Planting Trees in Austin

Whether you own property in Rob Roy or Olympic Heights, you probably lost a tree or two last year. In December, the Forest Service said that the drought, prolonged high winds and record-setting temperatures of 2011 may have killed some 10% , or half a billion, Texas trees!

Good news?  With this mild Texas winter and the return of much-needed rain, now is a good time for replanting.  So what will it be?  A Texas Ash?  A Southern Live Oak?  Maybe a Magnolia?

Thanks to a partnership with Texas AgriLIFE Extension Service, the City of Austin Grow Green Program has just the information you need to get started!  Douglas F. Welsh is a professor and horticulturist with AgriLIFE, and offers Austinites the following advice:

– Select a site that is in full sun. Dig the hole twice as wide as the root ball (container), and no deeper than the height of the root ball. The soil that you dig out of the hole is what you use to backfill around the root ball. No soil amendments are recommended when planting a tree.  Therefore, no compost, peat moss, or shredded pine bark should be added to the backfill.

– After planting the tree, build a 4-inch tall berm around the edge of the hole. Fill the berm with mulch (i.e. shredded bark or compost). The mulch and berm make it easier to water the tree and reduce weed competition.

– For most trees, staking is not recommended; however, if the tree trunk is not sturdy enough, use two stakes, one on either side of the tree, and give the trunk support for the first year only.

– Right after planting, fill the bermed basin with water. This will settle the existing soil around the root ball.

– For the first week after planting, lightly water the tree every day (about one pint to one quart of water each day). The second week, water every other day with about one to two quarts of water. During week three, water every third day with two to three quarts of water. Week four and beyond, water once a week if needed. The goal is to wean the tree slowly off of supplemental irrigation, and produce a root system large enough for the tree to thrive on natural rainfall.

– REMEMBER: These are just guidelines. Use your index finger to check the soil moisture under the mulch. If the soil is cool to the touch, do not water. If it is warm and dry, then water. More plants are killed by over-watering than by under-watering.

For more information on local gardening and landscaping, visit the City of Austin’s Grow Green Program online, or call (512) 974-2550.  Happy Planting!

The Austin REALTORS® at Regent Property Group support the City of Austin’s Grow Green Program.  They also help home-buyers stay on top of the latest in Lake Travis trends.  If you’re on the lookout for Austin home for sale, check out Austin Home Search!