How to Water a Tree

If you’re not wondering how to water a tree, we bet you probably should wonder. Watering trees is a very important process. Doing it right will help keep your trees alive for a long time. How you water a tree often depends on the tree’s age. We’ll give you some guidelines in this blog post. We hope they help you make smart decisions on watering your trees.

How to Water Newly Planted Trees

You must water a newly planted tree immediately after it’s been planted. All tree roots are in the root ball area. Until new roots grow into the soil of the planting site, water the original root ball area and just a little bit around it. The root ball area might dry out faster than the surrounding soil, so check the moisture in this area pretty regularly for the first month or two after planting.

How to Water Trees During the First Two Years

During the first couple of growing seasons, your newly planted tree is expending a lot of energy. It’s trying to establish new roots in the soil. Especially during the first few summers of your new tree’s life, you will want to water the tree regularly. You may also want to cover the tree with some wood-chip mulch. How often you water the tree will be an important indication of how well the tree survives the heat and potential drought. Deep watering is a good idea because it can help speed up root establishment. Deep watering a tree consists of keeping the soil moist down to a depth that includes all its roots.

How Much Should You Water Your Trees and When

Too little or too much water is not good for a tree. Overwatering is a common tree care mistake. Moist is different than soggy – not many people know the difference. A damp soil that dries for a short period will allow adequate oxygen to permeate the soil. As a general rule, your soil should be moist. If you water a tree for 30 seconds with a steady stream of water from a garden hose with a diffuser nozzle, then that should be sufficient for seedlings. Mulching is also a key factor in keeping moisture in the soil.

You can check your soil’s moisture by using a garden trowel and inserting it into the ground to a depth of 2”. Then, you can move the blade back and forth to create a small narrow trench. Then touch the soil with your fingers. If it is moist to the touch, your trees don’t need water.

How to Water Your Tree After the First Two Years of Its Life

After your tree has been in your yard for two years, the roots will be established. This will allow your tree to withstand a wide variety of conditions on its own because it has a proper root structure. You will not need to water your trees as often after it has matured to this point.

If you have any questions on how to water a tree, please contact us at Austin Tree Service. We are happy to help you with your tree questions. You can also visit our Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/KeepingAustinGreen. We look forward to hearing from you.

What’s the Difference Between a Deciduous and an Evergreen Tree

Deciduous and evergreen are two opposite types of trees. They are categorized by the pattern and seasonality of their foliage growth. Plants between deciduous and evergreen are known as semi-deciduous trees. They have characteristics of both. In this article, we’ll tell you the main differences between an evergreen and a deciduous tree.

What are deciduous trees?

Deciduous is a term that refers to trees which seasonally shed their unnecessary parts, such as leaves, from their structure. Most deciduous trees are broad leaf trees. Because of the structure of the leaves and the pattern of leaf arrangement, the effectiveness of photosynthesis is very high in deciduous trees. Unfortunately, deciduous trees have both positive and negative aspects to them. Since they shed their leaves seasonally (during autumn and winter usually), they are very susceptible to wind and other winter weather conditions.

The falling of the leaves helps them prepare for winter conditions. It ensures better survival in winter as well as high water conservation and protection against predatory actions. Deciduous tree characteristics are observable in many woody trees like oak and maple. There are two characteristic deciduous forests where the majority of trees shed their foliage at the end of their typical growing season. These are temperate deciduous forests and tropical (and subtropical) deciduous forests. Trees in temperate deciduous forests are sensitive to the seasonal temperature variations whereas the tropical deciduous trees respond to seasonal rainforest patterns.

What are evergreen trees?

The evergreen tree is a complete contrast to the deciduous tree. As the name implies, an evergreen’s foliage remains on the tree throughout the entire year. There is no seasonal leaf shedding. Evergreen plants have a huge deviation within them. They include most conifers and angiosperms such as hemlock, cycads, and eucalyptus trees.

