Category Archives: News & Information
Summer Reading and Trees
If your kids are like mine they are excited to escape far from the confines of the classroom, working hard to forget almost everything they learned. At least you can help them avoid the dreaded brain dump this summer by keeping them reading all summer long. I’m already making plans for my kids for this summer and that includes a summer reading list that has many books about trees on it. Yes, I know I am partial to trees and I love trees. It is one of the reasons I work on a tree farm. There are some great books out there about trees for every age child.
One of my favorite quotes about reading is from Laura Bush, “As parents, the most important thing we can do is read to our children early and often. Reading is the path to success in school and life. When children learn to love books, they learn to love learning.” There are many benefits to reading to your kids. Some of those benefit include setting your children up to succeed, reading develops language skills, it exercising your child’s brain, enhances concentration, encourages a thirst for knowledge, a range of books teaches children about different topics (like trees), develops a child’s imagination and creativity, books are a form of entertainment and can be read anywhere ( like under a tree)and my most favorite reason why reading to child is so amazing, it helps create a bond. As a busy mom, it has always been a way for me to wind down with my son at night. I have always tried to remember, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” Emile Buchwald.
I asked some of our kids here at the Tree Farm whose parents work here, what some of their favorite tree books were and here are some of the answers I got. I think a lot of these books are great reads and I encourage you to read them with your kids.
- The Lorax – Garrett, age 11
- The Giving Tree – Chase, age 14
- Chica Chica Boom Boom – Miles age 4
- Go Dog Go – Natalie age 6
- Winnie the Poo – Eve age 14
- Secrets of the Apple Tree – Finley age 1
- One Tree – River age 3
- The Magic Maple Tree – Kaitlyn age 13
- The Tree Lady – Grey age 12
I also love the idea of creating a Reading-Friendly Environment. Barnes and Noble explains, to keep kids reading, you need to remove as many barriers to reading as you can. That means having books at the ready for kids when they want one, and having a comfortable, quiet place where they can lose themselves in a book. As summer starts, you can work with them to create a little reading nook, with stacks of books and comfy pillows. You can also designate a night as a “screen free” night, in which everyone in the house (including you) must do an activity that doesn’t involve a screen. This took awhile for my kids to get use to but once we started the screen free activity night at our home, reading took off.
If you are looking for some great Tree book reading list, here are three places I recommend you go to find some great books to read.
Happy Reading…. Don’t forget the Tree Books….
Summer Tree Care Checklist
Summer is here and our trees should be full of leaves this time of year. Now is the time to consider tree maintenance to prevent damages from storm events.
- Tree Pruning & Supplemental Support Systems
Contact an arborist to evaluate your trees for pruning. A qualified arborist should be able to identify risk associated with structural defects. Prune to remove and/or reduce over extended branches that may fail or break off during a storm event. Install supplemental support systems (cabling, bracing, propping) to reduce branch or tree failure potential. Remember, this should only be conducted under the supervision of a qualified arborist.
Fertilizing trees is a good thing in most cases. We recommend fertilizing new trees and trees in poor vigor. If you have goals for a tree to grow into a large shade tree, fertilizing will improve growth.
- Pest Management
Contact a qualified certified arborist to evaluate your trees for pest and diseases. Watch for harmful insects and pathogens that may attack your trees.
- Tree Removal
Remove hazardous trees to mitigate risk associated with failure and impact.
- Irrigation Management
Contact a licensed irrigator to inspect your irrigation system. Make sure that it is working properly. If you have poor coverage, broken heads or lateral lines, this could cause harm to your trees. Also, setup your controllers to properly water your tree. If you are concern about how often and how much you should water your tree, contact a certified arborist.
Walk around your garden on a weekly basis throughout the summer to ensure that you are trees and shrubs are healthy. If you see anything out of the ordinary, you should reach out to a professional.
If you have any questions about your trees, feel free to contact the professionals at Fannin Tree Farm. Our number is 972-747-9233 and we have a team of arborist ready to serve.
What is the Water Smart Tax Holiday?
Established in 2016, the Lawn & Garden Water Smart Tax Holiday was created to encourage responsible water use in Texas. During the Memorial Day Weekend event, certain water saving products are tax-free!
When is the Water Smart Tax Holiday?
The tax-free holiday falls on Memorial Day Weekend from Saturday, May 26 to Monday, May 28.
What water smart item qualify for the tax-free exemption?
Here are the categories of products that qualify for the sales tax exemption
- Watersense Products: Any product tax free that displays a WaterSense label or logo whether for personal or business purposes.
- Water-Conserving Products: Consumers can also purchase certain water-conserving products tax free. Unlike WaterSense-labeled items, these items are only exempt when purchased for use at a residential property.
- Water Conservation Items: These would include items used or planted to conserve or retain groundwater, recharge water tables, or to decrease the ambient air temperature, limiting water evaporation
Here are some examples of items that qualify for the exemption:
- Soaker or drip-irrigation hoses
- Moisture control for a sprinkler or irrigation system
- Rain barrels or an alternative rain and moisture collection systems
- Permeable ground cover surfaces that allows water to reach underground basins, aquifers or water collection points
- All plants, trees and grasses
- Water-saving surfactants
- Soil and compost
What items do not qualify for the tax-free exemption?
Examples of items that do not qualify for the exemption include:
- Construction/building materials
- Awnings and other items used to create shade
- Air conditioners
- Ceiling fans
Fannin Tree Farm is proud to be part of this annual event and help conserve one of our most precious and limited resources in Texas: water.
Fannin Tree Farm – Holiday Weekend Hours:
Saturday 5/26/18: 9am – 5pm
Sunday 5/27/18: 1pm to 5 pm
Monday (Memorial Day) 5/28/18: 10am – 3pm
Have you ever notice a white powdery substance on your leaves? This may be Powdery Mildew. This disease can impair the photosynthetic process, stunt leaf growth and cause early defoliation.
Powdery Mildew has fungal hyphae on the leaf surface in the spring and uses specialized absorption cells (haustoria) to obtain nutrition from the host plant. The pathogen uses enzymes to break down the structural components of leaves.
At Fannin Tree Farm we apply preventative fungicides to trees with a history of Powdery Mildew to prevent development of Asci Spores enclosed in these dark colored fruiting bodies known as Chasmothecium. This prevents the pathogen from overwintering in the bark of trees and may prevent future development.
If you would like to have one our trained arborist evaluate your trees, call us to setup an appointment. We have the diagnostic skills to protect your trees!
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 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 specialists. We have a great team of knowledgeable experts that are ready to help you find trees that will last for generations, 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.