Famous Trees of Texas – Auction Oaks

Courtesy of TAMU
Courtesy of TAMU

It was January 1839. On the fourteenth of that month, while Houston was still capital of the Republic of Texas, an Act of Congress passed directing Sam Houston’s successor, President Mirabeau B. Lamar, to choose a new site for a new capital of the Republic. The new site was supposed to be between the Trinidad and Colorado Rivers, above the San Antonio Road.

President Lamar chose the Capitol Commission to find just the right spot for the Republic of Texas’ new capital city. They picked the site, then known as Waterloo. It was situated on the east bank of the Colorado River in Bastrop County.

Judge Erwin Waller, who was a veteran of the War for Texan Independence, was appointed as the agent of the Republic. His job was to lay out the capital city. The city would be named after Stephen F. Austin. Judge Waller set aside the most valuable lots for the capital and government buildings. He then sold not more than half of the remaining lots at a public auction.

In May of that same year (1839), the judge and a surveyor by the name of William H. Sandusky went to Austin. They took 200 construction workers with them to build the new capital city. They established two camps. One was on Waller Creek. The other was at George Durham’s spring. Sandusky marked off a square mile, which is the same as 640 acres, on the bluff of gradually rising land. It overlooked the river.

Then, Sandusky got to work on establishing streets and laying out lots. He set aside lots for a hospital, churches and a university. There were also lots for the president’s house, a capitol, government buildings and homes. It was a beautiful little capital that has grown by leaps and bounds into a thriving metropolis today.

In the shade of the live oaks, now known as the Auction Oaks, located in Republic Square near the intersection of 4th and St. Antonio Streets in what is now downtown Austin, they held a public auction for the remaining lots. It was near Durham’s spring at the time.      Sherriff Charles King of Bastrop acted as the auctioneer and sold 301 city lots.  The grand total paid for the lots was $182,585. It was almost enough to pay for the government buildings that were built.

You can see the Auction Oaks in Republic Square. We think they’re beautiful examples of live oaks. If you have a live oak that needs attention, don’t hesitate to contact Austin Tree Service. Our certified arborist would be happy to assist you. We can be reached at 512-341-8888.

Famous Trees of Texas – Goose Island Oak

Big_treeTexas’ largest tree by girth, the Goose Island Oak is located on the Gulf Coast near Rockport, Texas. In the 1960s, this tree, which has been used as a hanging tree, a pirate’s rendezvous and a ceremonial site for the cannibalistic Karankawa Indians, was named the largest live oak in America by the organization American Forests.

Found inside on the Lamar Peninsula within Goose Island State Park, the estimated age of the tree is 1,000 years old. Legend has it that the Goose Island Oak was once a place where the Karankawas, who were cannibalistic, devoured their enemies and members of their own tribe. The fierce Comanche Indians were also reported to use the tree as a rendezvous point.

Earlier visitors to the Goose Island Oak could have included the Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca in 1528 and Sieur de La Salle in 1684. Governor Alonso de Leon arrived in 1689, looking for de La Salle. He found the ruins of St. Louis instead and rescued the only three survivors of La Salle’s colony from the Karankawas.

This large tree is sometimes called the “Bishop’s Tree” because a Catholic bishop’s home or chapel stood nearby in the abandoned town of Lamar. The name “Lamar Oak” was probably taken from the name of the town nearby. Lamar flourished in the 1830s. Now, we know the tree simply as the “Big Tree.”

In 1966, this national champion live oak measured 421 ½ inches in circumference. It was also 44 feet high and had a crown spread of 89 feet. You can find the “Big Tree” at Goose Island State Park near Rockport. There are signs inside the park that direct park visitors to the tree.

As mentioned before, the tree’s age is estimated at over 1,000 years old. However, no sample has been taken. It’s only a matter of time before technology can estimate its actual age. The tree has an unusual branching pattern which is probably related to the near-continuous gulf breeze.

For more information on the Goose Island Oak, you can read up on it on the internet. For help with your existing trees in your yard, please contact us at 512-341-8888. We can help keep your trees healthy and safe.

