What to Consider When Hiring a Tree Service

Most people hire a tree service if their tree looks sick, needs to be removed, requires trimming or if they want to plant a new one. Sometimes, they have to hire a tree service on an emergency basis to clean up after a storm hits. Hiring a tree service can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a few things you need to consider when hiring a tree service. In this blog post, we’ll look at those.

Why do you need to hire a tree service?

Well, working with trees takes time, certain equipment and the experience to avoid injuring people or property. Professional tree services like Austin Tree Service, Inc. are safe and experienced. We have the tools and know how to take care of your trees.

What questions should you ask before hiring a tree service?

There are a lot of different questions you can ask before hiring a tree service. Which ones you ask are up to you and may be related to the job that you want done. We, at Austin Tree Service, are always happy to answer your questions. We will provide you with some examples of questions we get all the time.

  • How long have you been in business? No one wants an inexperienced company causing ruckus on their property. Austin Tree Service has been around for over a decade. Many experts want you to choose a tree care company that’s been around for at least ten years because that means they’re established and know how to do business well. We feel that describes us.
  • Do you have a certified arborist on staff? Yes, we do. Our arborist has a fair amount of credentials and is a full time staff member. We pride ourselves on our tree knowledge and know that you can trust us with your trees.
  • How does your tree service minimize damage to your yard? We know that protecting things around your tree is an important part of our job. We take special precautions to make sure that nothing gets damaged. We will protect your lawn from damage and take special care to ensure that things go smoothly. We are a professional tree service and know that your belongings are important to you so they’re important to us.
  • What equipment do you have or will you be using? That often depends on the job. We use state of the art equipment. For example, we use cranes when necessary. We have stump grinders. We use safety equipment like harnesses, ladders and helmets. Our trucks are well maintained. We take care of our equipment so it works like new and does the best job for you that it can.
  • Do you have insurance? Yes, of course we do. We follow all state guidelines for insurance. If you work with an uninsured company, you could find yourself in a bit of hot water should something go wrong. You don’t want to be liable for any damages to your property should they occur. We are happy to discuss this with you during your initial visit or phone call.
  • Do you have licensures and credentials? We definitely do. We are a member of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). We have won the Angie’s List Super Service Award for many years running and maintain an active presence with our local Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Do you have reviews or referrals? Austin Tree Service has referrals we can provide you with. We also have reviews on Angie’s List and Facebook. You can view them at your leisure.

Feel free to ask us any questions you may have before hiring us as your tree service company. We will happily answer your inquiries. We want you to feel safe and secure with us. We know we provide great service and are happy to share whatever information we can with you. Call us at 512-341-8888 today.



Famous Trees of Texas – Cart War Oak

You may know that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which was signed in the year 1848, officially ended Texas’ war with Mexico. Did you know that isolated incidents of bitter racism took place between Mexicans and Texans for years afterwards? It may not be surprising, but it’s definitely a part of our history we may prefer to forget.

However, there is one notable example of this animosity. It erupted into open strife near Goliad in 1857. Texan teamsters, who had been hauling freight from the port at Indianola to San Antonio and other interior towns, became increasingly bitter toward competing Mexican cartmen. Why? Well, the main reason was that the Mexicans were charging significantly less for their services and driving the Texans out of business.

The Texas began to attack the Mexican cartmen as they passed through Goliad with their loaded wagons. In a brief series of attacks, about 80 Mexicans were murdered. Their carts were destroyed and their freight was stolen. The authorities in Goliad seemed indifferent to the attacks. The Mexican cartmen began to use a different route, one which passed by Goliad about twelve miles to the east. Deprived of an easy source of income and an increasing apathy of the local citizenry, the ‘cart-cutters’ began robbing them.

This disgraceful situation was then brought to the attention of the Legislature. The outraged citizens and “Judge Lynch” ended the careers of the cart-cutters. Those guilty of these crimes were brought to trial in a speedy manner.

A giant live oak was the site of the court sessions. Its huge, horizontal limbs served as a ready-made gallows for the swift conduct of capital sentences passed out by the court. A number of the cart-cutters cursed and prayed on the oak as their lives ended at the end of the hangman’s knotted rope.

Now that it’s no longer used as a hanging tree, the Cart War Oak provides residents and visitors a spot of shade in which they can reminisce with friends. It’s located on the north side of the Goliad County Courthouse. For more information on famous trees of Texas, please visit our blog archives. If you have a tree, famous or otherwise, that needs attention, don’t forget to contact us at 512-341-8888. We look forward to working with your Texas trees.

