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Wednesday - October 15, 2008

From: Livingston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Replacing vegetation lost to hurricane
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Between Rita & Ike, I have lost over 40 beautiful trees, most red, white & post oaks. I have 6 very large (7' in diameter) pines that tried to pull up and are now leaning toward my house. They are scheduled to be taken down soon. Please recommend native trees to replace ones lost. I would like fast growing, medium to small in height. 2nd question: have also lost trees on creek bank that were holding a lot of soil, erosion is big concern. What type of tree or fast growing ground cover do you recommend for creek bank? Thank you.

ANSWER:

We are so very sorry to hear about the losses on your property from the hurricanes. We have had many requests for help from people who have lost trees, although none as many as you have. We will definitely make some recommendations for replacement trees, but you probably know better than we do that many of the trees usually suggested as sturdy and perhaps wind-resistant are the very trees that you lost. The pines, which were probably native there, are the only ones we would not suggest you plant again. They are so tall and thin, they seem like natural targets when hurricanes come in. One caution about fast-growing trees is that they tend to be short-lived and have weaker wood that is probably more susceptible to damage. But we'll see what we can find in our Recommended Species for East Texas.

A project of this size is really out of the scope of Mr. Smarty Plants. You probably need someone onsite to help you decide how much to replace, and with what, as well as resolving the erosion problems. First, see this article from the Texas Forest Service Hurricane Ike Response and Recovery. Then go to their Home Page where you will find links to, among others, "Landowners." This Home Page lists contact information, including e-mail. We don't know exactly the extent to which they can help you, but it certainly looks like a good place to start.

We'll begin with the erosion problem. The best (and quickest) erosion protection is the planting of native grasses. Trees adapted to waterside environments will also help, but they are going to be slower-growing. Grasses can be seeded, but if there are Fall rains you could lose a lot of your crop. Plugging is more labor intensive and expensive, but could turn out in the long run to be the best option. There are erosion control fabrics that are purported to hold soil while new plants take root. Since this is another thing we know very little about, see this eHow page on How to Install Erosion Control Fabric. Again, this is probably an area in which you need professional help. Some of the grasses native to East Texas that should work well in that environment are  Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem), Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama), Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) and Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

For tree replacements, these trees and shrubs are native to East Texas, remain fairly low and seem to have strong wood: Aesculus pavia (red buckeye), Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam), Cornus florida (flowering dogwood), Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum). Some trees that have some erosion-resistant characteristics are: Betula nigra (river birch), Taxodium distichum (bald cypress), Salix caroliniana (coastal plain willow) and Salix exigua (narrowleaf willow). The willows are not strong trees, but in the short term, to help hold the creekside soil, they might be very effective. 



 

 

 

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