an arborist with gear and tools climbing a tree

Extreme Heat Stresses Texas Trees; Our Arborists Reveal Three Top Tips

From last winter’s damaging ice storms to this summer’s exceptional heat, we’re all experiencing unusual stress. For a lot of us humans, it’s soaring A/C bills and irritating inflation. But other species face different kinds of pressure.

For Central Texas’ trees, it’s been an especially rough year. Whether native, adapted, or otherwise, woody plant species throughout the Austin area have been showing Maas Verde’s arborists that they’re strained.

a redbud branch with one green leaf among wilted leaves

Our founder and president, Ted Maas, didn’t have to look any further than his backyard to see the latest evidence. A substantial cedar elm growing in the southeast corner of the property seemed perfectly healthy and 30-50 years old. It had survived the winter storms without visible damage.

Then under the unrelenting heat dome this July, it started to turn yellow. That initial change in color and a wilting leaf structure tipped Maas off to the tree’s stress. It was conserving water, but under strain.

a yellowing cedar elm branch overhangs a privacy fence

Maas has spent enough time in the climbing harness to identify a tree that needs special care. Though removing limbs was a last resort, it eventually became the only option to maintain public safety on the adjacent road.

Your favorite trees may also be fatigued under this year’s especially scorching Texas sun. And Maas Verde’s in-house experts are here to help them survive the long haul.

An arborist climbing a tree for trimming

With a tree care philosophy that goes beyond grooming or limbing, Maas Verde seeks to promote long-term health in each tree we work with.

‘Lifting’ Limbs

To open a canopy, we won’t just remove low limbs — we’ll look at each limb carefully, then thin it to unburden it.

“It’s usually possible to ‘lift’ a limb rather than take it out,” Maas explains. “Arborists can look for overburdened areas, stems that are growing unhealthily, or dead hangers to remove weight. Sometimes, all you need to do is lighten the load.”

The best trimmers also know how to identify what kind of cut to make depending on which one of the two classifications of limb they’re looking at: a branch, or a co-dominant stem. The two structures have radically different growth tendencies, and it’s important to cut each one the right way to promote healing.

Finally, we apply sealing paint on each live oak and red oak cut during oak wilt season to stop the spread of the fungal disease.

Ground Control

Another commonly misunderstood area of a tree is its base. Most tree species have a distinct structure that marks the bottom of the trunk and the top of the root mass. It’s called the root flare, and to the trained eye, it’s generally visible in the form of a change in bark pattern.

a grove of trees showing root flares

It’s important to understand that conditions on the ground surrounding this area is key to the tree’s health.

For instance, make sure the root flare is exposed to the air, and not covered with mulch. If your tree looks like a fencepost or stick stuck in the ground, dig it out.

As a worst case scenario, the soil can begin to mound up, meaning the tree is trying to fall down. The roots could be decomposing underground, and the tree could need re-rooting.

Various fungal growths can appear on a tree trunk. One Kretzschmaria deusta growth at the base of a hackberry, also in Maas’s backyard, indicated that the tree was likely not only strained, but dying on the spot. It was only a matter of time before it fell over, so our crews removed it promptly.

black fungus growing near a tree's base

In all installs and maintenance projects, Maas Verde works to promote tree health from the ground up.

Rooted to the (Right) Spot

If you’re starting from scratch with a brand new yard or landscape, Maas Verde can also help make sure you’ve got the right tree for your space. We prefer to work with native species and often do, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle.

A small red oak planted in a side yard

“Temperature and moisture will always be critical” to a tree’s adaptation to its specific area, Maas advises.

Different trees grow better under deep shade or full sun; thick clay or sandy loam. A nearby water source like a creek could clearly effect growth. And planting near buried gas or water lines can lead to problems later. Similarly, so can planting a tall, canopy tree under a utility line.

Finally, consider other tree species in your area. Maas Verde always promotes biodiversity, so we typically plant compatible but different species in areas with heavy populations of another specific tree.

Maas Verde remains committed to fostering long-term resource security for our clients and community. With expert plant and tree care no matter the weather, we’re here to help you and your landscape thrive.

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