Why is fall the best time to plant trees in Central Texas?

When is the best time to plant trees in Central Texas? Many of you would say the spring time because you think of new growth and new beginnings. However, that would not be the truth. Experts say fall is the best time to plant trees. Why? Well, trees that get planted in the fall have a head start on establishing roots before the summer sun makes its return.

How is that possible? Well, tree roots grow whenever the temperature is above 40 degrees. In the often mild winters of Central Texas, this gives the roots time to grow before they have to deal with the strength of the summer. Because the roots have been growing during the fall and winter, trees planted now burst forth with new growth when spring arrives.

Fall is the best time to plant balled and burlapped trees and shrubs. This gives them ample time to recover from transplanting and proliferate roots before spring growth begins. When you buy trees for your landscape, you want to make sure that they are healthy. Always buy from a reputable dealer. If you need help determining if a nursery is reputable, please call us. We have a good idea about the best nurseries to deal with in the area. You will want to be wary of ‘bargains’. They can turn out to be your biggest headaches. Instead, buy a tree that is meant for your landscape regardless of whether it’s on sale.

Remember that all trees have growing requirements. You should learn about the ones for the trees you want before you buy. You should plan before you plant. Whether you are planting a single tree or an entire landscape, good planning is a worthwhile investment of time that will pay off in greater enjoyment of attractive and useful home grounds and increasing the value of your home. It’s much easier to move trees on paper than it is when they’re in the ground. Be careful not to plant trees in the wrong place. A plan saves on planting mistakes. You can also use us to plant your trees. We can plan for you and plant it for you. Give us a call at 512-341-8888 for more information.

Top Trees to Plant under Utility Wires

Planting trees under utility wires can be difficult. In this blog post, we’ll give you some ideas as to which trees are good to plant under utility wires. They may not all be the best trees for Central Texas, so you’ll want to consult with a professional like us before attempting to plant these trees anywhere.

Amur maple

The Amur maple is an excellent small tree because of its form, foliage and fall colors. It’s a cold-hardy maple (so, it might not be right for Central Texas). It is also very adaptable. In its summer form, it has red samaras, or seed capsules. The tree is easy to grow, and its mature height will never interfere with utility lines. It has great character and appeal in any garden. Its attractiveness will distract from any utility lines.

Apple serviceberry

This is a beautiful tree with emerging leaves being a purplish color. The best of its cultivars is called Autumn Brilliance. It’s kind of a showy tree with an attractive form, foliage, and bark with good fall color. It’s a very attractive small tree with multiple seasons of interest. The better your soil is, the better the tree’s performance is. It’s best not to plant this tree directly under utility lines. Rather, you want to plant it 6-10 feet out from utility lines so as to avoid future pruning challenges.


This is the “Oklahoma redbud.” Another version of the redbud, called the Eastern redbud, is also good to plant under utility wires, but it can be a pretty high maintenance tree. The Oklahoma redbud has deep purple flowers and lustrous shining leaves. It’s less susceptible to leaf rollers due to the leaf structure and surface texture. The waxy cuticle covering the leaf also helps prevent leaf spot disease, which can occur in other types of redbuds. This tree needs supplemental watering during periods of high heat and responds well to summer wind protection.

Kousa dogwood

Also known as the “Chinese dogwood”, this is a very attractive tree when in flower and during the fall and winter when the form of it adds interest. Chinese, or kousa, dogwood is the Rolls Royce of dogwood trees. It has lovely spring blooms, tiers of horizontal branches, fall foliage, and fruit. Its winter silhouette makes sure that you get four seasons of beauty with this tree. Again, please don’t plant this tree directly under the utility lines, but rather 6-10 feet out from them.

American soil tree

The American soil tree is a great tree for limestone soils. The rich blue-green, oval leaves turn a magnificent yellow, orange, red and reddish purple in the fall. The tree can literally take your breath away in the brief autumn period we get in Texas. The tree can grow under a lot of soil conditions – be they acid or alkaline, infertile, rocky or gravelly. This tree is best planted 6-10 feet away from utility lines.

