perfect yard, we rake the fallen leaves in the autumn and dispose of them. But if they were left on the ground to decompose naturally, they would provide all the necessary nutrients that trees need.
Visible Signs Tree Needs Fertilization
Without using a test kit, there are other ways to determine whether or not your trees need to be fertilized. Check the new shoots growing on the tree. If they grow six inches or more in a year, that tree probably doesn’t need fertilizing. If the growth is between two and six inches, some fertilization is indicated. Growth of less than two inches will make fertilization mandatory for optimum tree health. Foliage color is another indicator of whether or not the tree needs to be fertilized. Yellow or “off-color” leaves may indicate a lack of nutrients in the soil. This test probably won’t apply in the autumn when leaves are changing color anyway.
A third thing to consider is where the tree is planted. If it is in a lawn that gets regular fertilization, the tree is probably all right, too, unless a soil test indicates otherwise. One other sign of lack of fertilizer is the tree leaves becoming smaller and smaller each year. This indicates that the tree is literally starved for nutrients. Tree diseases, insects, and dying or broken limbs are other indicators that the tree is seriously lacking in nutrients.
Time Of Year
Trees should be fertilized either in the spring, preferably in March or April, or in the fall, in October or November. Fertilizing in the fall allows the soil to soak up the nutrients and be ready to be absorbed when the roots awaken in the spring. Roots continue growing and feeding long after the leaves have fallen, even into the winter months, as late as December. They awaken and begin the cycle again as early as April.
Fertilizing Methods For Trees
Merely scattering the fertilizer on the ground around the tree won’t do. The fertilizer will burn the grass and leave brown spots in some cases. It is necessary to inject the fertilizer below the surface, down close to the roots, so as to help the tree without harming the grass. Often a small-diameter tube with an injector needle is used to accomplish this process. A shovel can also be used by the do-it-yourselfer. Just insert the shovel to the desired depth and push it forward far enough to open the soil and put in the fertilizer.
However, a professional arborist will use special equipment that includes a tank containing the fertilizer, a hose, and an injector that is capable of injecting the fertilizer to the required depth. This not only applies the fertilizer to the tree roots, it also aerates the soil to allow much-needed oxygen in where the roots are.
The area to be fertilized should be both just inside and just outside of the canopy circle, known as the drip line. The arborist will make several injections around the canopy circle, to ensure that the fertilizer gets to all the root areas.
Forest Trees vs. Landscape Trees
A person might think that trees don’t need to be fertilized, based on what one sees out in the country or in the woods. No one goes out into the woods with fertilizer, so how do those trees stay healthy? They receive their nutrients from the fallen leaves and decaying plant matter that cover the ground. In town or in our yards, we clean up the fallen leaves and other plant debris, and thereby deprive the tree of its natural fertilizer.
If you need the services of a certified arborist to come and deep root fertilize your trees, just give us a call.
Uprooted Trees in Austin Follow the Recent Excess Rainfall
For Austin residents, landscaping typically involves selecting plants and trees that require minimal water since the area is so dry. As such, rain is usually a welcome event, giving plants some much-needed water without having to worry about irrigation or water restrictions. Excessive rainfall, however, like that seen in the last few months in Austin and other Texas cities, can cause its own problems. The rain can weaken the roots of the trees or even push them down via flooding. That is why so many Austin trees have been uprooted following the recent rain storms. Home and property owners can take steps to minimize their risk or make sure their trees didn’t suffer unknown damage during the last rainfall.
Recent Wet Weather in Texas
During the month of May, Texas made national and international headlines with its massive rainfalls and the accompanying storms. In fact, May 2015 saw the highest average rainfall for the state on record, 8.81 inches. This month became the wettest May in the record books and the third wettest month for Austin, with 17.59 inches. Records were also set at Austin Bergstrom International Airport where there were 13.44 inches of rain. All this rain meant that Texas residents have officially seen what happens at either end of the spectrum: if trees don’t get enough water and if they get too much.
