Category Archives: News & Information
Ground Breaking News! It’s Earth Day!
Earth Day is just around the corner, and as an arborist I want to take some time to reflect on the positive benefits of trees and share some things I like to do to care for our terrestrial home.
A tree is an incredible specimen of the earth. Large, stately oaks arise from small acorns often overlooked in the floors of forests and crunched by our feet on sidewalks all around us. Imagine what a summer in Texas would be like without these champions of the landscape! Trees provide shade, but also so much more. Retaining large trees in residential and commercial urbanized areas can reduce cooling costs and sequester carbon, filtering the air we breathe and reducing pollutants around us. Trees also intercept and slow down rainfall, allowing the ground and surrounding landscape to capture more water, reducing not only runoff and stormwater but assisting in lowering water bills.
Trees also provide emotional benefits. Many studies have shown that trees and greenspaces can assist with overall quality of life, improving health and happiness, reducing crime, and even providing gathering spaces for humans to fellowship under. Native American tribes would often use large trees as designated meeting areas, such as the Council Oaks and Treaty Oak in Austin. Specifically, the Comanches would even go so far as to modify young saplings to become “marker trees”. These trees would be bent and staked down with yucca rope, pointing out directions as a compass (due north) or even pointing towards important resources such as rivers for low water crossings and a water source. Trees are often a source of food. Here in Texas we know all about the delicious kernels of the pecan tree! In the tropics, the Coconut Palm tree is a source of food, drink, oil, fiber materials, and many other products of economic importance.
Earth day is about more than just trees though. Trees are just one part of the equation. Earth Day is about what we can do to better care for our earth, our home. Planting a tree or two is certainly beneficial, but I consider the whole ecosystem and surrounding environment. Some simple ways to care for the earth include recycling your plastic waste, such as reusing plastic containers that are in good condition or reusing those plastic bags we all get from the grocery store. Also consider supporting local farmers and producers, which benefits those around you, as well as the local economy. Sourcing locally can also reduce our carbon footprints over time. If you cook often (as I do), you can save your fruit, vegetable, eggshell, and other scraps to make compost. Compost is a great way to reduce your input into landfill waste and improve the soil in your garden. Compost added to garden soils will provide something for native beneficial microbes to break down and over time improve soil structure. You may choose to start a simple pile in your backyard, or venture into other realms, such as vermicomposting, using every healthy soil’s favorite invertebrate: earthworms!
Consider what you can do for our terrestrial home. Plant a tree (we know some great folks who can help you with that…), reuse your plastic materials, start a compost pile, source food and beverages locally when possible, the list goes on! Happy Earth Day!
Earth Day Network. “Restoring the Urban Tree Canopy”. 2018. https://www.earthday.org/campaigns/reforestation/restoring-urban-tree-canopy/ Accessed 05 April 2018.
Houser, Steve, et al. “Comanche Marker Trees of Texas”. College Station, Texas. Texas A&M Press. 2016.
Texas Forest Service. “Famous Trees of Texas”. 2012. http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu/websites/FamousTreesOfTexas/TreeLayout.aspx?pageid=16138. Accessed 05 April 2018.
Thrive Advance – Evergreen Conifer Care Program
Now that spring is here, and the plants are lush and green, the new succulent foliage is prime for insects and diseases. When the weather is cool and moist, the disease pressure is highest. It’s important to maintain good sanitation and properly care for your trees. Our Thrive Advance – Evergreen Conifer Care Program is designed to prevent and manage populations of insects and diseases of Italian Cypresses, Pines, and other juniper like species.
Evergreen conifers make up a large group of trees. In North Texas this is primarily junipers, cypresses, and pines. The most common evergreen conifer trees planted in the DFW are Italian Cypress, Eldarica Pines, Arborvitae, and Eastern Redcedars. These trees host to many pathogens. I would say the most sensitive is the Italian Cypress, followed by the Eldarica Pines.