Large-flowered magnolia

All the planting and maintenance rules that apply to the grand old Southern magnolia also apply to this diminutive relative. If you take care of the tree, it will be a beautiful addition to your landscape. It has leaves smaller than the rest of the species and remains more compact with dense foliage until it gets quite old. It’s a prolific bloomer all season so you can enjoy its beauty for a long time. This is the only cultivar of Southern Magnolia that blooms all summer long. If it’s hearty enough for your area, then you’ll have one gem of a tree.

There are more trees that are wonderful to plant under utility lines. If you have questions, please give us a call. Remember, we have tree planting services and are very happy to help you at any time.


Matching Tree and Site, Part 2 – Site Considerations

Last week, we discussed matching tree and site with respect to adaptability and acclimation. This week, we’ll talk about site considerations. When matching tree and site, you need to think about more than just the type of tree that you are going to plant. You have to think about more than that, but what?

Tree Function

When planting trees on your property, you should think about whether they are going to enhance property values and make outdoor surroundings more pleasant. For example, a deciduous shade tree that loses leaves in the fall can provide cooling heat from summer heat and allow the winter sun to warm a home. An ornamental tree will display beautiful flowers, leaves, bark or fruit. Evergreens with dense, persistent foliage can create a windbreak or a screen for privacy. A tree that produces fruit can also provide food for wildlife or the home. Street trees can decrease the glare from the pavement, reduce runoff, filter out pollutants, and add oxygen to the air we breathe. Street trees will also improve the overall appearance of the neighborhood.

Form and Size

Selecting the right form (shape) to complement the desired function can significantly reduce maintenance costs and increase the tree’s value in the landscape. Also, a mature tree size can determine the level of benefits you will receive from the tree. Larger trees typically provide the greatest economic and environmental returns.

Depending upon site restrictions, you can chose from hundreds of form and size combinations. It can get dizzying. For example, a low, spreading tree can be planted under overhead utility lines. A narrow, columnar evergreen might provide a screen between two buildings. Large, vase-shaped trees can create an arbor over a driveway or a city street.

Site Conditions

Selecting a tree that will thrive in a given set of site conditions is the key to long-term tree survival and reduced maintenance. You must consider the following when selecting a tree:

  • Soil conditions,
  • Exposure to sun and wind,
  • Drainage,
  • Space constraints,
  • Hardiness zone,
  • Human activity,
  • And insect and disease susceptibility.

Soil Conditions

In dense urban areas and new subdivisions, soil is often disturbed, shallow, compacted and subject to drought. Most trees will suffer in these conditions without additional care. You can get soil samples from your yard tested for texture, fertility, salinity, and pH (alkalinity or acidity). The test results can determine which trees are suited to your property and may include recommendations for improving poor soil conditions.


The amount of sunlight available will affect tree and shrub species selection for a particular location. Most woody plants require full sunlight for proper growth and flowering. Some do well in, or even prefer, light shade. There are even a few species of tree that will do well in dense shade. You should also consider wind exposure. Why? Wind can dry out soil, damage a tree crown, and uproot newly planted trees. Special maintenance such as staking or more frequent watering may be necessary to establish young trees on windy sites.


Tree roots require oxygen to develop and thrive. If the site has poor drainage, then that limits the oxygen to the roots of the tree. This can ultimately kill a tree. If drainage is an issue on your property, you should ask us what can be done to correct the problem. We will have some suggestions for you.


What is hardiness? Well, it’s the tree’s ability to survive the extreme temperatures of the particular geographic region you’re planting the tree. In Texas, your tree will need to withstand extreme heat and windiness. You need a heat tolerant tree for certain. You can check with your local garden center or nursery for information on the hardiness of certain tree species for your area.