How Storms Damage Trees
There are numerous ways that storms damage trees, including wind, rain, and lightning. Some trees will be damaged or even completely uprooted due to tornados or high winds. Others will be struck by lightning and yet others will be pushed over by fast-moving floodwaters in areas without sufficient drainage. All of these things happened throughout Texas in May, making it difficult for experts to determine a breakdown of how many trees were uprooted by each cause.
If you take a look at various areas in Austin, it quickly becomes clear that some trees withstood the same conditions that brought others to the ground. This is partially due to a concept known as windthrow, which means that the tree trunk acts like a lever so trees with taller trunks will notice more pressure on their roots, making them more prone to falling over.
It is also possible that a tree will have pre-existing wood decay, cracks, or other issues that make it more likely to experience damage or simply weaken a portion of the tree. Generally speaking, trees have a higher risk of being damaged by storms when they are larger in size and planted in either shallow soil or an area that is rocky in nature. Those with more leaves and branches near the top of the trunk than the bottom are also more prone to being uprooted due to their high center of gravity and the branches weighing down the top portion.
Excess Rain’s Effects on Trees
There are actually plenty of different ways that the wet weather in Austin has had a negative impact on trees. Many fungi prefer moist and damp environments, meaning that when the tree and/or soil become wet, they will grow in numbers, increasing the damage they cause. As mentioned earlier, if there is enough rain to flood the area, such as occurred in parts of Austin, the water may exert more force than the trees can handle. This leads to trees being knocked over by the water or even swept up in the flow. Other objects in flowing floodwaters can also crash into trees, damaging or uprooting them. Trees may also be weakened by water that saturates the soil too completely, as this can prevent them from receiving oxygen through their roots and may even cause die-back.
Ways Heavy Rain Can Uproot Your Trees
Although the floodwaters are the easiest cause of uprooted trees for most people to understand, they are not the only cause related to heavy rainfall; the soil also plays a key role. No arborist will give you a minimum amount of rain needed to uproot a tree. Instead, they will tell you that it depends on the soil in the area and the tree’s overall health, particularly that of its roots. Because Austin does not typically experience heavy rainfalls, the city and surrounding area don’t have the most efficient drainage system in place. This means that a small amount of rain has a large impact on trees in Austin than it would in an area of the country with better drainage. This occurs as the water accumulates in the soil, leading to roots getting damp and the soil texture and size changing.
Keep in mind that the roots of a tree need to meet very specific standards in order to create a solid base that isn’t likely to be knocked over. Roots that are planted too deep may get stem-girdled and begin to grow upwards where they weaken and compress by wrapping around the base of the tree. Shallow roots, on the other hand, can reduce the tree’s ability to stay firmly within the soil. This leaves trees with roots that are too deep or too shallow prone to uprooting in inclement weather.
Whether a tree’s roots are at the ideal depth, wet soil will always make small changes in the texture and shape of the soil, leaving the roots open to increased mobility. When the soil becomes too wet, this mobility may increase even more, leading to the tree falling over or being uprooted.
Cleaning Up the Damage
If trees on your property become damaged due to heavy rain in Austin, or any other cause, you should consult an arborist for advice on how to clean up this damage. In some cases, it may even be possible to replant an uprooted tree, but for this to work, it will have had to suffer minimal damage and the roots must be intact. Otherwise, the arborist or a tree service company can help you remove any remnants of the fallen tree.
Risk Assessment of Your Trees
Not all damage to trees due to wet weather will occur immediately and this means that if you are in a part of Austin that was hit heavily by storms, you should have an arborist make sure your trees are not at risk. They will evaluate factors such as the lean of the tree, infestations, possible decay, and cracks.
The average person has probably only heard of the basic landscaping methods of caring for trees, such as pruning or fertilizing. In some cases, however, root flare excavation can be just as important, if not more so than these actions. Whether or not you are familiar with it, being aware can make the difference between having healthy trees on your property and have poorly nourished ones which are dying.
What Is The Root Flare?
Before getting into root flare excavation, you need to understand what the term root flare refers to . This is the bottom area of the tree, typically right above the ground, that flares out1. It is this part of the tree where root tissue becomes stem tissue and the bark is formed. While root tissue is known as rhizomonas, root flares are different. In fact, root flare should be in contact with the atmosphere to function properly.