The Italian Cypresses have been in decline for the past couple of years. This is most likely due to the rapid fall in temperatures and prolonged winter freezing temperatures. These freezes can kill off living tissue, providing a site for the infection, also known as a disease court. Fungal spores can enter the plant through injuries and infect the plant. The damage is accelerated by other pests, such as spider mites and bagworms. Over time, cankers develop, spores are splashed to nearby infection courts, and diseases can spread like a wildfire.
The Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic at Texas A&M University has not been able to isolate a single pathogen that contributed to the species decline. Seiridum canker, Botryosphearia canker, Cercospora blight, and Phomopsis blight were the most common diseases found killing cypresses and juniper species. The optimal temperatures for these pathogens are around 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pines in the DFW can be the host to a few pathogens as well. The two most common pine diseases in North Texas are Diplodia Tip Blight (Sphaeropsis sapinea) and Dothistroma needle blight (Dothistroma septosporum). Other diseases that we have identified include Pitch Canker (Fusarium circinatum).
Regular applications of fungicides, insecticides, and miticides is the best chemical management of the pathogens listed above. These products should reduce the disease inoculum and lessen the amounts of infections that occur. Diseased branches should be removed back into living tissue. We sanitize our tools between each cut at Fannin Tree Farm.
We find it helpful to get to know your tree species. Most of these evergreen conifers are dry climate species. This meaning they do not prefer prolong periods of soil saturation. Make sure that your irrigation controller is turned off before, during and after a rain event. Waterlogged soils can be favorable to Phytophthora, a root rot pathogen. If the soil has a foul odor, a soil applied fungicide with mefenoxam may be necessary.
Watering these Italian Cypresses and Pines can be tricky when you have a landscape with a mixed water requirement. Improving drainage and modifying irrigation systems may be necessary when you are growing these trees in your garden. Also seek advice from professionals like certified arborist, horticulturist, and licensed irrigators.
If you have evergreen-conifers, contact Fannin Tree Farm to see how we can develop a custom program for your trees. Our team of certified arborist is trained to identify these pests and prescribe treatments. Contact us today at 972-747-9233.
Soil Management – Assessment, Modification and Fertilization
Managing trees in urban areas is more than adding fertilizer and pruning. It requires an understanding of soil physical and chemical properties. This information is necessary to develop a plan for ongoing care and management. Available resources, such as certified arborist, professional agronomist, local extension specialist, soil web survey, and soil testing laboratories should be consulted with to develop soil maintenance programs.
Soil modification is the physical or chemical altering of soils to improve conditions for growing plants. Aerating, tilling, composting, mulching, and fertilizing, are a few practical ways to modify soil. Positive actions to modify soil will almost always lead to plant response. Managing trees in urban areas should be thought as a long-term commitment. This may require multiple applications of various fertilizers and organic residues, over many years.
The Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS), Soil Web Survey has one of the best resources on soil data, mapping, chemical and physical properties. Professionals use this resource to understand soil characteristics and limitations that may restrict growth. Large stature trees should be planted in areas that are suitable for long-term sustainability. Often tree growth is limited by soil quality and space.
Accredited soil testing laboratories can analyze soil chemical properties and provide detailed information and recommendations for plant nutrition. It is important to consult with a professional agronomist, or certified arborist who specializes in soil and plant nutrition, prior to modifying soils. A standard soil test is used to evaluate soil exchange capacity, pH and nutrient levels. Advance testing, such as saturated paste test is sometimes necessary to determine the availability of nutrients in soil solution.
It is very helpful to have a standard test and a saturated paste test for the same site, especially when dealing with poor site conditions. Landscapes that are highly disturbed, irrigated with well water, or in areas near recent road salt applications, would be candidates for both testing methods.
Interpreting soil test requires training. Some laboratories will provide fertilizer recommendations that may seem excessive. For this reason, it is best to consult with a local practitioner that can interpret the information provided by the laboratory, and make reasonable applications.
