Taking care of your trees extends the life of the tree, adds property value and increases safety for your home and or environment. The benefits of trees range from purifying our air, helping to mediate water run off, and can dramatically increase efficiency in cooling and heating your home. Also they provide wildlife habitat and give us a more pleasant place to live.
Posts tagged: arborist
Ball Moss is a small epiphyte commonly found on limbs of live oaks and other trees in central Texas. Ball moss is not a moss as the name would suggest, but a plant in its own right with flower and seeds, in the bromeliad family.
Epiphytes are non parasitic plants that place false roots to aerial structures such as tree trunks, tree limbs, and even non organic places such as power lines or a fence. The false roots do not actually perform like true roots which uptake water and minerals. If non parasitic, homeowners often ask why it is commonly found on dead or declining branches. This is because ball moss favours an environment with low sunlight and adequate humidity which happens to be in the interior of a tree canopy. While the interior of a canopy is favourable to epiphytes, it is also an area where conditions are not ideal for photosynthesis and healthy tree growth, thus the presence of dead and dying branches. Live oaks in particular, with their thick layering canopies, provide an ideal environment where ball moss can thrive.
If the presence of this epiphyte is light to moderate, it is a question of aesthetics, which can easily be addressed with periodic removal of dead wood. Pruning dead wood will typically reduce ball moss infestation by 70% to 80%. If the presence of ball moss is heavy or extends to outer parts of the canopy it can reduce airflow and block sunlight, thus inhibiting new growth. Therefore a more thorough reduction of ball moss may be required to ensure the health of the host tree. This can only be achieved by your certified arborist climbing the outer portions of the canopy and hand picking the ball moss. While spraying baking soda or Kocide 101 has proved effective in killing ball moss, it doesn’t physically remove it from the tree. This can be both unsightly and often become a host and nesting ground for unwanted insects.
Ball moss will never be permanently eradicated but proper pruning and regular mainetnance on your trees will ensure it’s population is kept under control. If you have any additional questions or need an on site visit from one of our ISA certified arborists please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Homeowners often hear conflicting information about what kind of pruning can be performed at what time of the year. Part of the confusion is related to the pruning of live oaks and red oaks because of the risk of oak wilt transmission, which will be specifically addressed in the next blog.
Pruning can be broadly divided into two kinds, removal of dead branches and removal of green branches. Pruning dead tissue out of a tree (often referred to in the industry as “deadwooding”), regardless of species, when cuts are done correctly at the branch collar by an ISA certified arborist, is fine to do year round as the cut is brought back to non conductive tissue where it won’t negatively affect the health of the tree. Infact, removing dead wood from about 2″ in diameter and larger is greatly beneficial as the tree can avoid using it’s resources trying to grow callous wood to absciss the dead branch on its own.
Pruning green tissue on a tree is more complex and different factors need to be kept into consideration, mainly the age of the tree and the amount of green branches that need to be removed. Also the species and the condition of the tree are important factors but for the sake of making this blog clear and concise we have to speak in general terms, so consulting with an arborist is often necessary. Mature trees are fairly intolerant to having green tissue removed and there should always be a reason to prune in the first place, whether to reduce or remove a hazardous limb, remove a rubbing branch or to clear the canopy for structures, roadways and driveways. If the amount of branches is moderate this can be done year round, if more extensive work is needed it is best to do it when the tree’s vascular system is at it’s slowest. This happens when outdoor temperatures are at extremes, when any part of the day is in the low nineties and above or below the mid forties, typically our summers and short lived winters. Pruning at these times of the year greatly reduces negative impact on the tree and avoids excessive stimulation of epicormic sprouts. The same temperature parameters apply to to young trees but larger amounts of green tissue can be removed in one growing season without damaging the tree’s health, making it an ideal age for pruning for good structure thus avoiding future problems and being forced to remove larger amounts of green as the tree matures.
I would like to reiterate that these are general guidelines and each individual tree needs to be examined carefully before deciding what kind of pruning needs to be performed and when to do it. Don’t hesitate to call your arborist for advice.
Mistletoe is a hemi-parasitic plant in the order Santalales that lives within the branches of a tree. Many different species of tree host mistletoe, here in central Texas it is most commonly found in cedar elms, hackberries, mesquite and red oaks. It often goes unnoticed by homeowners as the mistletoe leaves can be confused with those of the host tree but, as all our local host trees are deciduous and the mistletoe is evergreen, it is very easy to spot in the winter months.
Mistletoe seeds are mostly spread by bird excrement. Once the seed is deposited on the branch the mistletoe will start using the host tree for water and minerals severely depleting the hosts resources. Damage is also done to the branch structure of the host tree, accelerating decay and weakening the wood, which eventually can lead to branch failure.
There is no known solution to eradicating mistletoe from trees once the infection begins but the damage can be drastically reduced by having it periodically removed by your ISA certified arborist as maintenance pruning is being performed in the host tree. The mistletoe will resume sprouting usually within a year but its development has been greatly reduced much to the benefit of the infected tree.