This does not mean that evergreens never shed their foliage. Old leaves of evergreen trees are replaced by new growth as they age. Evergreen trees favor warm, temperate climates. Many tropical rainforests are considered evergreens.

What are the differences between a deciduous and an evergreen tree?

There are several important differences between a deciduous and an evergreen tree. We will list them for you here:

  • Deciduous and evergreen trees are opposite each other. Deciduous trees shed their leaves seasonally and evergreen trees keep their foliage throughout the year.
  • Deciduous trees are adapted to tolerate cold and dry weather conditions by shedding their leaves while evergreens do not.
  • Evergreens can survive with low soil nutrients. A huge portion of internal nutrients is removed during the defoliation of deciduous trees.
  • Nutrient requirements of evergreens are somewhat higher than those of deciduous trees during bad weather because of the need for foliage maintenance. In deciduous trees, it is high after harsh weather when the foliage is renewed.
  • Deciduous trees are more sensitive to temperature and rain fall than evergreen trees.

We hope that this article has helped you to better understand deciduous and evergreen trees, especially their differences. If you have questions on what types of trees you have, please contact us at 512-341-8888. We’ll be very happy to help you determine whether you have deciduous or evergreen trees.

How To Identify a Tree, Part 2

Last week, we gave you an introduction into how to identify a tree. This week we continue with that information, so you’ll know how to identify a tree without any problems. We were working on leaves and needles. Let’s continue.

Leaves (Continued)

Leaves have many distinguishing characteristics. They are, in essence, a study in and of themselves.

Leaf Base

The leaf base is important to know about when identifying a tree because leaves that are closely related to each other will show similar characteristics in their leaf bases. For example, elms have leaves with a characteristic asymmetrical base. The leaf base does not equally meet the leaf stalk.

Leaf Texture

Leaves can be dull, glossy or hairy. Look at both sides of the leaf to see whether the hairs cover the whole leaf or just one side.

Leaf Color

Leaf color is most important if the leaves change color before they fall off. In Texas, we don’t have an autumn change per se, so this may not be the best indicator of which type of tree you are looking at. However, some trees turn vivid colors before they go brown and fall off the tree. If you can find out which ones do that, then you’re well on your way to identifying the tree.

If the tree has needles or scales, then it’s a conifer. You can tell a lot by whether they are needles or scales. Most conifers have the needles or scales on the tree all year round that you can use for identification. We’re not sure that there are many conifers in Texas, but it’s important to note in case you’re in other parts of the country or world and looking at trees.

Flowers

Many trees flower at a particular time of year. When they are present, they can be very helpful in tree identification.

Tree Reproduction

Trees have different strategies when it comes to reproduction. Broadleaf trees, for example, have flowers that contain the reproductive organs and conifers have cones for reproduction.

  • Hermaphroditic trees, such as cherries, produce flowers with both male and female parts.
  • Unisexual trees include birches and have male and female parts on separate flowers.
  • Monoecious trees, such as alder, have separate male and female flowers on the same tree.
  • Dioecious trees, like holly and yew, have separate male and female trees entirely.

Flowers arrangement

Flowers occur in a variety of shapes, sizes and arrangements.

  • Solitary flowers are single flowers appearing by themselves on different parts of the tree.
  • Clusters are many small flowers that form together in large branched groups such as in the elder tree.
  • Catkins are dense, hanging spikes of tiny inconspicuous flowers such as those of the willow tree.

Appearance

Some flowers are so tiny that you have to be up close to see them. Male and female flowers can also look very different from each other on the same tree. A flower’s color can vary. For some species, however, they can be a defining feature. Apple and blackthorn flowers are usually white while catkins are almost always yellow-green. Ash flowers are a deep purple-red.

Fruits and Seeds

Just like flowers, fruits and seeds tend to appear at certain times of the year. They can be great identifiers for a tree. They vary in shape, appearance and size from hard nuts to berries. You’ll want to look at the color and feel the texture of the fruit. Is the outer surface smooth, hairy, prickly, rough or papery? Is it soft, hard or dry? You may want to open up the fruit to identify a tree. What do the seeds look like inside?

