Loblolly pine is a large, resinous, conifer reaching from 50 to 100 feet tall. It has gray, scaly bark and dark green needles up to 10 inches long. It drops its lower branches as it grows to form an open, rounded crown of spreading branches under which many other trees and plants may live. One of the fastest growing pine trees, loblolly is used for lumber, pulpwood, and veneer. It is native to the southeastern United States from s. New Jersey down to Florida and west to East Texas. The population of loblolly pine in Bastrop County (known as the Lost Pines) is isolated from the rest by several hundred miles and has developed adaptations that allow it to thrive in the semi-arid climate in Central Texas. These adaptations include a thicker waxy coating on the needles, fewer stomata on the needles, a more fibrous root system, shorter height, and more persistent lower trunk branches.
Recognize these flags? They mean that a homeowner was offered 1 or more totally, completely, FREE trees to plant along the street to create a more shaded, energy-efficient, and walkable neighborhood. Street trees help lower summer temperatures by as much as 5 degrees! We’re currently evaluating yards in South and West Austin to give 3,900 street trees to qualified homeowners. Thanks to a grant from the Save Barton Creek Association, 200 of those trees are guaranteed to go to residents in the Barton Creek recharge zone. If you see these flags in your ‘hood, encourage your neighbors to accept the free trees they were offered – at your next neighborhood meeting, on your neighborhood listserv or with a friendly word. If you have a neighbor who may be unable to plant the trees they are eligible for, offer to plant the trees for them. That small investment of time and neighborliness will pay off in more ways than one!
NeighborWoods has provided more than 50,000 street trees to Austin area homeowners since the start of the program in 1994. Since TreeFolks began managing NeighborWoods in 2002, we’ve provided more than 38,000 trees to more than 20,000 homes! This Fall we delivered more than 1,500 trees to over 800 homes, and will reach a total of 3,900 trees delivered by April 1st. During our 11th year with NeighborWoods, TreeFolks has increased outreach to neighborhood groups and residents to increase response rates and make sure that tree recipients know how to care for the trees once they get them. TreeFolks has organized several events to give away free slow-release tree watering bags, demonstrate the proper way to plant a tree, and answer questions about tree planting and care.
We are currently posting in neighborhoods within the following zip codes: 78704, 78727, 78729, 78745, 78749, 78758, 78759 and a small portion of 78739 and 78748. We posted in 78735 and 78746 earlier this fall, and will return there soon, because that area is in the Barton Creek recharge zone.
We are excited to announce that TreeFolks is working with Loomis Partners, Inc., Bastrop County and the Lost Pines Recovery Team to head up a large-scale effort to plant nearly 60,000 native trees this winter on residential property that was badly scorched in the Bastrop County Complex Fire that began on Labor Day in September 2011. We have hired a new full time coordinator, Dan Pacatte, to evaluate and plan reforestation efforts for each qualifying property. TreeFolks will implement the bulk of landowner outreach and communication. American Youth Works – Texas Conservation Corps will perform the bulk of the tree planting during Year 1 of the 5 year project, thanks to funding they received through a grant from the Austin Community Foundation.
TreeFolks is honored for this opportunity to help reforest the beloved Lost Pines and to engage more deeply with the Bastrop County community. We are grateful to the many members of the Lost Pines Recovery Team who have laid the groundwork for this program to restore the Lost Pines, and to the generous support of organizations that will provide funding for the program including – The Arbor Day Foundation, Apache Foundation, H-E-B, Austin Community Foundation, and Bastrop County. For more information about this developing program, please visit TreeFolks’ BCCRP program page and the Lost Pines Recovery Team website, bastroprecovery.org.
The cold winter months may seem like a time when trees are resting but they are still hard at work under that appearance of dormancy. Roots will continue to grow as long as ground temperatures are moderate. To support root growth leave fallen leaves on the ground to provide your tree with natural mulch, just like you would find on the forest floor. If you can’t leave fallen leaves on the ground, consider running them over with the lawn mower to chop them up into smaller pieces. If that doesn’t work for you, at least make sure your trees have a 3″ layer of wood mulch around them to protect the roots from temperature fluctuations, to hold moisture in the soil, and to improve soil structure. Just don’t let leaves or mulch pile up against the trunk – that can lead to decay.
Winter dormancy is a great time to plant trees and it’s the best time to prune most trees in Central Texas. Before you grab the saw and the pruners, take the time to ask yourself “Why am I pruning these trees?” Keep these goals in mind:
- Remove dead and diseased wood. Make sure you can tell the difference between a dead branch and a live one during the winter (scratch the limb with your thumbnail if you aren’t sure – if it’s alive it will be green.)
- Remove branches that are rubbing against a building or hanging low over a walkway or street.
- Remove crossing branches that rub together and create wounds.
Pruning for any other reason should be kept to a minimum. Consult your favorite tree care book or our Native Tree Growing Guide for Central Texas to learn how to make a proper pruning cut.
We are still in the midst of a prolonged drought in Central Texas and your trees need water even though it’s not hot outside. Remember to water young or newly planted trees at least every 2 weeks and give mature trees a slow, deep watering each month that we don’t get a decent rain. The trees will thank you come spring!
Tree Tips by Colleen Dieter, Owner of Red Wheelbarrow Landscape Consulting
Connect to the Roots of Your Community.
Become an Urban Forest Steward!
The City of Austin Urban Forestry program and TreeFolks present the Urban Forest Steward series of workshops focused on building and protecting the urban canopy of Central Texas.