Why Should The Root Flare Be Exposed?
For a tree’s root flare to work and grow as it should, it needs to be exposed so it can come in contact with the atmosphere. This means that you should never cover it with mulch, fills, or soil as it restricts the tree’s access to the air. This weakens the tree in general and also makes it more susceptible to additional stresses such as insect infestations or disease. Part of the issue is that the trunk of the tree needs to be able to breathe properly and when it can’t, the bark will stay moist, which should not be the case2. As such, the tree may develop poor shoot elongation, defoliation, branch die back, or diminished yields.
Essentially, anytime the root flare is covered, whether by soil, mulch, or something else, it hides the roots, making it impossible to tell if they are girdling or circling. In either case, these roots will “choke” the tree, slowing down growth significantly. It is actually sometimes even more likely for trees with buried root flares to experience the issue as the roots will do whatever they can to reach the water and nutrients they need for growth3. This can become an issue whether the root flare is covered because of planting the tree too deeply, confining it within a planter or container which is too small, or is covered with mulch to prevent weeds.
You may be wondering why the root flare or root collar of your trees needs to be exposed when not all of those in the natural world, such as in forests, are4. Keep in mind that the trees on your property are exposed to more water than those in the forest, thanks to people’s tendency to over-water their plants. This leads to an increase in moisture along the root flare, increasing the risk of decay. In addition, if you asked an arborist to evaluate the trees with buried root collars in the forest, they would most likely say that those trees are not as healthy and will not grow as well. Even comparing trees in the forest with buried root flares with those who have the flare exposed will show you a significant difference in health.
How To Tell If Your Tree Needs Air Spading
The best way to tell if your tree needs root flare excavation is to have an expert come and take a look. You can do a simple visual test yourself to get an idea, and then hire an arborist if you are still unsure. If the entire area of your tree that sits above the ground is straight, resembling a telephone pole, then the tree flare is underground and needs to be excavated. If, however, the tree is straight until a few inches to feet above the ground, at which point it starts flaring out so the widest part is in contact with the grass or soil, it should not need to be excavated.
To prevent any issues with the root flare, take extra care when planting or transplanting any trees. Have an arborist do the job for you if you aren’t confident. Otherwise, ensure that you don’t dig the hole too deep. Remember that young trees are more likely to die because of being planted too deeply than other issues.
Is DIY Root Crown Excavation Possible?
Technically, it is possible to do a root flare excavation yourself, but most arborists would not recommend it. You may think that you will save money by doing this job yourself, but you can easily injure or kill the tree. That is because root excavation is a very delicate process; the roots of the tree are essential for providing it with nutrients. This is more challenging because the bark underneath the ground will be moist, making it even more fragile.
If you do attempt to do a root collar excavation yourself, be sure to wear gloves and rely on hand tools instead of electric ones. Don’t use water unless it is in a very soft and flowing stream as any stronger blasts may cause severe damage to the soft, fragile bark found at the tree’s base.
Uncovering The Root Collar
During root excavation, an arborist will work carefully to remove the soil covering the tree’s root collar. They will also remove any other objects, such as wires, that get in the way of the roots and root flare. The arborist will work either alone or with a team of experts to expose the root collar. Then, they will remove the small roots that are trying to grow up and reach the air, leaving the depression from the exposure open. This open area will gradually fill in as the flare keeps expanding as the tree gets healthier. The arborist may add shredded cedar mulch in a thin layer on top of this depression, but they will not add more than this.
The majority of arborists will use a tool called the air spade to excavate the root flare. This tool is similar to a sandblaster, but without the sand and it blows air at high velocities. This process allows it to remove the soil while preventing damage to the tree itself, including the smallest roots.
Any property owner will need a tree consultation at some point, and this is true whether you own your own home or a business. Tree consultations are an essential step for ensuring the health of the trees on your property. Whether you would like to prevent future problems or notice a tree is looking under the weather, a professional tree consultation can assist you.