Fruits of Broadleaf Trees

They vary greatly and include:

  • Samaras are papery winged fruits. The wings can be in pairs (field maple and sycamore) or single (hornbeam).
  • Nuts are usually dry and woody. Some are unmistakable like the shiny brown sweet chestnuts inside prickly casings.
  • Catkins are long and dangly and become fluffy masses of seeds in summer. They are often found on willows and birches.
  • Berries are soft and juicy fruits that contain several seeds.
  • Stone fruits have a fleshy exterior and a single stone inside like plums do.
  • Apples or pears are larger, fleshy fruits with many seeds inside.
  • Capsules are seeds contained inside capsules of varying shapes and colors like the bright pink capsules of spindle which split open to reveal bright orange seeds.
  • Cones occur in trees like the alder. They can be dry and woody and appear on the tree all year long.

Leaf Buds and Twigs

It can be hard to identify a tree, especially in winter. Leafs buds and twigs can provide some identifying clues.

Leaf Bud Arrangement and Position

Leaf buds are usually present on twigs throughout the winter. When they are at the end of the twig, they are called terminal buds. These are often the largest buds. Those growing along the twig are lateral buds and can have any one of three arrangements.

  • Alternate occur in pairs arranged in turn on opposite sides of the stem.
  • Opposite occur in pairs placed directly on either side of the stem.
  • Spiral buds whorl alternately around the stem.

How the buds are held on the twig also provide a subtle clue. For example, willow buds are tightly pressed against the twig whereas those of oak and beech stick out at a right angle from the twig.

Leaf Bud Shape and Appearance

Some trees have distinctively shaped buds. Many others have oval shaped buds. You may need to use something else to figure out what kind of tree it is. Trees with characteristic buds include beech with its sharply pointed straight-sided buds and hose chestnut with red sticky buds. Oaks, elms and birches all have small scales which protect the bud inside.

Twigs Appearance and Texture

To identify a tree by its twigs, you should look at the twig texture and determine if it’s either smooth or hairy. Spines could indicate you’re looking at a blackthorn. If they are corky ribs, you may be looking at an alder. Twig color can be subjective but there are a few trees where it is a key feature, particularly on new growth. There are a few species where color can help identification including the red of dogwood, the greens and yellows of willows and dark purple-black of blackthorn. Alder buckthorn twigs have orange markings called lenticels.

As you can see from both of our articles on how to identify a tree, there are many ways to identify a tree. Trees have many distinguishing characteristics. It takes a sharp eye and a little know-how to identify a tree. With practice, you can learn to do it. Have questions about your trees? Please give us a call at 512-341-8888. We’re Austin Tree Service and we’re happy to help you with your trees.

How to Identify a Tree, Part 1

You’ve always loved trees, but you’ve never really known how to identify them. How do you identify a tree? Well, in this blog post, we’ll tell you a bit about how to identify a tree. It’s not that hard. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to do it. In fact, anyone can.

The first step in identifying a tree comes from knowing that there are always going to be distinguishing characteristics separating one species from another. All trees have features and clues that can help with identification. You just need to know what to look out for.

Look at the leaves or needles. Is it a broadleaf tree – these are usually deciduous? Is it a conifer? These usually have scales or needles. There are different features that will present at different seasons of the year. You can use twigs, leaf buds or bark to determine the type of tree if you’re searching in winter, for example.

You should also take notice of the surrounding area. Look at what’s growing around it. For example, is the tree near water? Some species are more likely to grow near water, scrubland, parks or the woods. You should always use as many features as you can. The more you use, the more likely you’ll be able to identify the tree. Take into account the overall size and shape of the tree, bark, leaves or needles, flowers, fruits, leaf buds and twigs.

Identify a Tree by the Shape, Appearance and Bark

Some trees have a distinctive overall appearance.  For example, a silver birch is narrow and light with an airy crown while an oak is big and has a broadly spreading crown. Trees in the woods often have narrower crowns than those growing in parks where they have lots of space to spread around.