Drought, invasive species and habitat degradation constantly take a toll on Austin’s parks and natural areas. The Texas Forest Service estimates that Texas has lost up to 10 percent of its trees. The goal of the Urban Forest Steward series is to equip a cadre of citizens to help us gain ground in rebuilding our urban forest through education and volunteer leadership.
Update: There are 12 spaces left that we’re offering individually at a la carte rates. Click below to register!
Austin’s Tree of the Year Award was created in March 2007 to identify and recognize outstanding trees within the city limits of Austin that are most valuable and unique to this area. Each year, these beautiful and healthy trees provide Austinites with examples of the benefits of proper tree selection, care and placement. Austin’s Tree of the Year Award promotes and raises awareness about the many benefits and beauty of Austin’s urban forest by recognizing one exceptional tree each year.
In addition to the annual Tree of the Year award, special recognition for a Community Tree of the Year may be given. To be considered for this award your nomination should demonstrate how your tree supports, promotes and creates community.
- Must include a map and photograph to help the judges identify the tree
- Nominations are limited to two per person per year
- Each nominated tree must be native to Texas or listed in the City of Austin’s Grow Green Guide
- Located within Austin’s city limits
- On public property or capable of being viewed from public property
- If located on private property the owner must consent to the tree information and location being made available to the public
- Must not be the same species as the winning tree of the previous year (the 2011 Tree of the Year was a Pecan)
- Nominations must be received by July 31, 2012
Please direct questions to: treeoftheyear at treefolks dot org or call (512) 443-5323.
While the Austin Tree of the Year Award is designed to recognize outstanding trees, the City of Austin & TreeFolks cannot guarantee the continued health or safety of any nominated tree.
Earlier this month, on a warm and windy Sunday morning, a few families gathered at a public orchard they didn’t even know existed just a few weeks prior. “This orchard was planted 12 years ago by 125 kindergarteners and a few TreeFolks staff,” began Scott Harris, former TreeFolks E.D., still our go-to guy for fruit tree expertise. The family orchard workshop was organized by Rocio Villalobos of Campfire USA Balcones (who translated for the Spanish speakers among the group) and Austin Neal (TreeFolks Board of Directors and Education Committee Chair) to introduce the community orchard to families whose children participate in Campfire USA.
The families heard about the history of the orchard at Southeast Metropolitan Park (a Travis County park in Del Valle) and then took a tour of the orchard, learning about each of the fruit trees planted there – when the fruit would ripen, whether it could be eaten out of hand or was better for preserving, as well as how to treat potential pest and disease problems. Scott then demonstrated how to mulch the fruit trees and talked about the importance of mulch to protect roots from heat and moisture loss and to protect trunks from string trimmers and other lawn equipment. Then, everyone chipped in and mulched fruit trees.
Afterward, the group gathered under a very large and very old Texas persimmon tree (planted next to a house on the grounds long before there was a formal orchard there) and enjoyed Texas peaches and Texas pecans donated by Wheatsville Co-op. “I enjoyed that it was hands-on and interactive and that there were a lot of opportunities for questions and participation from the workshop participants,” said Rocio when asked what she most enjoyed about the workshop. “We’d like to continue returning to this and other orchards that TreeFolks helped to plant over the last decade or so,” says the current E.D., April Rose.
Mexican Plum (Prunus mexicana)
As you look out in the understory of our urban forest this month you’ll find a multitude of plums forming on our tree of the month, the Mexican Plum (also known as the Big Tree Plum). Earlier this spring the trees were covered in a cascade of white-pink flowers that beckon a soft scent of spring. The flower petals quickly fall and leaves begin to appear. The leaves are ovate with serrate margins and have a rough texture. The bark is a beautiful blue-gray with light and dark horizontal striations. The trunk is known for not suckering and thus the root stock is used extensively for grafting. It’s a small understory tree usually from 15 to 35 feet tall. You’ll typically see this relatively drought tolerant tree in rich soils along rivers, in prairies, and open woods. Although the plums are green right now they will ripen in late summer to colors of yellow, purple, and mauve. The fruit is enjoyed by birds, small mammals, and humans. This lovely deciduous tree offers interest for all seasons.
Come on downtown on Arbor Day (Friday, April 27th) for a FREE mini tree tour of Downtown Austin trees! We’ll have an information table set up from 10 to 2 where you can learn about TreeFolks’ tree planting, tree care and wildfire restoration programs and pick up a free Native Tree Growing Guide for Central Texas that includes helpful information about native tree species as well as how to plant, prune and water trees at your home. Our 7-foot tall tree mascot, Barkley, will make an appearance around lunchtime. The tree tour will be one hour long, beginning at 12:45 p.m.
Eat, shop, play, and more at local businesses on Saturday, April 21st and 5% of your purchases will be donated to these local environmental groups: Clean Water Fund, Friends of Barton Springs Pool, Hill Country Conservancy, Sierra Club, Texas Land Conservancy and TreeFolks!
On Wednesday, April 18th, Whole Foods Market will be hosting a Community Giving Day at both locations! Five percent of sales will benefit the campaign.
Also, grab some friends and join us on the patio at the Downtown location on Wednesday evening for live music by Austin icon, Alejandro Escovedo!
Special Thanks to the Businesses that signed up with TreeFolks:
|Austin Java||Green Mesquite|
|Baby Acapulco||Jo’s Coffee|
|El Interior||Matt’s El Rancho|
|Far West Liquor||Uncle Billy’s|
|Genuine Joe Coffee Shop|