Space Constraints

There are many different factors that can limit the planting space available to a tree. These include, but are not limited to: overhead or underground utilities, pavement, buildings, other trees and visibility. The important thing to note is that you make adequate room for the tree you select to grow to maturity, both above and below ground.

Human Activity

People often overlook this factor, but it’s an important one. Why? Well, the top five causes of tree death are done by people to trees. They are soil compaction, under-watering, overwatering, vandalism, and planting the wrong tree (number one). These five factors account for more tree deaths than all insect- and disease-related tree deaths combined.

Pest Problems

Every tree has its pest problems. The severity varies geographically. These pests may or may not be life-threatening to the plant. Regardless, it’s best to select trees that area resistant to pest problems to your specific area. We can help you figure out what those trees are.

Species Selection

We know that personal preferences as well as site considerations play major roles in your species selection, or at least they should. If you take into consideration, all the factors listed above, you can help ensure that you plant trees that will grow and function as you desire.

If you need help with this process, Austin Tree Service is here for you. Give us a call at 512-341-8888. Our certified arborist can give you helpful advice and we can help plant the tree on your site. Contact us today for more information.

Matching Tree and Site, Part 1 – Adaptability and Acclimation

When you’re matching tree and site, you have to worry about some things. Next week, we’ll give you actual site considerations and logistics. This week, we’re going to talk about adaptability and acclimation. What are adaptability and acclimation?

Adaptability is the genetic ability of plants and other living organisms to adjust or accommodate to different environments while acclimation is the process by which plants and other living organisms adapt physiologically to a climate or environment different than their own. They work in conjunction with each other. One is genetic and one is physiological, but they do both deal with how a tree adjusts to a different environment.

The first thing you need to do when bringing new trees into your landscape is to consider your expectations. What purpose will your trees serve in your landscape? Are they there for privacy or beauty? How much maintenance are you willing to do? You should also decide what you don’t want from your trees. There are some things about trees you’ll want to consider when matching tree and site.


How fast does it grow? Very vigorous trees quickly fill their allotted space and provide shade and privacy in just a few years. They tend to require frequent pruning; however, and may have brittle limbs and short life spans. Trees that grow slowly usually live longer and require less pruning.


How tall and wide will the tree get? Consider this aspect carefully if you have limited space or dislike pruning. Plant a tree in an area that can accommodate its height and width. This seems simple, but many people don’t consider this as carefully as they should and they wind up with trees that are too big for the areas they set is aside for. You can always ask us before you plant a tree. We’re happy to help.


Is the tree adapted to your climate? It’s always best to get trees that are adapted to the climate as well as the sun, soil, and water conditions at the proposed planting site. You can have trees acclimatize and adapt to the area, but it’s much easier if the tree is already predisposed to the conditions of the area you are going to place it in. It will do much better.

Now, trees are amazing organisms. Make sure you get ones that are well-suited to your site. That will give the tree the best chance to survive and be a part of your landscape for a long time. While it’s true that many trees can adapt to a different climate, it’s not ideal. We try to suggest native trees whenever possible. They’re really your best bet. For more information, feel free to ask questions on our Facebook page. We’ll be happy to have someone answer them for you.


Why Tree Planting in Winter is a Good Thing

treeplanting1In Central Texas, now is the time to plant trees. Tree planting in the late fall and winter is a good thing especially considering we’ve had unseasonably warm weather this year. That makes conditions more favorable for tree planting. Many excellent varieties of trees are available at your local nursery. Pick one that works with your landscape. Ask the nursery staff if you have questions.

Why is tree planting in winter so good?

If you plant a tree in winter, by spring, your tree will have established roots. When spring arrives, the tree will be on its way to providing shade for years and years to come. Planting a tree during winter gives a tree a fighting chance come summer. Why? It will be ready for growing season and the roots will be established and better able to handle the hot weather that plagues Central Texas during late Spring through late Summer. The tree will start to acclimatize itself to the soil so in spring it grows as normal.