Bark, the corky, waterproof layer of a tree, protects the tree against disease and external attack. Many trees, on first glance, have a similar-looking, brown bark. However, take a closer look. Does the bark have ridges or depressions? Are there peeling flakes or is it shiny? Is the bark a different color? Bark can be many colors. Grey, white, red and green are some. Is the bark young or old? Young bark has less ‘texture’ than older bark does.

Identify a Tree by Leaves and Needles

Leaf type, shape, appearance, texture and color are all key characteristics when you identify a tree. They are usually the most obvious feature, particularly in spring and summer. Needles and scales of conifers are also considered types of leaves. Broadleaf trees fall into two categories: simple and compound. A simple broadleaf has whole leaves. They are NOT divided to the central leaf vein like an apple or a birch tree. The edges of some simple leaves are indented or lobed such as sycamore, maple or hawthorne. Be careful not to confuse them with compound leaves. Compound leaves are feather-shaped and leaflets are divided right up to the central vein into separate leaflets. Compound leafs are either pinnate or palmate.

Pinnate leaves are feather-shaped and leaflets are attached in pairs along the central vein such as rowan, ash or elder. Palmate leaves join to a central point. They are palm-shaped, like the outstretched fingers of a hand. Horse chestnut has palmate leaves.

Leaves can have many different shapes including egg-shaped (ovate), long and thin (lanceolate), triangular (deltoid), round (orbicular) and heart-shaped (cordate).  The edge of leaves can also provide distinguishing characteristics. Look out for edges that are serrated or toothed (hornbeam and common lime), prickly (holly), wavy (beech) or lobed (oaks, hawthorn, sycamore and field maple). Leaf margins that are smooth and have no obvious features are called entire.

Next week, we’ll talk more about identifying trees. We’ll continue with leaves and move on to flowers, fruits and seeds as well as leaf buds and twigs. All can be identifying factors. If you have any questions about your trees, please contact us at Austin Tree Service. We can be reached at 512-341-8888.

What are the roots of a tree really for?

You know all trees have roots, but have you ever wondered what they’re really for? Tree roots serve many purposes. They anchor the tree to the soil, making sure it stays straight and stable. The roots absorb water from the soil and take nutrients and chemicals out of the soil to produce what they need for the tree’s growth, development and repair.

Where do the roots occur?

Eighty percent of all roots occur in the top 12-36 inches of the soil. In sandy, well-drained soils, some trees like oaks and pines can develop deeper roots, directly beneath the tree trunk. These are known as taproots but are actually deeper roots to help anchor the tree. Most trees never develop taproots, especially when water is close to the surface or when the soil is compacted.

If there’s damage to the roots of a tree on one side, it may cause branch die back on that side or at random places throughout the crown. Therefore, damage to the roots of a tree harms the branches of a tree. In some tree species, roots on one side of the tree supply the same side of the crown with water and nutrients absorbed through the roots. If these roots are injured, the branches on that side will drop leaves. In other tree species, damage on one side of the roots can cause branch death anywhere on the tree.

Why can pruning be harmful to a new tree’s growth?

Pruning branches on trees that have not yet been planted will not help a tree grow better or establish a balance between the roots and the canopy. When trees are dug up from the nursery to be transplanted, many of the tree’s roots remain in the soil. A newly planted tree needs all the leaves it has to help support the growth or new roots. Pruning trees before planting removes the food producing area of the tree (the leaves). This hurts the tree’s ability to become established and create roots.

Why are symptoms of drought and over-watering the same?

Tree roots need moisture, air and a favorable temperature to function and grow. They need to be deep enough to avoid sunlight and stay moist. They should be shallow enough to absorb adequate oxygen. When a tree is over-watered, the roots don’t receive enough oxygen to function. As a result, tree leaves wilt, die and fall off. During a drought, trees don’t receive enough water to function properly. The same result happens. Tree leaves wilt, die and fall off. It’s best to slowly and deeply apply five to eight gallons of water to newly planted and young trees once a week during dry, hot periods.

