Arborgeddon Ice Damage Update

After this month’s ice damage, we’re getting a lot of questions. How will “Arborgeddon” continue to affect Austin’s trees and landscapes into the future?

What do you need to think about now?

  • Are all your breaks/cuts/tears in good shape? For the health of your tree, make sure you don’t have any jagged breaks or tears. These are magnets for disease.
  • Are there any cracked limbs that have yet to fully break or fall? Get those taken care of!

Is oak trimming still ok?

  • We typically stop trimming oaks in February to prevent Oak Wilt, UNLESS there is property damage, safety concerns, or arbor health considerations. So YES. Oak trimming is essential right now.
  • Your oaks should be ok as long as you follow best practices. If you are doing it yourself (or have some guy in a truck do it), please disinfect all tools and paint all cuts afterward.

Will my trees survive the ice damage?

  • A good general rule for tree trimming (and plants and grass, too) is never to trim more than one-third of the canopy. As long as two-thirds of your limbs are left standing, your tree should be A-OK.
  • If any of your trees experienced more extensive damage, they will probably survive, but they will be very stressed. Clean it up, watch it closely, and make sure it gets plenty of water during the heat of summer (slowly drip a hose at the tree’s base for a few hours at a time). You may want to fertilize.
  • If in doubt, give us a call to check it out. There are also a number of more advanced tree specialists in town, and we can help connect you if you want to give your prize oak the best chance for success.
Unfortunately, if your whole tree might have to go if it lost more than a third of its canopy to ice damage.

Will the debris stacked on my grass damage the turf?

  • If the city comes soon, then no. The turf is dormant right now, so a week or two shouldn’t do any damage.
  • THAT’S A BIG IF. My prediction is that there will be neighborhoods with debris stacked on the street for a month (or longer). Maybe you will be the lucky one picked up this week…maybe not. As you can imagine, green waste sites are completely overrun. Some have stopped taking debris, and others will stop soon.
  • So what should you do about it?
    • Stack on the street if possible (not your grass).
    • Call your city council member and suggest a donation to their next campaign if your street receives prompt service. Definitely not a bribe…definitely not.
    • Call Top Choice. We are more expensive than the city, but we are also more reliable and faster.
As you can imagine, the lines at Austin’s green waste sites are CRAZY right now. Here’s the view from one of our truck’s rear-view mirror.

What crazy idea will Elon musk come up with next?

  • Who knows?
  • It will probably sound crazy.
  • It will probably work and make lots of money.
  • He will likely tweet about it.

How did all this tree damage happen?

  • We haven’t seen a storm this bad for trees in over 35 years. Snowpocalypse 2020 wasn’t this bad for trees. Why not? What happened? It’s all about ice damage.
  • Temperatures were hovering between 30 and 33 degrees, AND we had a light and consistent rain. These two factors meant that moisture wasn’t freezing UNTIL it hit a tree branch or other object. This resulted in large ice build-up — especially on trees with foliage (live oaks and cedars). Ice is heavy. Heavy + Time = Breakage.
  • If it had been colder (by even a few degrees), the moisture would have frozen before it hit the trees and fallen to the ground as “Texas Snow.” If it had been warmer (by even a few degrees), it would have dripped from the branches. If it had rained harder, less ice would have built up (knocked off chunks). If it had rained less, less ice would have built up (less moisture). Perfect. Storm.

Are there any other things I should be thinking about for my lawn right now?

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