Tree - Dirt Doctor


My love affair with trees began early. As a kid I climbed everything that stood still but trees were my favorite obstacles. My two favorite trees were a catalpa and a mimosa, both smooth-barked trees in our yard in Pittsburg, Texas. Unfortunately one of those trees, the mimosa, is weak and dying out across the country but the catalpa is still on my good tree list, even though most of the rest of the world considers it a trash tree. Well, that’s what this book is about - horticultural details as well as my opinions on whether and how to use the various trees available in Texas.

After I grew up and quit climbing them, trees became enormously important to me for another reason. During my conversion to organics in the late 80s I was astonished at how well trees responded to the organic method. Once residential and commercial projects ceased using high-nitrogen synthetic fertilizers and toxic chemical pesticides, the trees on these projects almost immediately took on a better appearance and started to grow at a faster rate than before the change. The one tree that taught me the most is a ginkgo in my own back yard in the Lakewood area of Dallas. See the entry for the full story, but it proved to me that trees grow better under an organic program. I didn’t understand the details in the beginning, just knew it was working. Now I do understand the secret. That wonderfully simple secret is actually no secret at all. It is explained in detail in the first chapter. In general what happened is that I discovered Mother Nature’s plan, a perfect plan that is in some ways too simple for most folks to buy into at first.

 The secret? Imitate Nature as close as you can.

1)   Select adapted plants and plant them correctly at the proper time and in the right location.

2)   Don’t do anything that hurts the life in the soil.

It’s really that simple. Find the details of this basic plan in the first chapter and then special instructions for particular trees under the appropriate entries.

I hope you will find this book easy to use but I encourage your suggestions. Welcome to the common sense approach to dealing with the most wonderful plants – the trees.


 Howard Garrett

 This is the introduction in my book Howard Garrett's Texas Trees.


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