What to Expect from a Tree Inspection – Advanced Assessment

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been dealing with tree inspections. There are three different types. So far, we’ve gone over a limited visual assessment and a basic assessment. Now, we’ll talk about the advanced assessment. Advanced assessment tree inspections are performed to provide detailed information about specific tree parts, defects, targets or site inspections. They are usually conducted in conjunction with or after a basic assessment if the tree risk assessor needs additional information and the client approves of the additional service.  Specialized equipment, data collection and analysis and expertise are usually required for a tree risk assessor to perform an advanced assessment. These assessments are generally more time intensive and more expensive.

The procedures and methodologies the tree risk assessor chooses to use in an advanced assessment should be selected and applied as appropriate with special consideration given to what is reasonable and proportionate to the specific conditions and situations. The risk manager/property owner should consider the value of the tree to the owner and the community, the possible consequences of failure and the time and expense to provide the advanced assessment. Advanced assessments can provide additional information that may make the difference between recommending tree retention or tree removal. The tree risk assessor should identify what additional information they need and recommend the proper technique to be used.

There are many types of advanced assessments that can be conducted, some of which we will describe in this article. Tree risk assessors are cautioned, however, that all technologies involve some uncertainty. Each technology carries its own limitations; therefore, any evaluation of an individual tree or target will not be an accurate measure but a qualified estimation. No matter what method the tree risk assessor uses to inspect the trees, they should employ safe work practices.

Aerial Inspection

An aerial inspection, aka crown inspection, is the inspection of the aboveground parts of a tree that are not visible from a ground-based inspection. This includes the upper trunk and the upper surfaces of stems and branches. Aerial inspection usually includes a visual assessment for defects, conditions and response growth. Conditions of particular importance include inspection of significant branch junctions, cracks in branches, sunscald on the tops of branches and bark damage from bird or animal feeding. In addition, aerial inspections may include an evaluation of internal decay. This type of inspection can be performed from an aerial lift, an adjacent building, ladder, or by climbing the tree. The tree risk assessor should determine if the tree is safe to climb before entering the tree. Visual inspection from the ground is not considered an advance assessment but may be part of the basic assessment.

Assessment of Internal Decay

We know that it’s difficult to estimate or quantify the location and extent of internal wood decay during most basic assessments. When it’s necessary to more accurately determine these factors, the tree risk assessor can use several decay-detecting techniques including drilling and the use of sonic devices. After estimates are made of the amount and location of solid wood present around a column of internal decay, several methods are available to evaluate the significance of the decay. Some methods are based on engineering models of pipe strength and recommended thresholds for minimum solid wall thickness. Modifications for species, locations, amount of decay, dimensions of the tree, additional defects, and site conditions should be made by adapting the thresholds, but there is little guidance for such adaptions.  Other methods adapt mechanical principles for engineering models in order to compare expected wind loads with the estimated load-bearing capacity of the tree.

So, what are these methods?


Two types of drilling tools can be used to evaluate the extent of decay. These are a hand-held electric drill or a resistance-recording drill. Both distinguish between solid wood and decayed wood by the drill’s resistance to penetration as it moves through the wood. It is important to carefully select testing locations so that the size and configuration of the decay column can be estimated. Before testing, sound or visual testing should be done to determine the best location to test. The tree risk assessor should be careful to avoid unnecessary wounding of the tree. The number of drillings should be as few as possible to avoid further damage to the tree.

Sonic Assessment

Sonic wood assessment instruments send a sound wave through the wood and measure the time for the wave to travel from the sending point to the receiving point. If a crack, cavity or decay is present, the sound travels around the defect. This increases the transmission time from the sending to the receiving point as compared to wood with no defects. The device, however, cannot determine the type of defect (decay, cracks, embedded bark or cavities).

Root Assessment

When you perform root assessment, you can do several different things. These are root inspection and evaluation, root decay evaluation, measuring the change of lean and load tests. These are very technical processes that your tree risk assessor will be able to explain to you. Basically, they are checking the roots for defects and use different tools and techniques to discover what the problems are.

We really hope that you’ve enjoyed our series or tree inspections. We want to give you as much information on tree care as we can. If you have questions, we encourage you to contact us at your convenience. We can be reached at 512-341-8888.

