Zilker Neighborhood Gardens

Commentary by a National Wildlife Steward who helps Zilker neighbors establish native plant gardens

Tag Archives: austin energy

Leaf for a Leaf … Reading and Tree Program

Let me begin by saying I saw a Red Bud tree blooming yesterday, February 7th, on Kerr St. I’ll let you do the roaming to find it. Red bud trees will be mentioned later in this post … but now to my topic!

Combining two of my favorite things in the world: reading and gardening – is the Leaf for a Leaf program sponsored by the Austin Public Library, TreeFoks, Austin Parks and Recreation Urban Forestry Program, and Austin Energy.

Attention tree lovers of all ages, the Leaf for a Leaf program promotes borrowing library books to reduce the number of trees that are cut down to make paper. Learn to improve the air we breathe, minimize environmental impact, and enhance your surroundings. The program celebrates trees in the late fall through the early winter because it is the best time to plant them in Central Texas. This year Leaf for a Leaf takes place from October 29 through March 3. Make sure to participate in our Leaf for a Leaf reading contest. Turn in a card at the Twin Oaks Branch, 1800 South Fifth Street, for every five books you read. The more you read, the better chance you have of winning a big prize. So what are you waiting for? Start reading a leaf for a leaf now!

Photo of reading log entry cardI saw a display in the Twin Oaks branch library today. It’s not too late to start keeping track of your reading to be entered into the final drawing for prizes. While I’m not 100% convinced by their premise to decrease the number of books printed and reduce trees cut down (how can I when my husband is a book publisher and author?), I am 100% supportive of checking out books at the library. In fact, I have been in a monthly book club for more than 4 years and I have never bought even one of the books for the monthly book club meetings. I am committed to getting my books from the library. Sometimes I check-out the actual book, sometimes an audio book version, and lately, a Kindle book version read on my iPad. Anyway, that’s enough about reading …

And now let’s turn to gardening. The finale event of Leaf for a Leaf is an event at Ricky Guerrero Park (click for map), which is located just south of the Twin Oaks Library. See the details below. At this event, not only can you help mulch trees at the park, it looks like you can also receive a free book bag, a red bud sapling (one of my favorite trees – I have planted 3 of them in the last year at my own house, though mine are not blooming yet), and mulch.

March 3 at 9 a.m. to 12 noon
Tree Celebration Finale @ Ricky Guerrero Park, 2006 S. Sixth St.
Bring the whole family to show some love for the trees at Ricky Guerrero Park. Join the Library and Parks Departments to mulch the park’s trees. There will be snacks, hands-on book and tree themed crafts for kids and adults. Everyone who attends will walk away with a free book bag, sapling and mulch. Austin Parks and Recreation’s Urban Forestry experts will be on hand to teach you how to care for your new tree-to-be. Additionally, turn in your Leaf for a Leaf frequent reader cards to be entered into a drawing for exciting prizes! You must be present to win.
This is your chance to also reap the benefits of all the reading you are doing. Turn in  your reading logs, and you’ll be entered into the drawing. See you there on March 3rd.

Tree Trimming To Begin Soon

Picture of Tree with Austin Energy tag on itHave you noticed any green tags on your trees? This past weekend, I have noticed many trees with green tags that are from Austin Energy. On the tag, there’s a note indicating the type of tree.

Tree Tag

Tree Tag

As you might have guessed, all the trees are located under power lines. It looks like Austin Energy is starting their tree trimming in our neighborhood soon. If you would like more information or have questions, you should contact Austin Energy directly.

On their website, they indicate:

Austin Energy follows a pruning program to meet the National Electrical Safety Code, avoid potential liability issues, and prevent outages and accidents. Our Certified Arborists and Foresters work closely with contractors to prune trees and keep them clear of power lines for four to five years.  (http://www.austinenergy.com/Customer%20Care/Other%20Services/Tree%20Pruning/index.htm)

I think you need to be proactive if you think something incorrect is occurring with your trees. On the Zilker neighborhood listserv, I have read posts from neighbors who were not satisfied with the Austin Energy’s contractors, aborists, and foresters. I do not have personal knowledge but do please be proactive, as our trees are our best assets, providing much needed shade (for humans) and shelter (for animals). On the other hand, it is true that trees need to be pruned to avoid damage to electrical infrastructure (which only costs taxpayer dollars to fix).

The best solution is to: CONSIDER THE SIZE OF THE TREES YOU PLANT & THE LOCATION. If a power line exists overhead, don’t plant an oak tree which will become 50-100 feet high. In fact, Austin Energy has a wonderful list of preferred trees for planting under powerlines. You will notice by browsing the list that none of these trees get much higher than 20 feet tall.

Some of my favorites on their list include: Orchid Tree, Mexican Plum, Evergreen Sumac, Texas Persimmon, Texas Redbud! But all of the trees listed are wonderful.

You are not alone if you have a tall tree that needs to be pruned. You might have inherited it! I know we did. We have a non-native loquat tree growing under the power line extension from the pole to our house. This tree gets very tall. We are in a quandary right now, as we don’t really want to remove it, but we know it will become a problem in the future. At worst, we need to be prepared for its future pruning by Austin Energy!

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