Famous Trees of Texas – The Treaty Oak

TreatyOakThe once majestic Treaty Oak is located in a small city park in Austin, Texas close to the east bank of the Colorado River. Believed to be more than 500 years old, the Treaty Oak is the only survivor of a group of live oaks, referred to as the “Council Oaks”. Sacred to the Comanche and Tonkowa Indians, these trees saw peace and war parties initiated. Religious ceremonies were held in which the acorns of the tree were used to make a special tea. It was believed that the tea protected warriors in battle.

Legend has it that Stephen Austin signed the first treaty between the Anglos and the Indians, setting up boundaries between the two in the 1830s. At one point, the tree spanned 127 feet in diameter and was a witness to naps, picnics, feasts, proposals, marriages and more. It is believed that Sam Houston sat underneath the tree after he was expelled from the governor’s office at the start of the Civil War.

In 1927, the Treaty Oak was nominated into the American Forests’ Hall of Fame for Trees in Washington, D.C. It was considered the perfect specimen of a North American tree. It had been owned since the 1880s by the Caldwell family. In 1926 W.H. Caldwell’s widow offered the land for sale for $7,000. Finally, in 1937, the City of Austin purchased the land for $1,000 and installed a plaque honoring the tree’s place in Texas history.

In 1989, the Treaty Oak was poisoned by a troubled young man who wanted to hold onto his girlfriend. He thought that if he killed the spirit of the tree the girl would not seek out another man. The poison was a powerful hardwood herbicide called Velpar. Lab tests showed that there was enough herbicide used to kill 100 trees. When people learned that the Treaty Oak was ill, they sprang into action. Former presidential candidate Ross Perot wrote a blank check to fund efforts to save the tree.

The vandal was caught after DuPont, the makers of Velpar, issued a $10,000 reward to capture the poisoner. His name was Paul Cullen and he was sentenced to nine years in prison for his crime. Arborists feared the tree would die; but, with lots of loving care, it survived. Many limbs had to be pruned and the tree is not as big as it once was. However, it’s survived and in 1997 it began to yield acorns again. The acorns were collected and germinated. In 1999, the baby Treaty Oaks found homes in Texas and other states thus ensuring that the Treaty Oak will survive in the future.

Today, the Treaty Oak survives and is a symbol of strength and endurance. It’s estimated that about 1/3 of the original tree remains. What has survived is strong and may thrive for another 500 years. The Treaty Oak is on the east side of Baylor Avenue, between Fifth and Sixth Streets. There’s a marker erected in front of the tree.

Does your tree need some TLC? Contact Austin Tree Service today. We’ll be happy to come out and take a look.

Limiting Damage to Existing Trees during Home or Pool Construction

constructionYou’ve decided to do some construction to your home or pool. You want to ensure that your trees remain safe during this time. In this article, we’ll go over some ways construction can harm your trees and how you can help to prevent that.

How can construction harm my trees?

  1. Construction equipment can injure the above-ground portion of a tree by breaking branches, tearing the bark or wounding the trunk. These types of injuries are permanent and if they are extensive, they can be fatal to the tree.
  2. The digging and trenching associated with construction can often be damaging to roots. The root system of a tree can extend horizontally 1 to 3 times greater than the height of the tree itself. It’s important that the construction crew cut as far away as possible to prevent damage that can compromise the tree’s health and stability.
  3. Heavy construction equipment can cause soil compaction. This is a situation where nutrients can’t get to the tree. It also inhibits root growth, limits water infiltration and decreases the oxygen roots need for survival.
  4. If soil is added during construction this can smother the roots of a tree.

What can I do to protect my trees before and during the construction process?

You can save a lot of time and money if you develop a landscape protection plan before you begin construction. Inventory the trees that are on your site. Record the location, size and health of each tree. Austin Tree Service can help you do this if you so desire. Trees with issues should be marked for removal before construction. Our certified arborist can help you determine if any of your trees need to be removed before you undertake the construction process.