Still have questions about tree roots? We’re happy to answer them. Please call Austin Tree Service at 512-341-8888. We’re always happy to help.

How to Prevent and Care for Tree Wounds?

The best way to care for a tree is to prevent tree wounds in the first place. Proper planting of your trees and regular maintenance are the keys to keeping trees safe and healthy. In this article, we’ll discuss ways to prevent and care for tree wounds.

Proper Selection and Planting

Possibly the most important thing you can do to prevent tree wounds is to pick the right tree to plant. Then, you should place it in the best possible place. Finally, plant it carefully and expertly. If you need any help with any of this, Austin Tree Service can provide it. We offer tree planting services for our customers.

You should look at the site carefully and completely before you plant your tree to prevent serious tree wounds later. Make sure the space is large enough to accommodate the tree’s crown and roots. At the nursery, you should select trees with well-developed crowns and no wounds on the trunk and branches. Trees pruned heavily in the nursery or seriously wounded in handling may have problems later. You may want to steer clear of those.

Mulching

Mulching is an important maintenance practice for trees. If you properly apply the mulch, you will increase the tree’s growth rate, prevent basal damage, and conserve soil moisture. Organic mulch should be applied around the tree to a depth of two to four inches. You will want to monitor your mulched areas during the winter, checking for rodent activity. It’s a wise idea to renew the mulch as needed to keep it at a good depth.

What should you use for mulching materials? Well, wood chips, bark or some other natural material is good. You should avoid using rocks or plastic sheeting. Rocks cause soil compaction and plastic sheeting will suffocate your root systems. Woven weed barrier fabric can be effective at reducing weed competition. It also allows for moisture and oxygen to enter the soil. It does not, however, add organic matter to the soil or reduce compaction like organic mulch does. Mulch should be spread about a foot or more away from the base of the tree in every direction. When mulching established trees, you can put it directly on the grass.

Watering

Watering trees can prevent tree wounds because water is critical to trees. Of course, too much moisture can cause tree damage as well so you have to strike a balance and get it just right. Newly planted trees need to be watered weekly to an inch in the absence of rainfall. Established trees can go about two weeks. Remember – this is in addition to any water you provide the grass on your lawn. For example, a new tree with grass surrounding it may need two inches of water weekly.  If you water more than that, you could inhibit the soil’s own oxygen, smother the roots and reduce their depth.

Fertilizing

Trees should be fertilized only when they need it. If their growth is adequate and steady, the foliage on the tree appears healthy and there has been no major disturbance around the tree, then no fertilization is needed. When you do need to fertilize, use a slow release, balanced, granular fertilizer that you distribute over the tree’s entire root zone. This will protect against tree wounds.

Pruning

When pruning, it is important to make final cuts at the proper location. You should avoid over-pruning the trees. Pruning is recommended annually or as-needed. If you have tree wounds, you don’t want to wait to prune them or the tree can suffer tremendously. A good rule of thumb is to not prune more than ¼ of a tree’s foliage in a given year. It’s good to prune smaller branches because you get smaller tree wounds. The smaller tree wounds are easier to care for and close.

Wound Treatment

Wound treatment should be confined to only the removal of loose bark or wood. You can leave the tree wound exposed to begin the natural process of callus formation. This will cause the wound to heal and seal over. Once upon a time, it was recommended to ‘scribe’ the tree. This meant shaping the wound in an elliptical. It was thought that this would help water and nutrients flow around the wounded area. It’s no longer recommended since it only makes wounds larger and does not improve sap flow. Wound dressings are also not recommended since they can actually increase decay.

So, the best treatment is pruning if the wound is big enough. If it’s not that big, then let nature take its course and the tree will help repair itself. If you have question on tree wounds, please contact us at Austin Tree Service. We can be reached at 512-341-8888.