What to Expect from a Tree Inspection – Basic Assessment

Last week, we discussed a limited visual assessment tree inspection. We mentioned that there are three levels of tree inspection. This week, we will talk about a basic assessment. What’s a basic assessment? It’s a detailed visual inspection of a tree and its surrounding site. In a basic assessment, you also get synthesis of the information collected.

In a basic assessment, the tree inspector must walk completely around the tree. They have to look at the site, the buttress roots, trunk and branches. A basic assessment may include the use of simple tools to gain additional information about the tree or its defects. Basic is the standard assessment performed by arborists in response to a client’s request for tree risk assessment.

As we mentioned, simple tools can be used for measuring the tree and acquiring more information about the tree or defects. However, the use of these tools is not mandatory unless it’s specified in the original scope of work. Measuring tools may include a diameter tape, clinometers, or a tape measure. Other inspection tools may include binoculars, a magnifying glass, mallet, trowel, shovel or a probe.

  • Binoculars – may be used to inspect the upper portion of the tree’s crown to look for cavities, nesting holes, cracks, weak unions and other conditions and tree responses.
  • Magnifying glass – may be used to help identify fungal fruiting bodies or pests that may affect the overall health of the tree.
  • Mallet – may be used on the trunk. The assessor strikes the tree trunk in various places and listens for tone variations that may indicate hollows or dead bark.
  • Probe – is a small diameter, stiff rod, stick or wire that is inserted into the cavity to estimate its size and extent. Because there may be sections of nonfunctional wood adjacent to a cavity, this type of measurement should be considered only an approximation of the extent of decay.
  • Trowel/Shovel – may be used to conduct minor excavations to expose roots or the root collar. Care should be taken not to damage roots during the excavation process. More extensive root collar excavations are considered in an advanced assessment, which we’ll talk about more next week.

The primary limitation of a basic assessment is that includes only conditions that are detected from a ground-based inspection; internal, belowground and upper-crown factors may be impossible to see or difficult to assess and may remain largely undetected.

For more information on tree inspections, we encourage you to contact us at 512-341-8888. We look forward to working with you.


What to Expect from a Tree Inspection – Limited Visual Assessment

Tree inspections generally come under three types – limited visual assessment, basic assessment and advanced assessment. Over the next few weeks, we will be going into greater detail on each of these types of tree inspections. We will begin with the level 1 assessment, the limited visual assessment.

The Level 1 assessment is a visual assessment from a specified perspective of an individual tree or population of trees to identify obvious defects or specified conditions. A limited visual assessment usually focuses on identifying trees with an imminent and/or probable likelihood of failure. Level 1 assessments do not always meet the criteria for a “Risk Assessment” because they may not include analysis and evaluation of individual trees.

Limited visual assessments are the fastest but least thorough means of tree inspection. They are primarily intended for large populations of trees. The assessment is often done on a specified schedule and/or immediately following a storm to rapidly assess a tree population. Tree inventories are usually considered a Level 1 assessment unless a Risk Assessment is included in the inventory.

The assessor performs a visual assessment by looking for obvious defects, such as dead trees, large cavity openings, large dead or broken branches, fungal fruiting structures, large cracks, and severe leans. The client may specify inspection for certain conditions of concern, such as lethal pests or symptoms associated with root decay.

The process of limited visual assessment should include:

  1. Identifying the location and/or selection criteria of trees to be assessed.
  2. Determining the most efficient route and document the route taken.
  3. Assessing the tree(s) of concern from the defined perspective.
  4. Recording the location of trees that meet the defined criteria.
  5. Evaluating the risk. (Note that a risk rating is optional)
  6. Identifying trees needing a higher level of assessment and/or prompt action.
  7. Submitting recommendations or a report.

Now, the Scope of Work in a limited visual assessment should specify the perspective or type of inspection. The trees can be inspected in one of three ways. First, you walk by the trees themselves. A walk-by is a limited visual inspection of one or more sides of the tree performed as the inspector walks past a tree. The inspector may need to stay on the sidewalk (footpath), on public property or within a right-of-way. The Scope of Work may indicate that the assessor has to walk around certain trees to gain a more complete perspective.