What is smart tree planting?

Smart tree planting means that you plant trees that you can easily water and sustain. Newly planted trees should be watered often – about three times a week. This, of course, depends on rain and proper drainage. With each watering, you should apply 5 gallons per inch of trunk diameter as it is measured six inches above the ground. For example, a tree with a 1-inch diameter should get 5 gallons of water, three times a week. That’s 15 gallons in total per week. You can alter this watering schedule depending on soil moisture. You want to make sure the root zone is not too dry or too wet. Since soil dries slower in lower temperatures, watering needs will decrease in the winter.

The key is selecting the right tree for the right location. You can talk with your nursery staff or contact our arborist for more information on choosing the best size and type for your garden. You can also check out this website at: http://texastreeplanting.tamu.edu/.

Some tree planting tips

Planning is a crucial part before digging the hole. You should select the trees that will adapt to the sunlight and soil conditions around your home. Decide whether you want an evergreen or deciduous tree, which allows for winter sunlight. You should consider the tree’s mature height and width so you can plant it a safe distance from your home and utility lines. A shade tree that matures to 25 or more feet, for example, should be planted at least 20 feet from your home and utility lines. A tree that grows to 20 or less feet should be spaced at least 10 feet from those areas.

Still got questions about tree planting? Guess what? We can plant your trees for you. All you have to do is maintain them and take care of them. We, at Austin Tree Service, love tree planting. Give us a call at 512-341-8888 today. You know we’ll do it right.






How to promote healthy growth of a newly planted tree?

planting a tree
You have a newly planted tree. You want to promote healthy growth. How do you do it? Well, there are some steps you should follow to keep your tree healthy.

Avoid Transplant Shock

Many newly planted trees suffer from stress because of root loss when dug up at the nursery. This condition is called transplant shock. It results in the newly planted tree’s vulnerability to drought, insects and other issues. Basically, transplant shock lasts until the natural balance between the root system and the top or crown of the transplanted tree is restored. A tree’s chances of survival can be improved through practices that establish the root system. You must care for your tree regularly during the first three years of transplanting.

Protect Tree Roots and Transplanting

An undisturbed, healthy tree usually has a very shallow root system. With good planting techniques and soil conditions, the establishment phase takes one growing season per inch of trunk diameter. On small trees, for example, trunk diameter is measured six inches above the soil line. A two-inch diameter tree takes about two years to establish. In warmer regions of the Unites States, like Texas, however, the establishment phase can be measured in months. One way to determine that the tree is establishing is by observing twig growth. The more twig growth, the more established the tree is.

It’s important to know that the root system normally extends beyond the branch spread. Fine roots absorb water and nutrients that are located very near the soil surface. This is usually located in the top four to ten inches. A natural balance exists between the roots where the water is absorbed and the top of the tree where water is utilized and transpired to the atmosphere.

When a tree is dug for transplanting, about 95% of the roots are severed. This causes the newly transplanted tree suffers from water stress. The crown can lose water faster than it can be absorbed by the limited root mass. Water stress, in turn, can reduce the ability of leaves to produce energy, diminish the growth of all parts of the tree, and subject the tree to many other environmental and pest-related problems.

Generating Root Systems of Newly Planted Trees

You need to have rapid root regeneration for your newly planted tree to survive. Keeping the top of the tree alive and healthy until the natural balance between the roots and top is restored is essential. Initial root development of a newly planted tree is supported by energy stored within the trunk, branch and root tissues. To get continued root growth during the establishment period, your tree has to depend on the leaves of the tree producing high levels of carbohydrates during the growing season, especially during the first year following transplanting.

At this point, pruning trees is not recommended. You should leave the entire top intact to favor rapid development of a supporting root system. Top pruning should be restricted to removing broken and damaged branches and developing a good tree structure. Supplemental watering is critical to avoiding moisture stress.

