Frequently Asked Questions

What does an Urban Forester do?

An Urban Forester is a degreed forester (or related discipline) who manages naturally occurring and planted trees and forests in urban areas.

How do trees benefit a community?

Trees benefit a community by contributing social, economic and ecological services that aid in the enhancement of quality of life issues.

How can you tell the age of a tree?

The best way to tell the age of a tree is by local historical records or by counting its tree rings using an increment borer (usually this method is not recommend except by a professional forester).

Why plant native trees and how many different kinds of native tree species are in Texas? Native trees are trees that grew here naturally before the arrival of European settlers.  Native plants are less susceptible to insects, diseases and drought conditions than non-native plants.  In addition native trees usually need less fertilizer and support a wider diversity of wildlife than non-native species.  There are approximately 125 tree species native to the Houston/Upper Gulf Coast Region.

When is the best time to plant trees and how do I properly plant a tree?

In the Texas Bayou Region, the best time to plant trees are generally mid November to late February.  Planting in late fall or winter will allow roots to become established before moisture demanding summer sets in.  For planting techniques please refer to the Houston Area Urban Forestry Council’s Tree Information Center page located on this web site.

How do you determine the best type of tree to plant?

People plant trees for different reasons, many prefer broad canopy trees that provide shade, while others prefer trees with color, and some prefer trees that are utilized by birds and other wildlife. The best way to determine what type of tree to plant is to first decide on the reason for planting. The next step is to look at the planting site and determine if the tree you want will “fit” in the site that you have planned. If the reason for the tree and the requirements of the tree are a match, then chances are you’ll have a healthy and happy tree for a long period of time. For more information contact your local nursery or view our Tree Information Center page or our Tree Guide located on this web site.

Where do I go to look for a qualified arborist?

For a list of Certified Arborists in your area, contact the International Society of Arboriculture, (217) 355-9411 or

How to recognize hazardous trees?

Trees or parts of trees may fall and cause injury to people or damage to property, steps should be taken to reduce the liabilities of high risk trees.  Look for any detached branches hanging in the tree, cavities or rotten wood along the trunk or major branches.

Are there cracks or splits in the trunk are where branches are attached?

Survey the roots to see if they have been injured in any way (soil compaction, recent construction due to pavement installation, sidewalk repairing or digging trenches). Notice any discoloration of the leaves or any topping to the tree.

Where can I go to get free trees?

Trees For Houston can provide trees to qualifying homeowners in neighborhoods throughout the greater Houston region. These planted trees help transform Houston’s neighborhoods into beautiful green spaces that enhance the quality of life for all residents. Contact Trees For Houston, 713-840-8733 or

How do you prune a tree?

Sometimes it is necessary to remove dead branches, improve tree structure, enhance vigor, or maintain the safety of the tree and the surrounding area.  But, improper pruning can cause structural damage which can lead to serious problems that might not show up until years after the damage was done.  It is recommended that all pruning be done by a Certified Arborist. Not only will this effectively achieve the goal of a healthy and aesthetically pleasing tree, but it will also be less expensive than paying someone later on to repair problems that could have been prevented by understanding tree processes and utilizing proper pruning techniques.

When is the best time to fertilize?  How much and what kind do I use?

Fertilization can be an important aspect of tree care. Trees require certain nutrients (essential elements) to function and grow, some of which are often lacking in urban soils. While fertilizer can often enhance growth, if it is misused or miss-applied it may end up causing more harm than good. Trees with satisfactory growth may not need to be fertilized. When considering fertilizer, it is important to know which nutrients are lacking in the soil and how and when it should be applied. Soil conditions, especially pH and organic matter content, vary greatly, making the proper selection and use of fertilizer a somewhat complex process. A Certified Arborist should be consulted in order to evaluate the tree and site before any fertilization takes place. If the situation warrants, the arborist may arrange to have your soil tested at a soil testing laboratory which will help determine application rates, timing, and the best blend of fertilizer to use for your trees and other landscape plants.

Our city wants to write a tree ordinance, can you help us with the services you provide?

Please refer to the Texas Forest Service Bayou Region office at (713) 688-8931 Mickey Merritt or (713) 688-8932 Dallas Singleton.

How can we attain educational materials for our schools and do you provide presentations?

Yes, several members of the HAUFC have educational materials for schools and provide school presentations at requests.  Please refer to the Membership Directory page.

What are some common tree and insects that thrive in the Bayou Region?

Some common trees that thrive in the Bayou Region are: Red Maple, River Birch, Pecan, Green Ash, , Sweetgum, Loblolly Pine, Live Oak, Shumard oak, Baldcypress, , Redbud, Mexican Plum and Yaupon just to name a few.

Some common insects that thrive in the Bayou Region are: Aphids, scales, ants, beetles, borers, webworms, caterpillars, leaf minors and spider mites just to name a few.

What is the mission of the HAUFC?

The Houston Area Urban Forestry Council (HAUFC) was formed in 1986 with the mission of providing a forum where the different interests involved in urban forestry could come together to develop programs for an enhanced urban forest in the greater Houston area. Here are some of our recent accomplishments. (PDF file)

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