Secondly, you could do a drive-by tree inspection. This is a limited visual inspection of one side of the tree performed from a slow-moving vehicle. The Scope of Work may also specify that the inspector walk around certain trees or record images to verify or document observations. This type of inspection is often performed by municipalities, utilities or other agencies or landowners who have large populations of trees to inspect within a limited budget.

Finally, the inspector could do an aerial patrol inspection. These are made from an aircraft flying over utility rights-of-way or other large areas. This type of inspection is conducted by some electric utility companies or other contractors to identify threats to the electric transmission system. Sometimes, a more detailed, ground-based inspection may be specified to confirm observations. Images may be recorded to document the observations made by the assessor.

When a tree of concern is identified, certain specified information about the tree is recorded. At a minimum, this should include the tree location and recommended remedial action. In addition, the documentation should provide the species name of the tree, tree’s size, defect or condition identified and a work priority. A higher level of inspection may be considered necessary at this point and recommended by the inspector.

A constraint of limited visual assessments is that some conditions may not be visible from a one-sided inspection of a tree. Not all conditions are visible year-round. This type of tree inspection may not be adequate enough to make a risk mitigation recommendation. The assessor may use a level 1 inspection to determine which trees require further inspection at the basic or advanced levels after which an appropriate mitigation can be recommended.

Next week, we’ll discuss the basic assessment. If you have any questions about tree inspections in the meantime, please contact us at 512-341-8888.


How to Prune a Tree

You should learn how to prune a tree when it is planted. Once the tree is in the ground, you should look at it with a critical eye. Are there any crossing branches? Is there more than one ‘leader’, a center branch that comes up from the trunk? Do you notice damaged or broken branches? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you should prune your tree.

When it comes to pruning trees, there are some basics you should understand. First of all, if the branch is more like a twig, you can remove it to where it is connected to the branch. Second, make sure the cut is as flush as possible with the branch and keep it at an angle. Third, never cut half a branch off. Not only is it unsightly to do so, but it will cause the branch to grow at an unusual angle, thus distorting its natural shape. Fourth, while you may be tempted to add a coat of paint or tar to the wound, don’t. This treatment may actually be worse for your tree. It can cause the wound to rot instead of heal. Fifth, always clean your tools before pruning a tree. You can wipe down the tools with rubbing alcohol or soak the tools in a solution of soapy water and a capful of bleach. You should let the tools soak in the solution for at least ten minutes, then rinse them and set out in the sun to finish sterilizing. Finally, if your tree is near power lines, you should have a professional like Austin Tree Service prune your tree.

Tree Pruning Schedule

You should set up a tree pruning schedule the day the tree is planted. Once the tree is securely planted, it’s time to take a look at the shape. You’ll want to remove any branches that are crossing or rubbing together and those that are damaged in any way. If left alone, rubbing branches will eventually become grafted together. Once you remove those branches, you can choose the branch leader. A tree branch leader is the branch that is located in the center of the tree. It will grow upward and become the focal point by which all other branches will be pruned. If you have more than one leader, you will need to make a decision as to which one you want to be the tree’s leader branch. After you make that decision, prune your tree accordingly.

Next, you will want to align the branches so that they alternate up the trunk. Once you finish this, you have completed year one’s pruning schedule. The next time you should prune is during year three or four unless you have damaged branches in the meantime. At this point, you will want to remove suckers and unwanted sprouts that grow along the crown. Next, remove any competing leaders as before. You will also want to get rid of branches that are rubbing or growing in undesirable directions. When that is done, you can open up the tree a little bit. This will increase the amount of sunlight that reaches the interior of the tree, increasing air circulation and reducing plant diseases. It will also increase the amount of available water and nutrients for the tree by cutting back competition for these resources. Finally, you should remove a few of the lower branches. Don’t remove all of them. Gradual removal will create a better and stronger trunk than if you remove them all at once.

The next scheduled pruning should occur when a tree is five to seven years old. At this point, you can remove all branches that are lower than human head level. This will aid in the shape of the tree and will also make adding mulch and fertilizer easier. You should examine the tree to see if you need to remove a branch here or there to keep the tree shape and cut back any side branches that extend past the natural drip line.

If you have done your pruning properly, you should have a good looking tree for many years to come. However, you shouldn’t sit on your laurels when it comes to pruning a tree. Constant upkeep of tree is required during their dormant period, which is late fall through winter. If you keep your trees in good shape, you can reduce breakage due to winter winds, ice and snow if it applies to your region.