The American National Standard Institute (ANSI), A300-Part 2, Soil Management standard is a reference for professionals. An arborist with a good understanding of soil fertility is able to interpret the ANSI standards. It is important to follow the standard while making fertilizer recommendations. For instance, the ANSI standard states that fertilizers with 50% water insoluble nitrogen, should be preferred. Also, fertilizers with less than 50% salt index, should be preferred.
Prior to fertilizing trees, it is important to understand your soils and its limitations. Nutrient deficiencies should be addressed using products that are designed for the specific task. Applications using liquid humates, fluvic acids, seaweed extracts and other trending methods for fertilizing trees should only be used as an additive. In order to carry out biological processes, plants require appropriate amounts of specific nutrients. These trending methods have not been proven to correct nutrient deficiencies.
Always address site conditions that may inhibit plant growth. Tools such as a pneumatic air-spade can reduce soil compaction levels. Adding soil amendments, such as compost and peat moss will improve soil aggregation and biological activity. Mulching soils around trees will reduce further compaction and improve water retention.
It is preferable to use native compost and mulch. Native mulches have been demonstrated to increase populations of beneficial organisms (antagonistic pathogens). Many harmful plant pathogens are considered opportunistic. These beneficial microorganisms found in native mulches are effective in reducing populations of opportunistic pathogens.
Soil web survey can provide information about the soil depth and volume that is not easily seen from above ground. Soil depth may be the limiting factor for growing trees in a certain area. Large stature trees require more soil volume to reach its maximum potential. In shallow soils, where bedrock is within the top 10-15 inches, plant growth is greatly limited. Plant growth is reduced when root development is restricted (e.g., parking islands, street planters).
Remembrance and Celebration Trees
When I think about Trees, one of the things that fascinates me the most is their incredible potential for longevity. While there are a few short-lived trees, many of your “normal,” Texas native trees outlive the average person by fifty to a hundred years. And this doesn’t even consider the extraordinary, ancient trees that live a thousand years or more—in fact, some of the oldest living organisms on earth are trees. Knowing this, it makes sense that people in many cultures throughout history have been drawn to the planting of trees to mark significant occasions or cultural rite of passages in our lives, or to honor, celebrate, or remember a loved one.
I often find myself wondering what to give as a gift to celebrate milestones like a birthday, new birth or adoption, wedding, employee recognition, retirements and graduations. Planting trees on someone’s behalf is a great way to honor them – and since trees provide so many natural benefits, it is a gift that keeps on giving. Trees clean our air, absorbing harmful carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. They help to clean water for the millions of Americans who depend on a tree every time they turn on their faucets.
When I lost my son, Richard Carol, I wanted something that would continue to grow and bloom every season that was in memory of him and to commemorate his short life. I found myself drawn to a memorial tree for him as a meaningful way to remember and honor him. I did not realize it then, but I have been able to experience the joy of watching the tree grow and knowing it is in his memory for many years now and for many more to come.
When memorial trees are planted in honor of a person who has passed away, these memorial trees sometimes have plaques with the honoree’s name, birth and death dates, or a short motto. Fannin Tree Farm provides a certificate of remembrance on all of our memorial and celebration trees. Memorial trees can be planted with or without the person’s ashes. Some people may choose to select a tree in a park where groves of trees are planted in memoriam. Some families prefer to plant the tree on private property — at the family home or place of personal meaning. Wherever you choose to plant your memorial tree, the practice can be very healing as a life-affirming way to remember and honor a loved one, as it has for me.
Not only are trees a wonderful gift of celebration and remembrance but some people choose to plant a tree for other celebration and memorial events. Some plant trees for each of their children. Some plant a tree in honor of building or moving into a new home. Another wonderful idea that’s gained popularity is a wedding unity tree ceremony, where the bride and groom combine the soil from each of their homes into the pot of a single tree, then plant it in their new home in honor of their marriage. What a great symbol for a couple’s growing love. The traditional gift for the fifth anniversary is wood. The wood symbolizes a relationship that has become solid and long-lasting, representing the growing strength of the marriage bond. Still others find trees they plant to be the perfect lasting, living memorial to someone they have lost.