The Vascular System of a Tree

The vascular system of a tree deals with how food and water travel between the roots and the leaves.  We know that, without water and food, our trees would die. A tree must have a way to absorb water and food and distribute it to other parts of the tree, right?

Water and food travel up from the roots via a system of tubes called the xylem. Sugars made during photosynthesis travel down from the leaves through the phloem. Each year, new layers of xylem and phloem are added to the tree. The new layers exist along with the old as the tree grows.

We know that trees need oxygen. Oxygen needs to be available to a tree’s root system. This chemical element needs to be available in the soil. Oxygen can be lost when soil is compacted or waterlogged.  One of the functions of the roots is to take water up from the soil and send it to the leaves to be used during photosynthesis. (For more on photosynthesis, please visit our blog post on the subject here.)

Tiny root hairs perform this function so that photosynthesis can occur. They absorb water. These hairs can wear out pretty quickly and are constantly being replaced. We know that water is pulled up through the tree via transpiration. It is used in photosynthesis and then released into the atmosphere, along with oxygen. This is done via the stomata, tiny pores that are located on the underside of leaves. Stomata create their own tiny moist atmosphere when they’re open. When water is released through the stomata, more is pulled up from the roots like liquid through a straw.

Some trees have the ability to close the stomata during stressful times like drought. This helps them to reduce water loss and protect themselves. However, they can’t stay shut forever or photosynthesis will not occur. Chlorophyll, the green pigment found in leaves, is located in cells called chloroplasts. This is where photons of light are captured and, through a process involving water and carbon dioxide, sugars are made. The sugars are sent down to the roots of the plant through the phloem.

That’s basically what the vascular system of a tree does. It sends water up and food down. Do you have any questions? We encourage you to ask them on our Facebook page so our knowledgeable community can get in on the conversation. If you notice problems with your tree, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 512-341-8888. We are always happy to help at Austin Tree Service.

 

Tree Biology – The Main Parts of a Tree

At Austin Tree Service, we want you to know as much as you can about your trees. We think it helps you take better care of your trees. The better care you take of your trees, the longer your trees will last. In this blog post, we will give you some information about the main parts of a tree. It’s the basics of tree biology. Hopefully, you can learn something about tree biology that you didn’t know before.

The Main Parts of the Tree

Trees have three main parts. These are the leaves, the trunk and the roots. The leaves are what we call the food factories of the tree. They contain chlorophyll. Chlorophyll facilitates photosynthesis and gives leaves their green color. During photosynthesis, leaves use the sun’s energy to convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water from the soil into sugar and oxygen. The sugar is the tree’s food. It is either stored or used in the branches, trunk and roots. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere.

A tree’s roots, which are an important part of tree biology, absorb water and nutrients from the soil, store sugar and keep the tree upright in the ground. Every tree has lateral roots that branch into smaller and smaller roots that usually extend horizontally beyond the branch tips. Some trees have a tap root that reaches down as far as 15 feet with each root being covered with thousands of root hairs that make it easier to soak up water and dissolved minerals that come from the soil. You can easily say that the majority of the root system is located in the upper 12 to 18 inches of the soil. Why? That’s because the oxygen that roots require to function properly is the most abundant in that area.

The trunk, or stem, of the tree supports the crown. It also gives the tree its shape and strength. Did you know the trunk consists of four layers of tissue? Well, it does. These layers contain a network of tubes running between the roots and the leaves. They act as the central plumbing system for the tree. How? Well, the tubes carry water and minerals up from the roots all the way to the leaves. These same tubes also carry sugar down from the leaves to the branches, trunk and roots to make sure the tree is properly fed.

We hope that, by learning this bit of tree biology, that you can better understand your trees and take better care of them. If you are having any difficulties with your trees, we encourage you to contact us at Austin Tree Service. We can be reached at 512-341-8888 by phone or info@keepaustingreen.com by email. We are always happy to hear from you.

