Save Our Trees! Prevent Oak Wilt Infection

Lakeway’s trees are one of the area’s special assets that the city has done a great job of planning development around them. They not only provide a serene environments to residents, but much needed shade during long, summer months! Lakeway residents are responsible for the maintenance of any trees on their property, however, be sure you know the pruning guidelines to prevent oak wilt, which has an 85 percent chance of killing the tree and surrounding trees once the infection is established.

What is Oak Wilt?

Oak wilt is a lethal disease of oaks at epidemic levels in Central Texas. The oak wilt fungus colonizes the water uptake systems of susceptible oaks, causing them to drop their leaves and die. Eighty-five percent of live oaks and one hundred percent of red oaks die a few weeks or months after oak wilt infection. The most devastating aspect of oak wilt is that the infection of one oak can lead to the death of hundreds. The fungus moves through the roots into surrounding oaks in an expanding area of dead and dying oaks called an “oak wilt center.” Lakeway has twenty-two oak wilt centers as of October 2008. (source: City of Lakeway)

Pruning Restrictions

Pruning of oaks is prohibited from February 1st through June 30th in the City of Lakeway Diseased Tree Ordinance. This is the highest risk season for new oak wilt infections. Oaks may be pruned from July 1st through January 31st. The risk of oak wilt infection is lower during this seven month period than it is in springtime, but not zero. Pruning seal must be applied to all cuts of all sizes on oaks within ten minutes – the sooner the better. The safest time to prune oaks is during the coldest winter months of November, December, and early to mid-January. Oak pruning should be scheduled during this period whenever possible. The second best time to prune oaks is in July and August during scorching summer temperatures. September and October carry a higher risk level than the hottest and coldest periods, but not as high as the springtime months of February through June. Prune with caution when temperatures are moderate.

Note that Lakeway’s Diseased Tree Ordinance holds all property owners, residents and tree trimmers responsible for oak wilt prevention. Failure to comply could result in a fine of up to $1,000 per day.

Additional information from the City of Lakeway can be found here or contact the Lakeway City Forester at (512) 314-7538 for more information.

To learn more about Lakeway’s Oak Wilt Suppression program, that began in 1989, click here.