Q. When is the best time to prune my trees?

A. Timing for pruning can depend on many factors. The old adage about pruning in the winter when the sap is down may have some good points, but has no basis in science. It has the advantage that the arborist can see tree structure or defects more easily. In the spring and summer, wounds will close a little quicker. In late summer, the tree has had the use of the leaves to make energy all summer. These are all pretty minor compared to pruning a tree incorrectly or over pruning.

Q. My Tree is sapping. I had someone spray for it and it is still sapping. Why?

A. If you are talking about a fine mist of honey dew, which is tiny droplets of sugary sap, this is the excess sap from feeding of some sap sucking insect, generally scale or aphids. These insects suck a lot of sap and excrete the excess. Aphids are soft body insects that have a very short life span but a very high reproductive potential. Many of the scale in west Texas have one generation per year and a pretty small window of opportunity to control with a spray. Tree Loving Care tries to time our sprays within the window of a week before hatch to 2 weeks after hatch. We also use systemic products to increase those windows as well as to have less impact on non-targets. These products generally take a few weeks to get throughout the tree, but last several months. Since the tree is still 'sapping', most likely the spraying was done too early or too late.

Q. When is the best time to plant a tree?

A. Many people will tell you that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. Those people will also tell you that you plant trees for your grandchildren, not for yourself. The answer most people want is more about which season and the answer to that is that the dormant season has less risk and greater reward that summer planting. The hardest season on newly transplanted trees is summer, when there are still limited roots and the demand for water is greatest. With most trees and shrubs, the more roots you can grow before summer gets here, the better off you are. With proper care, you can plant in any season, but that is why nurserymen tell you, 'Fall is for planting'.

Q. My tree was planted too close to the house and is lifting the sidewalk and I am worried about my foundation?

A. A Sidewalks and driveways are generally only 4" thick and are very easy for any tree root system to lift. If your foundation is properly done, roots will generally hit the foundation and turn parallel the footing. Theses roots rarely cause damage to a foundation. Tree Loving Care uses a tool called an Air Spade to safely excavate and expose the root. We then can make a determination whether or not the root is causing harm and if it is, cut the offending root without harming the rest of the root system. This minimizes harm to your tree and allows you to keep the tree without harming the house.

Q. I'm tired of the acorns under my oak tree. What can you do?

A. Many fruit, bean and nut bearing trees can be sprayed with a synthetic hormone product to cause the blooms to fall off before fruit set. As with many problems and products, proper timing is very important.

Q. My tree is too big and I'm worried about it falling on my house

A. Trees don't fall because they are big. They might fall because they have defects or because the soil becomes unstable. Root loss can occur because of mechanical injury such as trenching to replace a utility line, house additions, etc. Diseases attack root systems and then rot them. Heavy rains that completely saturate the ground accompanied by high winds can cause tree failure. The Certified Arborists at Tree Loving Care are trained in the science of hazard evaluation.

Q. A truck broke a large branch off my beautiful willow tree. Will this kill my tree?

A. Loss of any large limb is harm, but doesn't kill trees. Soft wooded trees such as willows rot faster than slower growing trees with harder wood. Wounds such as breaks, rips and tears often violate the trees natural defense boundaries and definitely need to be cleaned of jagged edges by a competent arborist

Q. My pecan is barely leafing out and only along the big branches. Is it going to be ok?

A. We are in the most severe drought on record and all trees are stressed, especially trees that need quite a bit of water, such as pecans. Pecans are also stressed this year, as are many trees and shrubs, by having their new shoots frozen by a late freeze. In some cases, this happened twice. When a new shoot arises, the process is initiated and supported by energy that is stored in the twig very close to the bud until the leaves arising from that bud can become net producers of energy. When the bud was frozen, the new buds that emerged were initiated with energy from further down the twig and/or from larger wood. In some cases, this happened twice and there just wasn't any energy left in small twigs, only in larger wood. There isn't any shade from leaves on the outer canopy twigs so the twigs/shoots in the interior grow more. It will take at least a couple years for the growth habit to get back to normal.

Q. How much fertilizer should my trees get?

A. Trees are forest organisms and if your soil is healthy, they will get most of the nutrients they need from the soil and from the atmosphere. Their greatest need in the vast grassland soils of west Texas is organic matter and water. If you have turf under the trees and it is being fertilized, the trees generally are getting enough nitrogen from that. TLC's organic fertilization program focuses on the application of organic matter and beneficial micro-organisms to improve soil health and counter the effects of excess minerals because of our hard water.