Land Stewardship > Vegetation Management
Vegetation can serve a variety of purposes depending upon your land objectives.
Vegetation can provide food and shelter for wildlife. Vegetation can stabilize soils and increase water infiltration. Vegetation can provide resources for landowners and a greater society by their ability to provide forage and sustenance. Vegetation can be described in many ways. However, based on Central Texas management, we will group them as trees, grasses, crops, and weeds.
Vegetation growth, diversity, and management begin with the soils underneath. Learn the soils on your land by visiting Web Soil Survey. This site will identify the soils on your property and provide information regarding range productivity, erosion potential, pond-site potential, and many other factors to help you manage the land. After studying this information, contact a professional for help in using this information for conservation and stewardship planning on your property.
Plant ID and Plant Selector Websites
Selecting Trees to Promote or Plant
Proper trees often fit within a cover type or ecological type on your land. Your land and the trees suitable to it can be grouped in categories such as Riparian, Bottomland, Slopes, and Upland. The area nearest to a stream is called Riparian. Trees in a Riparian zone have the added responsibility of stabilizing the stream bank. A Bottomland forest is typically made of deciduous trees such as Pecan, American Elm, and Bur Oak. These often provide food and cover for wildlife and birds. Trees on Slopes are especially important in draws or gullies to help slow water flow. Upland areas of your land often benefit from trees when cover is needed for wildlife. These "trees" can be tall like live oak, or they may take shrub forms like shinnery oak or sumac.
- Upland planting should take place in the late Fall with container trees. This is also preferred for Bottomland planting; however, winter planting with bareroot seedlings may also be acceptable in Bottomlands.
- Dig as wide a hole as feasible, but don't dig deep. Hardwoods do better when planted with the root collar (point at which stem becomes root) at or above the soil surface.
- Water the new tree slowly immediately after planting.
- During first year, water as deeply and as often as possible. Watering once every one to two weeks is best.
- Visit websites http://texastreeplanting.tamu.edu/PlantTreeProperly.html and 12 steps to success (hope to have link later).
- Don't prune new trees for first five years and then prune with a purpose.
- Prune with careful, educated cuts.
- Avoid Oak Wilt by not damaging or pruning trees when beetles are most active (Feb thru June).
- Paint wounds on all oaks anytime of the year.
- Visit websites http://texastreeplanting.tamu.edu/TreePlantingTools.html and http://www.treesaregood.org/treecare/treecareinfo.aspx
Grass Management (see also Livestock Management)
A critical measure of rangeland health is the amount of residual forage left after grazing. When land is overgrazed, the number of desirable plants decreases while the number of undesirable plants increases. When land is grazed properly, there is a reserve of leaf and stem left so that the plants recover. This residual forage protects the plant crown from cold, heat and insect damage. Documents found at https://agrilifebookstore.org/ show how leaving residual increases future range productivity and cattle production. Good rules of thumb to follow include:
- Calculate Stocking Rate. Publications are available online or contact your local Agrilife or NRCS office.
- Grow healthy grasses in the good years for the bad years.
- Graze ½ of plant height and leave ½.
- Use 25% harvest efficiency when calculating Stocking Rate.
- Only consider acres that are actively being grazed by livestock when calculating Stocking Rate. Do not include riparian, hilly, rocky, or brushy land not being grazed.
- Allow 90 days of rest every 4 years minimum.
- Fence off riparian areas (see Watershed Management).
Growing crops for food or livestock forage has occurred thoughout Central Texas. However, the economics of farming dry, erodible lands in the past has led to a shrinking of current land being used for farming. Still, proper farming of crops should consider not only economics but also erosion control practices.
Often described as any plant found where it is disruptive or not-useful, weeds can spark emotion and a determined response. When applying weed control techniques, careful consideration of the economics and consequences of control will help make a lasting-positive impact on your land. Based on Central Texas management, we will group weeds as brush and herbaceous.
Brush Management (see also Brush Management)
The first step in managing brush is to be clear of your land objectives. Depending upon your goals and knowledge of plant uses, brush may quickly become a "visual screen" or "wildlife cover". After gaining knowledge about your land objectives, it may be time to assess each woody species and determine where and how it should be decreased or managed. Remember that you don't have to clear it all to be successful. Any brush management is best done in phases. You will learn something nearly every time you thin or clear an area, and mistakes are hard to take back.
Herbaceous is any plant which does not form wood. Some such as star thistle grow low to the ground and harm livestock. Others such as Johnson grass can invade fields taking water and nutrients from crops.
Print ResourcesNative Plants of the Edwards Plateau
Web ResourcesAgriLIFE Natural Resource Server
Custom Tree Selector
Endangered Species List by County
NRCS Web Soil Survey
Plant Your Tree Properly
Prescribed Burning Associations
Prescribed Range Burning in Texas
Rangeland Plants of Texas
Soil & Crop Publication Search
Texas AgriLIFE Extension Bookstore
Tree Care Information
Tree Planting Tools
Weed Management in Field Crops and Pasture Grasses