In honor of a parent who has passed away, one might plant an oak tree where, when it becomes older, they might visit to sit peacefully in its shade and feel connected to their loved one. After losing a pet that was part of the family for many years, planting a tree in their favorite spot in the yard is a good way to remember them. After all, they carved out a special place in our hearts and in our lives. These are just a few of the reasons people plant a celebration or memorial tree.
Fannin Tree Farm would love to help you commemorate a special occasion, celebration or loss in your life or your family’s life. Come in and talk to one of our tree specialists to learn more about the native trees we carry. Fannin has an assortment of tree sizes starting in 30-gallon containers to commemorate these celebration and memorial events in your life.
Selecting Trees and Ongoing Management
Planting a tree is more than digging a hole and setting a tree. It requires proper selection and planning. A tree that is planted in the correct location, can be one of the most valuable assets in your garden. If properly cared for, the tree will provide many benefits that could be shared from one generation to the next. When selecting trees, it’s important to know what you are trying to achieve.
The first thing to do, it to assess your site.
- What type of soil do you have?
- Do you have enough space to plant a tree in the location you are considering?
- Does this location have good drainage?
- How far away from the foundation am I am going to plant this tree?
- How much sunlight does this location receive?
- Are there any overhead utility lines that may limit your tree selection?
- Are there any site restrictions?
- If planting in the back garden, how wide are my gates? Can I remove my fence to allow for a larger tree?
Once you have assessed your site, consider what you are trying to achieve.
- Fall color
- Wind break
When planting a tree in a specific location, ask a tree specialist about the size of the tree at maturity. If planting multiple trees, consider spacing the trees 25 to 30 feet apart. If you are planting a large stature tree, try to plant about 25-feet away from your foundation or more.
Now that you have assessed your site and know what you are trying to achieve, its time to take some photos of the planting location. Bring these photos into a nursery and discuss your objectives with a tree specialist.
While meeting with a tree specialist, ask them to show you trees that are best suited for your site, that also achieve your goal. We advise our clients to ask us about the species and watering requirements. It is good to know if the tree you are considering is a dry climate, moist environment, or moderate water loving species? You may also ask if this tree will grow in my soils? Some trees prefer well drained soils, so planting a dry climate species in a location that stays wet, might not be the best idea. If you have a soil with a high pH, consider a tree that will grow in an alkaline soil.
While at the nursery, assess the tree before you make a decision. Look at the base of the tree to inspect the root collar. This is sometimes referred to as the root flare. It should resemble the base of a wine glass that tapers outward.
If you are looking for an upright tree, evaluate the tree for good branch structure. A tree with a central leading branch is a good indicator it will grow upright. Then assess the trunk to make sure there are no major scars or damages that jeopardize the health of the tree.
If you are looking to plant a tree for aesthetics, consider the orientation of the tree. Make sure the tree will fit the space. While trees like Live Oaks and Chinese Pistache, are naturally oriented to grow wide. Then there are trees like Red Oaks, Cedar Elms and Hybrid Maples that grow upright and provide height in your garden. Remember to look for overhead utility lines. If you have power lines that are located above the planting location, consider planting a small or medium size tree.
Sometimes we plant trees for shading a home to reduce energy bills. If this is the case, consider planting the tree on the west side of the home. You may consider a deciduous tree (drops its leaves in the winter) to reduce the amount of energy used to heat your home.
Last but not least ask the tree specialist for a watering and care guide. Thoroughly review the guide and discuss any areas of concern with the specialist. If you are confused about ongoing care for your tree, consider hiring a certified arborist for tree maintenance.
At Fannin Tree Farm we have a large inventory of trees of trees that grow well in the Dallas-Fort Worth and surrounding areas. Come by and see our selection and meet with one of our tree specialist. We have a great team of knowledgeable experts that are ready to help you find trees that will last for generations.
We also offer a comprehensive list of tree services. If you are interested in meeting with an arborist, contact us at 972-747-9233.
