When trees die, it’s a sad thing. We love our Central Texas trees here at Austin Tree Service. We know you do too. In this article, we’re going to focus on 9 reasons trees die in Central Texas. We think that with a little bit of knowledge, you can prevent some trees from dying so soon.
- A tree dies because it’s not adapted to the Central Texas heat. A native or adapted tree will know how to survive the Texas heat. We have long, hot summers, occasional cold winters and alkaline soil in this region. If, for some reason, you have a tree that was grown in another part of the country and you transplant it here, it may not thrive or even survive. Non-adapted trees have very short life spans, problems with insects and leaf drop. It’s best to use native or adapted trees for your landscape.
- Trees die because the trunk was damaged during transportation/planting. When transporting and planting a tree, you must be careful that you don’t damage its bark. A tree’s vascular system, which is similar to our own arteries and veins, lies just beneath the bark. Young trees have thin bark, which can easily be damaged. If the damage is severe, it can cause a tree to die. Why? The tree will lose its ability to transport water and nutrients from the roots to the stems and leaves. You can avoid bark damage by transporting a tree in a manner that keeps the trunk bark from rubbing or hitting any surfaces in the vehicle and by carrying the tree by the container, not by the trunk.
- Trees can die because the wire used to stake or label it was never removed. When you get a tree, make sure to remove all tags from it. You should keep the tags for your records, especially any with the planting date. You should never stake a tree unless it’s absolutely necessary. Most trees don’t require staking. The only time a tree may need to be staked is if it’s located in a really windy area. If you must stake a tree, cover the staking wire that comes into contact with the trunk or limbs with pieces of garden hose or a material similar to that. This way the wire won’t cut into the tree. You should remove the staking materials within 6 months to a year of installing them; otherwise, the tree’s water supply and nutrients can be cut off as it grows and the wire begins to girdle it.
- Trees die when they are planted too deeply. You want to plant a tree so the root ball sits firmly on the bottom of the hole with the top of the root ball even with the surrounding soil or slightly higher than it. You should never plant a tree too deep. It can suffocate the tree. When planting a tree, dig the hole to the same depth as the root ball. Then, you want to dig the width of the hole to at least twice the width of the root place. After you place the tree in the hole, you’ll fill the void with the original soil that has rocks and debris removed from it. You should water thoroughly to settle the tree and the soil. Finally, it’s a good idea to cover the exposed earth with up to 8 inches of bark mulch that goes up to but does not touch the trunk. Of course, if you want to avoid any issues with tree planting, we, at Austin Tree, can plant a tree for you. We can take care of all the work and you just need to maintain and enjoy your tree.
- Trees can die if they’re not healthy when you purchase them. When buying a tree, make sure you select a healthy one. Look over the tree thoroughly for any splits in the bark, broken branches, insects and healthy white roots. If you can inspect the roots thoroughly before buying the tree, do so and make sure there are no encircling roots. If you do happen to buy a tree with encircling roots, you can spread them before planting or even cut through them. New roots will usually grow where you cut the circling roots. If you do nothing about circling roots, these can eventually strangle the poor tree causing it to lose water and nutrients.
- Trees hit with a string trimmer or lawnmower can die. When a tree gets hit by these tools, it usually loses part of its vascular system. If the tree gets hit too often, it will die. To avoid this problem, try to keep a thick layer of bark mulch around the tree. It will cut down on evaporation of water from the root zone, moderate the soil temp, help control weeds and keeps the trimmer and mower away from the trunk.
- Trees die when their roots dry over before they’re planted. Prior to planting your trees, you need to make sure that you keep them watered. Many trees have become dried over while waiting for the proper planting time. Place the tree in the landscape where you want to plant it to help it acclimate to the light and wind. During the heat of summer, most container trees need to be watered daily. To avoid this problem altogether, you can wait and buy a tree when you’re absolutely ready to plant it.
- Trees can die when the leaves get dehydrated while driving down a highway. If you are transporting a tree, don’t do it in the back of a truck, sticking out a car window or a car trunk without giving the tree some cover. You can use a bed sheet or something similar. It doesn’t have to be fancy. If you don’t cover the tree, the wind will dehydrate the leaves and the small limbs. As a result, the tree will drop those leaves later and you’ll have all sorts of problems with it.
- Trees die when you over or under water them within the first 18 months of having them. Lack of water kills more trees than anything else in Central Texas. You must remember that it takes about 18 months for the tree’s root system to become firmly established. When that happens, it will help the tree thrive and survive Central Texas’ hot summers. During its ‘infancy’, you should check the soil weekly to guide your watering schedule. Stick to it to keep your tree healthy.
Of course, there are other reasons that trees die in Central Texas. These are among the most common. If you have any question on a tree’s health at any time, please contact us. Our certified arborist will be happy to come and take a look. We want your trees to thrive just like you do. Our phone number is 512-341-8888.