You can protect the trees that you want to save by going over the map with your builder. You should make sure you show the locations of trees to be protected and how they can build around them. Place markers on trees that you want to keep safe during the construction so the crew will know they’re ‘OFF LIMITS’. Provide the trees with as much space as possible so you can protect their root systems.

You should also make sure that your trees are as healthy as possible before construction. Water and fertilize them as necessary. You can also apply a layer of wood chips over areas that will be used for traffic during construction to protect the soil from becoming compacted. Compacted soil keeps nutrients, water and sunlight from getting to the trees’ root systems.

How do I help trees after the construction process is complete?

We suggest you call Austin Tree Service to take a look at your trees and assess the damage, if any. We will provide you with a plan of action to take on any trees that need to be removed or pruned. We are always ready and willing to help. Call us today at 512-341-8888 for more information.

City of Austin Tree Removal Requirements

treesbackyardBefore you remove a tree in your yard, you should familiarize yourself with the City of Austin tree removal requirements. Many trees in Austin are considered ‘protected’. Austin’s tree protection ordinance is pretty complicated. It basically seeks to keep as many trees in Austin as possible.

From the ordinance, a protected, or heritage, tree is:

“HERITAGE TREE means a tree that has a diameter of 24 inches or more, measured four and one-half feet above natural grade, and is one of the following species: (a) Ash, Texas (b) Cypress. Bald (c) Elm, American (d) Elm, Cedar Pagel of 13 (e) Madrone, Texas (f) Maple. Bigtooth (g) All Oaks (h) Pecan (i) Walnut, Arizona (j) Walnut, Eastern Black.”

Before you remove any of these protected trees, you need a Tree Ordinance Review Application to be approved. Removal specifically refers to any action that may reasonably be expected to cause the tree to die. The city arborist must review these applications for protected trees before they can be removed. You will also have to pay a few with the application.

If your tree is not in the above-mentioned list, you can remove the tree without a permit. If you have something wrong with a tree, you are encouraged to consult with a certified arborist like the one we have at Austin Tree Service. The city does not send the city arborist out for all tree problems.

Our arborist can diagnose what’s wrong with your trees and determine if you need to have them removed. We, at Austin Tree, can also help you through the tree ordinance review application if necessary.

Remember if you have a tree in the public Right of Way, these are considered public trees and are regulated by the Public Works Department. Call 311 if you have any questions. Planting or removing trees in the Public Right Away area will require approval by the City of Austin.

If you have any further questions about tree removal in the City of Austin, we suggest you call Austin Tree Service today. We can be reached at 512-341-8888 and we will help you determine the best way to take care of your trees.

Stump Grinding (Part 2)

Stump grinding is a messy job. It should be undertaken by a professional only. Austin Tree Service performs stump grinding services for their clients after a tree removal or for trees we haven’t even removed. If you have a stump that needs grinding, we can do it for you.

If you believe you have utility lines under the stump whether they are water, gas, electrical, etc., you should call 811 at least a few days before the stump grinding. They will coordinate with the utilities and those that are affected by the removal will come out to your property and mark the areas affected with paint (it will wash off with water). This helps us out immensely and allows us to know if a removal can be done. In some cases, the wires may be affected and we can’t risk cutting them.

Stump grinding is usually performed by stump grinding machines. We use stump grinding machines to perform our stump grinding services. Configured with a grinding wheel that has teeth, a stump grinder spins and operates with hydraulics back and forth to slowly grind a tree stump. Stumps are usually ground out to a depth of approximately 2 feet below the ground. It doesn’t take long to do a stump grinding operation. That’s because we are experts in the procedure and have done it many times before.

Sometimes, axes need to be used to get the tree stump out of the ground. If that happens, we are more than capable of using those tools as well. We are well versed in all the processes surrounding stump grinding and you can trust in us to make your stump removal very efficient and well done.

After a stump grinding, shavings and wood chips are left behind. It can be a messy bit of business. Many of our customers wonder who will pick up the mess and are not inclined to have their stumps ground because of the inherent mess. However, we do offer pick up service and we will clean the area for you for a minimal cost. When we come out to estimate the job, we can estimate the clean up as well. Just ask.