What happens if you have a broken branch?

First, you need to come up with a plan. Although your first inkling may be to       go out and cut it, this may not be the best course of action. You should look where the breakage occurs and the surrounding environment. Is the break near a power line, house or car? Is it large or small? Can you reach it safely? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you should contact us to remove the branch. We have the experience and know how to remove tree branches safely and securely without causing further damage to your tree.

If you do decide you can go it alone, you will need to get your supplies together. Keep in mind, though, that your supply list should be based on the size of the branch and its location to its surroundings. You may need are a ladder, rope, hand saw and hand pruners. We do not recommend that you use a chain saw on your own. Once you have your equipment ready, you can clean and disinfect it. Then, you will cut the offending limb(s) down. If the branch is very small, simply nip it off at the closest branch or take it off at the trunk. If the branch is larger, you will want to remove it in pieces.

Got questions on how to prune a tree? Feel free to give us a call at 512-341-8888. We’re happy to help you get your trees in tip top shape.


Famous Trees of Texas – Big Tree Ranch Baldcypress

What words could be used to describe the Big Tree Ranch Baldcypress? Big, towering and massive are some that come to mind. This special baldcypress grows at the appropriately named Big Tree Ranch in Concan. This tree is a former state champion. People in the Texas Hill Country have long revered its size. Did you know that a photo of this tree is on display at a local eatery? Yes. It should then come as no surprise that this baldcypress was included for years on the Uvalde County driving tour.

Today, the tree rests near the bank of the Rio Frio River. It’s still an awesome sight. People still come to visit it to make sure that it’s really that big.

In June 1965, the Big Tree Ranch Baldcypress was officially named the largest of its kind. As a tree of swamps and flooded waterways, the tree continues to thrive in the floodplain of the Rio Frio. When the tree was measured in 1990, it was 96 feet tall with a 112 foot crown spread and a 34 foot, 3 inch circumference. Permanent signs at the Big Tree Ranch proudly display these numbers, along with the tree’s onetime state champion status. Another formal measurement was undertaken in 2013. Although we don’t know the specific measurements, we do have proof that this ancient tree is still growing.

Of course, people also question the tree’s age. A core sample taken in 2009 estimates that the baldcypress is more than 600 years old. Isn’t that amazing?  However, the true age of the tree may not be known. A closer look at the tree reveals it has no buttressed base. Over the years, the Rio Frio has gradually covered the base of the tree with sand, silt and rock. Texas A&M foresters estimate that any formal measurements are likely being done 10-15 feet above the original tree base.

Longtime owner, Roann Stoner Crawford takes a less is more approach to the tree’s care. She allows it to flourish naturally on the rich bottomland of the Rio Frio. She doesn’t do any fertilizer or spray the tree. She and her husband guard the tree and the river land fiercely and respect nature to do its job.

Got any more questions on the baldcypress or any of the famous trees of Texas? Give us a call at 512-341-8888.

Common Oak Tree Diseases Caused by Insects and Other Trees

Last week, we focused on common oak tree diseases of the leaves and twigs. We hope that you found the information interesting. Did you know that there are other oak tree diseases? These are caused by insects and other trees. In this article, we’ll be focusing on those diseases so you can recognize the signs and symptoms before they do real damage to your oak trees.

Bacterial Leaf Scorch

Carried by leafhoppers and spittlebugs, bacterial leaf scorch can also be transferred through contact with other oak roots. The symptoms of this disease mimic plant stress due to a lack of water as in a drought. The oak leaves will turn brown along the edges in response to any drought. What separates plant stress from disease is a reddish brown or yellow border between the brown leaf margin and the green portion of the leaf. Once bacterial leaf scorch is diagnosed, you need to remove the effected tree. Oaks do not discover from this disease. Even if the scorching is minor, it will continue to spread throughout the tree.

Oak Wilt

We have a whole article on this oak tree disease here. Basically, oak wilt starts at the top of the tree and appears as brown or bronzing of the leaves along the margins. The discoloration continues toward the center of a leaf until the leaf dies prematurely. This dieback of the leaves will go along until the tree is dead. This can occur as quickly as four weeks to several years. This disease is spread through root grafts and oak bark beetles. It can live in leaf litter but only until the environment gets up to 90 degrees. Then, oak wilt is killed. To control the disease, you need to cut the tree down. Trenching is also suggested so that root grafting cannot occur.