Plant Your Tree Properly and Give it Regular Follow-Up Care

Proper tree planting site selection is very important when planting a tree. Trees planted on inappropriate sites or in poor soil environments will not survive. If the tree and site are properly matched, successful transplanting can be achieved with good planting procedures and regular maintenance following planting. Urban planting sites usually have dense, compacted subsoils with little to no top soil. Water cannot easily infiltrate compacted soils, and, with heavy rains or overwatering may remain for long periods in loose soil. In excessively wet soil, oxygen is unavailable in sufficient amounts to support root growth.

Trees planted in compacted or wet soils have to develop fine root systems near the soil surface where oxygen is most available. If you enlarge the top of the hole two to three times that of the root ball, the diameter increases the amount of loose, backfill soil near the surface where conditions are not favorable for root growth. Generally speaking, soil from the planting hole should be used to backfill around the root ball. If organic matter is used to amend the soil, it should be incorporated in an area large enough to accommodate root growth for several years.

Watering & Mulching

You should water and mulch a newly planted tree to make sure it stays healthy. Soil moisture is definitely important during the first three years following transplanting. Studies show that carbohydrate levels which are critical for root generation are NOT lowered if newly planted trees are adequately watered. One inch of water each week for the first season is recommended. You should monitor the soil and apply water as needed, however. Overwatering can cause as many problems as under-watering so be careful.

If you mulch a large area around newly planted trees with three to four inches or wood chips or bark, soil moisture will be conserved and the soil temperature itself will remain moderate. Mulch will inhibit the growth of grass. Grass can provide serious competition for resources while you’re trying to establish roots.


We hope these tips will help you have healthy growth for your newly planted trees. If you follow these suggestions, you should be able to get through the planting period safely and successfully. Call us at Austin Tree Service if you have questions. We’re more than happy to help.

Tree Planting in Winter

treeplantingWinter is one of the best times to plant a tree in Austin. Tree planting in winter will give you a green spring. Some of the best trees are available at the nursery in winter. All you have to do is look. If you’d like to know what kinds of trees work best in your yard, give us a call at 512-341-8888 and we’ll be happy to tell you what to look for. The important thing to remember is that if you plant your new tree in winter, it will use the winter dormant season to establish new roots. That way – when spring arrives, your tree will be on its way to providing much-needed shade for your yard and home.

A basic guideline for high quality trees is:

  • They have enough sound roots to support healthy growth,
  • They have a single, central trunk or leader,
  • They have a trunk that is free of mechanical wounds and wounds from incorrect pruning,
  • They have a strong form with well-spaced, firmly attached branches,
  • And they have leaves with good color and no obvious insect or disease damage.

You should stick with native varieties of trees to plant. These will need less water and can survive in our 100+ degree summer weather. Some of the best trees to plant in Austin are Bur Oak, Texas Ash and a Pecan tree. Cedar Elm and Chinquapin Oak are also good to plant in the Austin area.

Why Should I Plant a Tree?

Energy Conservation – if you plant your trees strategically on the west, south and east sides of your home, you can reduce cooling costs by up to 50%. Deciduous trees shade your home during the hot summer months and allow sunlight to warm your home during the winter.

Increased Property Value – Having trees in your yard can enhance the economic vitality of your home. They can increase property values by as much as 20%. If you’re looking to sell in the spring or summer, planting a tree in winter will make sure it’s ready by then.

Wildlife Habitat – Trees provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife in urban settings.

Aesthetics – Trees beautify our landscapes. They have also been known to have an impact on our sense of well-being.

Improved Air Quality – Trees act as filters. They trap dust and absorb air pollutants while releasing vital oxygen into the air for us to breathe.

We hope this brief guideline has helped you to understand why planting trees in Austin during the winter are a good practice and how to get the best trees to plant. If you have any questions about tree planting, feel free to contact us at Austin Tree Service. We’re always happy to help.