You can contact us at 512-341-8888. We will handle the mess of a stump grinding so that you don’t have to. We will take care of everything. We are Austin Tree Service and we are your one-stop shop for all things tree-related.

Stump Grinding (Part 1)

stumpAustin Tree Service offers stump grinding with your tree removal service or after your tree removal service even if we didn’t remove the actual tree. So, what’s stump grinding? Stump grinding is the process of using a stump grinder to remove a tree stump from your property. Professional tree services have professional grade stump grinders. They grind the stump and the roots into small chips. To do it right, a professional will grind down 10 – 12 inches below ground level so you can plant anything you like in its place.

Stump grinding has many benefits. We list five in this article.

  1. Stumps are ugly. The sight of a stump isn’t appealing. If you want your yard to look its best, a good stump grinding will help get it there.
  2. Stumps can be hazardous. Children can trip over them. If a neighbor trips over the stump, you are liable for it. This could lead to a lawsuit if not handled properly. Tree stumps can damage your lawn mower if you happen to go over them by accident while mowing the lawn. Stump grinding can eliminate all of those problems.
  3. A left-behind stump can cause new tree growth. Sometimes, if you leave a stump behind and don’t grind it, you can see little sprouts growing. This can result in many small trees growing around the stump. Not only is this unsightly to your landscaping but it’s also costly to remove. The new shoots might come back. You may need to use chemicals to kill them completely. The small trees are also a nuisance to other plants located near them because they take their nutrients.
  4. Stumps attract insects. When you leave stumps in your lawn, the decaying tree takes a long time to rot away completely. During the decaying process, the stump attracts beetles, termites, ants and more. If left unchecked, they can eventually infiltrate your home.
  5. Stumps take up yard space. Especially if you have a small yard, the stump and roots can take up otherwise useable space. You could use that space for other things like a flower bed or even grass.

As you can see, when you have your tree removed, a good stump grinding should be a part of the process. If you have questions about the process of stump grinding and whether it would be good for your yard, give us a call at 512-341-8888 today. Austin Tree Service is always ready to help.

Tree Planting in Winter

treeplantingWinter is one of the best times to plant a tree in Austin. Tree planting in winter will give you a green spring. Some of the best trees are available at the nursery in winter. All you have to do is look. If you’d like to know what kinds of trees work best in your yard, give us a call at 512-341-8888 and we’ll be happy to tell you what to look for. The important thing to remember is that if you plant your new tree in winter, it will use the winter dormant season to establish new roots. That way – when spring arrives, your tree will be on its way to providing much-needed shade for your yard and home.

A basic guideline for high quality trees is:

  • They have enough sound roots to support healthy growth,
  • They have a single, central trunk or leader,
  • They have a trunk that is free of mechanical wounds and wounds from incorrect pruning,
  • They have a strong form with well-spaced, firmly attached branches,
  • And they have leaves with good color and no obvious insect or disease damage.

You should stick with native varieties of trees to plant. These will need less water and can survive in our 100+ degree summer weather. Some of the best trees to plant in Austin are Bur Oak, Texas Ash and a Pecan tree. Cedar Elm and Chinquapin Oak are also good to plant in the Austin area.

Why Should I Plant a Tree?

Energy Conservation – if you plant your trees strategically on the west, south and east sides of your home, you can reduce cooling costs by up to 50%. Deciduous trees shade your home during the hot summer months and allow sunlight to warm your home during the winter.

Increased Property Value – Having trees in your yard can enhance the economic vitality of your home. They can increase property values by as much as 20%. If you’re looking to sell in the spring or summer, planting a tree in winter will make sure it’s ready by then.

Wildlife Habitat – Trees provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife in urban settings.

Aesthetics – Trees beautify our landscapes. They have also been known to have an impact on our sense of well-being.

Improved Air Quality – Trees act as filters. They trap dust and absorb air pollutants while releasing vital oxygen into the air for us to breathe.

We hope this brief guideline has helped you to understand why planting trees in Austin during the winter are a good practice and how to get the best trees to plant. If you have any questions about tree planting, feel free to contact us at Austin Tree Service. We’re always happy to help.

