Confession: I admit I am a proud “tree hugger.” So, I’m always on the hunt for inspiring trees. And this one never fails to impress.
The majestic live oak nestled at Houston’s famed Becks Prime has survived oil booms and busts, multiple hurricanes, several floods, explosive local population growth and two Super Bowls over its 400-year life span.
Yet, this immense natural landmark continues to be vital to human health and offers environmental, economic and emotional benefits. The tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale per year. Plus, neighborhoods like Tanglewood/Briargrove, with shady streets and parks, attract people, have lower crime rates and higher property values.
“Trees give back to us all year long,” says Ted Sonnier of The Davey Tree Expert Company in Houston, the caretaker of this 400-year-old oak. “But big trees need proper care, and I’m Texas proud to care for one of the oldest trees in Texas!”
Sonnier offers five tips on how he and his team keep big trees in the Houston area healthy.
1. Water slowly, deeply. Sonnier says the best time to water is in the morning. To ensure water is used most efficiently, run a sprinkler beneath the tree as slowly as possible, use a drip hose or apply a slow trickle from a garden hose. Avoid directly irrigating the trunk, as increased moisture encourages root rot. Water the area under the crown of the tree out to the edge of the canopy.
2. Mulch, mulch, mulch! Cover the “drip zone” of the tree with 1-3” of shredded hardwood or leaf mulch. But don’t over mulch or “volcano” mulch. Keep mulch 2-3″ away from the trunk.
3. Fertilize as necessary. Landscape trees compete for nutrients with lawns and shrubs. It’s important to replace those nutrients, and use a fertilizer developed specifically for trees. Proper tree fertilization can help reduce susceptibility to damage from certain diseases, insects and environmental stresses.
4. Prune dead, damaged or dangerous limbs. Properly pruning a tree not only creates a more pleasing and natural look, but also can eliminate the spread of certain diseases and extend a tree’s lifespan. Don’t take on jobs that may be a potential safety risk, and always consult a certified arborist.
5. Inspect trees annually. Visually inspect your tree starting from the ground up. “If you see a problem at the base, chances are the tree has more significant problems at the top,” explains Sonnier.
Trees can survive drought, diseases, and invasive pests if given proper care. Like people, trees need annual checkups to stay healthy. Consult an arborist to keep your trees in top shape. And make sure to hug them — the trees, not your arborist — although that’s up to you.
Ted Sonnier can be reached at http://www.davey.com/local-offices/south-houston-tree-service/.