Importance of Tree Consultations
At times it may simply seem like an extra cost, but in reality, tree consultations are important. If you notice anything unusual about a tree on your property, a consultation with an arborist or other certified tree professional can help you diagnose and manage the problem. Consultations are also helpful when planning your landscape as they can let you know what trees will thrive on your property and which ones you should avoid planting in your yard. A tree consultation can even help you set up a proper irrigation system for your trees and garden.
Who Does Consultations?
Although it can vary, the typical person who offers a tree consultation will either be an arborist or a certified tree consultant. Certified tree consultants are only found in certain areas, so you will want to find an arborist who offers tree consultations. Arborists are certified professionals who have received training and gained experience in every aspect of trees, including planting, maintenance, and care. This knowledge helps them evaluate situations in a way someone without their training would be unable to do, making them the perfect choice for a consultation.
Selecting Your Tree Consultant
When you are looking for a tree consultant, you will want to consider multiple factors. Opt for someone with a certification of some sort (such as a certified arborist) if possible. If that is not possible, simply ensure that they have received adequate training and have plenty of experience. You should also see if they offer a free consultation, as most companies will also at least one tree consultation for free. Finally, consider whether the arborist simply offers consultations or if they will also provide the necessary services (such as caring for a sick tree). Always opt for one who will either perform these services themselves or works with someone who does so you only have to hire one company for all your tree needs.
When Do You Need Consultations on Trees?
In reality, you can hire someone to do a tree consultation whenever you want. There are, however, some situations where a consultation is more necessary than others. Other than the following situations, you can also hire a consultant just to make sure that all of the trees on your property are healthy.
Injured or Sick Trees
One of the most common times to ask for a tree consultation is when a tree is sick or injured. Instead of simply trying to guess what the problem is and take care of it yourself, hiring a professional to evaluate the situation will allow you to discover the problem and whether there is a solution. Usually the consultant will tell you that the problem is related to a disease or insect, although it can also be due to improper irrigation, too much mulch, or the tree being dug too deep.
Removing or Trimming Trees
If you are considering trimming back a tree so it takes up less room on your property or completely removing it, you would do a tree consultation first. An expert will be able to tell you how to trim back the tree so it fits within your desired size range, but remains healthy. They can also help you determine the best way of completely removing a tree if necessary. In many cases, the consultant will be part of a company that can complete the removal or trimming for you after the evaluation.
Planning a Landscape
As soon as you decide to redo your landscape, you will want to plan a tree consultation with a certified arborist. They will be able to work with you to decide whether your landscaping plans are possible and make necessary suggestions. They can help you select which trees to plan in a given area based on which types thrive with the given soil conditions and climate. It is actually wise to have several tree consultations throughout the process of upgrading your landscape as the consultation is the perfect way to ensure you stay on track. This is essential for keeping the trees and other plants on your property healthy.
Even if your planned remodels don’t involve your landscape, it is important to have a tree consultation beforehand. Let the arborist know exactly what will be done on your home, whether it is digging a basement, building an addition, updating the siding, or something else. They will tell you how to protect vulnerable trees during this construction project and can even set up the necessary protections so you don’t have to worry.
Assessing Tree Risks
Tree consultations are also the easiest way to assess whether you trees pose a risk to you, your family, or your property. Keep in mind that even healthy trees may be damaged or damage your property during severe thunderstorms, winds, or other challenging weather conditions. That being said, a consultation is the simplest way to minimize the risk of a tree falling and causing damage or injury in normal weather. The consultant will evaluate the health of the tree, including its roots and branches. If any adjustments need to be made to make the tree safer, they will let you know exactly what must be done.
Following Given Advice
Scheduling a tree consultation is always a good idea as a home owner, particularly in any of the situations mentioned above. That being said, the consultation is useless unless you follow the advice given to you by the tree expert. Most arborists will work as part of a team that is able to provide various tree services. This means that if an arborist suggests you trim a specific part of your tree due to disease or safety risks, they will most likely work with someone who can do the task for you. This is the best way of ensuring the arborist’s advice is followed as they can directly tell the worker or may even do the job themselves.