Austin Tree Service uses a Diesel Exhaust Fluid on its Chipper Trucks

truckAustin Tree Service works hard to be as environmentally friendly as possible. We care about the environment. One of the ways we show that is by using diesel exhaust fluid on our chipper trucks. Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is a non-hazardous solution made up of 32.5% urea and 67.5% de-ionized water.

What is Diesel Exhaust Fluid?

DEF is clear, nontoxic, nonflammable and non-explosive. It’s also sprayed into the exhaust stream of diesel vehicles to break down dangerous emissions into harmless nitrogen and water. The system that does this is called Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) and can be found on 2010 and later model trucks. DEF is not a fuel additive and never comes into contact with the diesel itself. It is stored in a separate tank.

How does Diesel Exhaust Fluid Get into the Truck’s System?

Diesel Exhaust Fluid, as we mentioned before, is stored in another tank, separate from the diesel fuel, on board the vehicle. It’s injected into the exhaust stream by a metering system. The injection rate depends largely on the specific after-treatment system you have. It’s typically 2-6% of diesel consumption volume. The low dosing rate ensures long fluid refill intervals and minimizes the tank’s size. An electronic oil control unit will then adjust the addition of fluid in accordance with parameters as engine operating temperature and speed.

How should you store Diesel Exhaust Fluid?

It’s recommended that DEF be stored in cool, dry and well-ventilated area that is out of direct sunlight. As of 2013, a number of truck stops have added DEF pumps in which diesel exhaust fluid is administered at pumps similarly to diesel and often located adjacent to fuel pumps such that the vehicle operator can fill up on both without moving the truck.

3 Ways Diesel Exhaust Fluid is Good for the Environment

  1. DEF helps eliminate NOx, an element in exhaust that has been blamed for acid rain, smog and raising the overall greenhouse gases on the planet.
  2. DEF won’t evaporate into ammonia unless you get 120 degree days for two years straight. It’s safe.
  3. Urea, the active ingredient in DEF, is used in fertilizers, plastics and animal feed. It’s less toxic than other fluids in a truck including the seemingly innocuous windshield washing fluid.

Austin Tree Service takes the environment seriously. We care about it and you. Give us a call today and know that we are a green company. You can feel good about using us for all your tree care needs.

Proper and Safe Tree Removal

treeremovalaustinWhen performing a tree removal in Austin, you must make sure it’s done in a proper and safe manner. We, at Austin Tree Service, have a certified arborist on staff to help ensure that this happens. First, we will come out and assess your tree. We will analyze your tree and tell you what needs to be done. We don’t undertake a tree removal Austin unless it is absolutely necessary. We do all we can to save your trees.

However, should it become apparent that you need a tree removal we will tell you the cost and give you information on how we are going to do the Austin tree removal. We want you to be informed about your tree removal Austin. It’s not safe for you to consider removing the tree yourself. It’s a dangerous job even for the expert. That’s why you need someone like us who understands how trees are best removed.

One of the main dangers associated with tree removal Austin are the tools. We use chainsaws and wood chippers. Even the smallest of distractions could cause serious damage in seconds. Our tree removal specialists wear proper clothes and take precautions to make sure we don’t get hurt. We are also licensed and insured. If we get hurt on your property you don’t have to pay for it. We don’t need to tell you that medical expenses can get very expensive if you were to get hurt while trying to do this yourself.

Even with the proper equipment, a tree removal in Austin can be problematic. Weak limbs can lead to falls. They are improper support systems. Another potential problem is electric lines. If someone working on a tree close to power or phone lines falls, they could get electrocuted. We take extra care to make sure that this does not happen while we’re working on your tree removal.

Finally, there are potential hazards inside the tree like insects or rotting wood. If the tree is already dying, there could be deadwood and unstable limbs or hollowed-out trunks. We are equipped to handle this and will be sure to take care of your tree removal Austin.

Give us a call today at 5132-341-8888 to have your tree removed by the experts at Austin Tree Service.