 

Basics Behind Root Rot

rootrotRoot rot is a common disease that can affect your trees if they’re not drained properly. Root rot thrives on moisture. It happens more often to trees that are older or have sustained a root or basal injury. Trees with this disease are less likely to tolerate extreme weather conditions like drought, long periods of rain and high temperatures.

A tree with root rot usually has a combination of identifying factors such as:

  • Crown dieback,
  • Loss and/or discoloration of foliage,
  • And a generally unhealthy appearance.

Internally, the trees with root rot will have patterns of discoloration and decay. A diseased tree can live for years with the condition and without symptoms. Usually, trees with extensive root rot die in several years. Fungal conks, aka mushrooms growing from the base of a tree, are a strong indication that a tree is suffering from root rot. Excess water usually makes it difficult for trees to get the air that they need. This causes them to decay.

You can’t really treat root rot. The most common ‘treatment’ is prevention. Try to prevent root damage or wounds to the lower trunks of trees. Keep them from being overwatered. If you do want to plant a tree in an area where trees had died of root rot, you will want to remove the stumps of those trees and roots. This will reduce local fungus spread to the new tree. You can also consider soil sterilization with an appropriate pesticide such as our arborist can suggest for you.

If you’ve had root rot in the area and want to plant a tree, it’s best to contact Austin Tree Service so our ISA certified arborist can make sure the area is disease-free. If you suspect your tree has root rot, we can also check that out and make a determination of what the best course of action for your tree is. Please call us at 512-341-8888 if you suspect that root rot has infected any of your trees.

Characteristics of the Oak Tree

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The mighty oak tree is the national tree of the United States. In 2004, Congress passed legislation naming it as such. The tree belongs to the beech family and is broad-leaved deciduous tree. They are considered to be one of the best shade trees. Oak trees produce fruit in the form of acorns, which Native Americans use to make flour and squirrels use as food.

The oak tree reaches a mature height of 50 to 70 feet and most oak trees are adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions. These trees are generally pest and disease-free. Galls often appear on the leaves and stems, but they are usually harmless.

The leaves of the oak tree have a single elliptical shape and vary in size from two to five inches in length. They rarely exceed two inches in width. The upper part of the leaf is dark green and has a shiny texture. The bottom part of the leaf is dull gray in tone and has a leathery feel. In the fall, oak leaves, in some areas of the country, are known to turn beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow.

Even though oaks rarely get diseased, there are some oak diseases you might want to be on the lookout for. Sudden Oak Death is an aggressive disease that kills an oak rather quickly. It’s a fungus that causes cankers to form on the tree trunk. If it’s left untreated, the cankers can bleed and spread the disease to other parts of the tree. Oak Wilt occurs in the United States where it’s considered a very serious tree illness. This fungus damages leaves and can spread from tree to tree by connected root systems. Finally, there’s Shoe String Rot. This is caused by a soil-based fungus. It attacks the oak tree from the bottom up. The disease moves through the roots and up to the heart of the tree, where it can eventually kill it.

Mature oak trees have high water consumption. They can draw nearly 50 gallons of water daily through their roots. They need to be well watered. You don’t have to plant them in sites that drain well. The excess water is good for them. Oak trees have extensive taproots and they can compensate for any water shortages by getting water from underground sources.

Oak trees are known as being easy to care for. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can neglect it. To maintain a healthy oak tree, you should consider doing the following:

  • Keep the tree’s root system well-hydrated, especially when it gets hot in the summer,
  • Don’t plant oak trees near buildings or other trees because its large roots can affect drainage and even tear up sidewalks,
  • Don’t overwater an oak tree because excess water can lead to root rot,
  • Add chipped bark mulch to the base of the tree to protect the soil,
  • And don’t over prune an oak tree because the exposure of interior branches to direct sun can damage them.

Oak trees are beautiful trees and they can provide a lovely addition to your property. You just need to care for them properly. If you have any questions on proper oak tree care, contact Austin Tree Service at 512-341-8888.