Fire Blight on Ornamental Pears
February is here and we are fast approaching spring. Most of us are working hard to reach our new year goals. We may even be planning big things, such as Valentine’s day. This time of year, couldn’t be busier for families with school and extracurricular activities. In the midst of all of this busyness, Fannin Tree Farm wants to remind you to think about your trees.
In the month of February, some trees are preparing to bloom. Buds are swelling in preparation for spring. Ornamental Pears, which include Bradford, Cleveland, and Aristocrat Pears to name a few, are ready to flower. Around the third week of February, these pears will provide a floral display that is not easily match, especially for the time of year.
This display is short-lived, approximately 3-to-4 weeks long. While it is when the tree is most beautiful, it is also when the tree is most vulnerable. A bacterium referred to as Fire Blight (Erwinia amylovora) often infects the tree by entering the blooms. This floral infection is very destructive as it develops throughout the tree.
Luckily, there are management practices that have been demonstrated to be effective in suppressing these infections. Our best method for preventing Fire Blight is sanitation pruning.
At Fannin Tree Farm we use Lysol to clean our tools after removing infected plant parts. This reduces the inoculum and prevents further disease spread throughout different parts of the tree.
We also provide weekly spray treatments using antibiotics and bactericides. These treatments are very effective if applied weekly, during the flowering period.
After it’s all said and done, the flowers are gone, an untreated flowering pear, may now be infected. This pathogen over-winters, in canker sites on branches throughout the crown. It is spread by splashing water and facilitated by pollinating insects, such as honey bees. Time will tell if an untreated tree is infected.
In the late spring, early summer, an infected tree should show signs of this disease. Brown, blighted shoot tips will wilt rapidly. This blighted shoot is referred to as, “shepherd’s crook.” At the beginning of the disease development, leaves on the diseased shoots show a blackening along the midrib and veins.
Later, as the disease progresses in the plant, it develops in the water conducting tissue. The bacterium multiplies, reducing the translocation of water and nutrients, and causes cracks in the bark that appear to be sunken on the surface. An amber-colored bacterial ooze may be identified on the bark. A brown-to-black discoloration of the wood beneath the bark may help identify the disease.
You may ask, can an infected tree still be managed? The answer depends on the severity of the infection. A young, healthier, flowering pear may be able to live with this disease for a few years. While an older tree may see rapid decline.
We always recommend sanitation pruning to prevent the disease spread. Appropriate amounts of fertilizer will help the plant maintain vigorous growth and prevent susceptibility to branch cankers. Other treatments using antibiotics and bactericides have been demonstrated to suppress the expression of the disease. We recommend spray applications during the blooming period, but sometimes micro injection through the root flare, or lower trunk may be necessary.
The best way to manage this disease is through prevention. The best time to develop a plan is now. If you would like a free consultation with one of our Certified Arborist, please contact us today at 972-747-9233.
Texans have a certain affinity for all things Texas, and taking pride in everything related to our great state. As an arborist who is also a native Texan, I am no different. Texas lays claim to many large, beautiful and famous trees, most of which are Live Oaks (Quercus virginiana) or closely related. Of course, we can’t forget about the state tree, the Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) and the part it plays in some of our great state’s history.
One particular tree of note is “The Big Tree”, or it may also be known by some as the Goose Island Oak, found at Goose Island State Park in Rockport, Texas. This tree is thought to be at least 1,000 years old, and has survived many hurricanes. Another notable Live Oak is the Century Tree, the famous tree on the campus of Texas A&M University. It is thought to have been planted not too long after the university’s establishment, in the late 1800s. It’s no coincidence that many of the historic Texas trees still standing today are live oaks. These trees are often planted for their durability, resilience and beautiful evergreen form.
Naturally, we have to include some of the great historic pecan trees in our list! There is the towering La Bahia Pecan, called as such because it lies along what was once known as ‘La Bahia Road’. This was once a major trade route for Native Americans and settlers in Texas and Louisiana. The road is located in Washington-on-the-Brazos state park, site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence and the historic river ferry crossing where the Navasota and Brazos rivers meet. There is also the San Saba Mother Pecan tree. This tree, still standing in San Saba today, has provided genetic material for many of the popular varieties we have today.