Fusiform Rust

This oak tree disease is not exactly caused by insects but rather other trees. The offending trees are the loblolly and stash pines. The symptoms on an oak are orange to yellow pustules on the lower branches during the summer and fall. Fusiform rust can cause premature leaf drop and an unsightly appearance, but it will NOT kill the tree. The process of this disease starts in the spring when pine galls open up and release spores.  The spores are carried by the wind to the oak tree. Pustules on the underside of the leaf open up in the late spring and release spores that are carried to pines. Once in the pines, they attack new growth. The only way to make sure that your oak does not catch this disease it to ensure that there are no pines in the area.

Are there other oak tree diseases? Yes, but the ones we have mentioned are the most common. If you have any questions about your oaks or any other tree on your property, feel free to give us a call at 512-341-8888. We look forward to helping you with all of your tree needs.


Common Oak Tree Diseases of the Leaves and Twigs

The oak tree is a versatile plant. It provides shade, acts as a windbreak and produces acorns, which, in turn, feed wildlife. Unfortunately, the mighty oak is subject to some diseases. Some oak tree diseases are nothing more than mild annoyances while others can cause the death of the tree. In this article, we’ll focus on oak tree diseases that affect the leaves and twigs.

Oak Tree Blister

You can see this disease on the top and on the bottom of the leaves. On the surface of the leaf, you will see blister like areas that can be as large as the size of a quarter. One the other side of the leaf, you can find a gray-colored depression that matches up with the blister. As this oak tree disease progresses on the leaf, the blister turns brown, the leaf curls up and dies and it will drop prematurely. Oak tree blister does not cause tree death, but it makes the oak tree look rather unsightly.

The causes of the oak tree blister are environmental. For this disease to occur, the weather must be unseasonably mild, wet and humid in the spring. If these factors occur during the spring or your neighbor has a tree with this disease, it’s possible that yours can become infected. Why? The spores of the disease are easily transported through wind and rain.

To reduce your chances of getting this oak tree disease, you need to clean up your garden space. Remove all the fallen leaves and throw them away. If you have had the disease, do not compost your leaves. The spores will remain in the compost. When you go to use it, you will be reincorporating the spores back into the environment.


This plant disease typically hits new shoots and twigs. It is first seen as a browning of the leaves and twigs that eventually die back. You can also see it present as cupping and browning along the leaf veins in slightly older leaves. Mature leaves are typically not affected by anthracnose. Another characteristic of this oak tree disease is the presence of small fruiting bodies on the underside of affected leaves. These fruiting bodies usually follow the vein of the leaf. Anthracnose is fungal in nature and survives in twigs and plant debris. The disease loves mild winters so it can remain active. Wind and rain are how it spreads from one twig or branch to another and one tree to another.

Your tree may look untidy if it’s affected with anthracnose, but it’s not a deadly oak tree disease. To avoid this problem or help a tree affected with it, you should make sure the tree is properly fed. Next, prune back the lower branches of the oak tree. This increased air circulation around the branches. This helps dry out the immediate environment around the tree. Since fungi like moist environments, by pruning you are helping to keep the environment healthy for your oak tree. Rake up the leaves and twigs that fall from your tree. Dispose of the leaves by placing them in the trash or burning them.

Tubakia Leaf Spot

This oak tree disease appears as brown or reddish brown blotches on young leaves. On older leaves, it looks sort of like spots of dead leaf tissue. Fungal fruiting bodies can be seen on top of the lesions. If the tubakia leaf spots set up on or along the veins of the leaf, the leaf itself can cave in due to the blockage of water up and through the vein.

If the winters are mild, the fungus can live in twig and leaf debris. Like all fungi, it thrives on wet, warm and humid air. Although both white oaks and red oaks can get this disease, the red oak seems to be more susceptible to tubakia leaf spots.

Don’t worry if you find tubakia leaf spots on your oak trees. You can treat them with a few simple steps. First, make sure your oak is in good health. You want to ensure that it’s receiving proper nutrition via fertilizer. You also want to give your tree enough water. It’s a good idea to improve air circulation around the tree. This is done by pruning back the lower branches. Finally, you’ll want to clean up underneath the tree and dispose of leaves and twigs in the trash. This will reduce the chances of a reinfestation of the fungus.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew can occur in plants besides oaks. The most common characteristic of this disease is a white, powdery growth on the top of the leaves. During the late summer to the fall, you can also see small, black, fruiting bodies growing through the powdery growth. If the infection attacks the buds and/or shoots, the growth will be more like the leaves of a holly, which are long and pointy.