At Fannin Tree Farm, we grow many sizes of beautiful Live Oaks. Come in today to choose a beautiful and resilient tree of your own, to leave a lasting legacy. We also have a selection of 30-gallon pecan trees. If you already have one of these trees and would like for it to be a standout tree of your own, our tree services team has expert knowledge in the care of all trees. Give us a call at (972) 747-9233 if you would like us to prune your tree, or if you would like more information on our other tree services.
Aggie Century Tree Project. “History”. 2014. https://www.aggiecenturytreeproject.com/. Accessed 08 January 2018.
Bailey, Walt. “Park Pick: Witness to History, Washington-on-the-Brazos evokes the feeling of early Texas through re-enactors and a historic tree”. Texas Parks and Wildlife, January/February 2013. https://tpwmagazine.com/archive/2013/jan/scout4_parkpick_washington/. Accessed 11 January 2018.
Texas Forest Service. “Famous Trees of Texas”. 2012. http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu/websites/FamousTreesOfTexas/TreeLayout.aspx?pageid=16138. Accessed 11 January 2018
Winter Pruning and Tree Care
Winter is here and most of the deciduous trees have shed their leaves. The early January freeze reminded us what a winter is supposed to be like. Trees have an appreciation for a good freeze. For the first time in a couple of years, we have had a freeze that last more than a couple days. This slows down the biological processes of trees and allows them to go into full dormancy. As arborist, we love this time of year as well. We can better see structural defects, mistletoe and perform more invasive tree surgery that we have been holding off, until now. The winter is the perfect time to consider tree pruning and other ways to care for your trees.
Structural Tree Pruning
During the dormant season, we are better able to see and correct structural defects in trees. We have trained our arborist and technicians on how to identify structural defects such as: co-dominant stems, included bark, and poor branch attachments. These defects may lead to tree failures if not corrected.
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that is often identified in Cedar Elms, Hackberries, and many other species of trees. While the trees are dormant, we suggest removing mistletoe prior to blooming to prevent further spread.
The window for pruning oaks is closing soon. We recommend pruning your oaks prior to the middle of February and after the middle of June in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. This is to prevent an established disease known as Oak Wilt.
Supplemental Support Systems in Trees
Since it is easier to see structural defects throughout the tree canopy in the winter, it is the best time to install a supplemental support system. This may include extra-heavy strength cables, bracing rods, or even props for very old, low branching trees. Support systems help trees withstand the high winds, ice and rain that occur throughout the year. Not all trees need supplemental support, but this should be determined by a trained arborist.
Winter Dormant Oil for Trees
Applying an organic winter dormant oil is an environmentally friendly way to reduce insect and mite populations in your garden. Dormant oils have been used for many years as a proactive method to reduce pest populations. These oils suffocate overwintering eggs of destructive pest. The eggs are laid in the cracks and crevices of your trees and shrubs. In the spring they emerge and feed on succulent plant tissue. This treatment greatly reduces plant injury caused by foliar and stem feeding pest.
At Fannin Tree Farm, our tree services team offers comprehensive list of services. If you are interested in meeting with one of our arborist, give us a call at (972) 747-9233.
Tips for Preventing Live Christmas Tree Fires
We may not sell Christmas trees here at Fannin Tree Farm, but we are passionate about the health – and safety – of all trees. And when you bring a live tree into the home like so many do during the holiday season, it’s that much more important to exercise important safety precautions.
Christmas tree fires are thankfully rare in the U.S., with an average of only 200 annually nationwide, but with these basic tips, we can hopefully get that number down to zero.
Keeping Your Trees Healthy This Winter: Maintenance Guide
It’s that time of year again! Our deciduous trees are changing colors and dropping their leaves. Winter is upon us, although it may not always feel like it here in Texas this time of the year. Now is the perfect time to consider protecting your trees from the harsh winds and colder temperatures to come. There are several actions you can take to ensure your trees will be protected during the winter months.