A cool, moist spring is a wonderful environment for powdery mildew to grow in. It survives in the leaf debris left from the fall. Wind can spread the spores to new vegetation but they will only take hold on dry leaves. To reduce your chances of developing powdery mildew, you should remove any fallen leaves and/or twigs. You should water your tree in the morning only and prune away any deformed branches or leaves.

As you can see, oak tree diseases can be pretty problematic. Next week, we’ll focus on insect-caused oak tree diseases. If you have questions about the health of your oak tree, please give us a call at 512-341-8888. We’ll be happy to help you.

Oak Wilt Management

In last week’s blog post, we went over what Oak Wilt is. Now, we’ll discuss oak wilt management. There are three primary approaches to oak wilt management that are used in Central Texas. Successful control usually   depends on incorporating measures from all three approaches. The first approach attempts to prevent the formation of new oak wilt infection centers by eliminating diseased red oaks, handling firewood properly and painting wounds on healthy oaks so they don’t get infected in the first place. The second approach involves trenching or other measures which disrupt root connections responsible for transmission of the pathogen. Finally, injections of the fungicide propiconazole into individual, high-value trees help reduce crown loss and may extend the life of the tree. These measures do not cure oak wilt, but they can significantly reduce tree losses.

Preventing new infections

Infected oaks that die in late summer, fall or early winter should be cut down and burned, buried or chipped soon after discovery to prevent fungal mats that may form on these trees the following spring. If this is not possible, you should inject the trees should be injected with herbicide or deeply girdled with an ax and stripped of bark 2 to 3 feet above the soil line. Drying of the wood before spring also discourages the formation of fungal mats.

All wounding of oaks, including pruning, should be avoided from February through June. The least hazardous periods for pruning are during the coldest days in winter and the extended hot period in mid-to-late summer. Regardless of the season, all pruning cuts or other wounds to oak trees, including freshly cut stumps and damaged surface roots, should be treated immediately with paint to prevent exposure to contaminated insect vectors. Any type of paint will suffice.

Care should also be taken when transporting unseasoned firewood from diseased oaks. There is a slight potential to transport the oak wilt fungus. Oak wilt cannot be transmitted by burning diseased firewood. However, fungal mats may form on wood that is kept in storage. Never store your firewood near your oak trees just to be safe. Your best bet is to purchase wood that has been thoroughly dried for at least one full year.

Stopping spread of Oak Wilt through the roots

Measures can be taken to break root connections between live oaks or dense groups of other oaks to reduce or stop root transmission of the oak wilt fungus. The most common technique is to sever roots by trenching at least 4 feet deep with trenching machines, rock saws or ripper bars. Trenches more than 4 feet deep may be needed to assure control in deeper soils.

Correct placement of the trench is critical for successful protection of uninfected trees. There is a delay between colonization of the oak wilt fungus and the appearance of symptoms in the crown. You should carefully identify all infected trees first. The trench should be placed a minimum of 100 feet beyond the symptomatic trees even though there may be ‘healthy’ trees at risk of infection in the trench. Trees within a 100 foot barrier, especially those without symptoms, can be uprooted or cut down and removed to improve the barrier. If you must remove any trees, it’s best to do so after the trenching has been done. You start with healthy trees adjacent to the trench and gradually move inside the trench to include the symptomatic trees. Oak wilt infection centers are best suppressed when detected early, before they become too large. You will want to monitor your trees for several years at least.

Fungicide treatment

Propiconazole is the only fungicide that has been scientifically tested and proven effective for use as a preventative treatment to protect live oaks. It also has limited success with trees that are treated with therapeutic injections during the earliest stage of infection. You inject the fungicide into the tree’s water-conducting vascular system through small holes that are drilled into the root flares at the base of the tree. Treatment success depends on the health of the candidate tree, application rate and injection technique. It’s best to have an experienced hand do the injections. Fungicide injection doesn’t stop root transmission of oak wilt so you should do this in conjunction with trenching or to protect high-value trees that you can’t trench.

For more information on managing oak wilt, we encourage you to call us at Austin Tree Service. Our phone number is 512-341-8888. Thank you.