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Trees Rejoice at Their Sight

One of Neil Sperry's favorite photos of Steve Houser in Neil's backyard.
This is one of my favorite photos: My friend Steve Houser, owner of Arborilogical Services, in our backyard where he’s been working alongside his crew tending our large shade trees. All photos by Neil Sperry.

Published November 1, 2018 By NEIL SPERRY

Important Note: Before I write my first word about Steve Houser and Arborilogical Services, I need to tell you that they advertise on my radio program, here in e-gardens and on my website. But I also want to tell you that no one has asked me to write any of what I’m about to write – I don’t work that way. I hope they don’t cancel tomorrow, but if they were to, these words would still stand. They’ve earned every one of them.

And this is one of Steve’s favorite photos, because it gives him the chance to tell you how he made that wall of his new office building himself using rustic old pallets.

He wanted a "green" building...

It was pouring down rain last Wednesday when my wife and I paid a visit to Arborilogical Services, but that was OK. Owner Steve Houser had time to show us around and explain some of the things he and his architect and builder had worked into the facility.

It’s 5,000 square feet of very functional office space with a couple of meeting rooms. The roof faces mostly south, and it’s 80 percent covered with solar panels. Steve said their electric bill is usually just a couple of hundred dollars a month. Pipes plunge 200 feet into the ground to recirculate water that holds a constant 68 degrees. It’s an easy adjustment to boost that up to comfortable room temperatures in the winter, and 68F is a great starting point for cooling in summer.

The downstairs floor is solid concrete polished to a handsome sheen. But when you go upstairs you realize you’re in a place where a man who loves trees and wood works. With a giant smile Steve describes how the flooring is made up of scraps, as in cast-offs of hardwoods. “They’re Number 3’s – pieces that most builders just throw out with the trash.” You look down at the beautiful patchwork of woods and you realize there are knots and even knotholes, but you find yourself exclaiming its beauty.

It’s hard to imagine that wood this beautiful would have normally been tossed onto the scrap heap, but Steve Houser saw its real beauty. Gotta love it!!!

Walls of the building feature recycled concrete, first pulverized to powder, then cast to form beautiful layered stone. To be completely candid, my wife and I had no idea that’s what we’d been looking at most of the morning. And the exterior walls are filled with insulation increasing the building’s R-value to R-52!

Manmade “stone” formed from recycled concrete.

Steve is proud of his people. The crews had already gone out before the rains came, so he spent time introducing us to the in-house office staff. Marketing and advertising, administration and accounting, phone-answering and scheduling. It takes a big staff to keep up with a team like this.

Why discard worn-out equipment when you can create something handsome out of it? That’s what’s about to happen with these long-used items.

One office, that of general manager Lisa Pennington, has three piles of used tree-climbing equipment. It all caught my eye, and apparently with good reason. Those helmets, harnesses and ropes, worn out and past their prime, are being saved for an artistic display somewhere in the lovely facility.

And then Steve took us around to the meeting room where he and his 12 International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborists meet every week or two to discuss ongoing tree issues. They’re college graduates in horticulture, forestry and plant pathology, and what one doesn’t know, another can help with. That’s a luxury most tree service companies don’t get to enjoy.

So far I’ve neglected to tell you that a longtime friend of mine was also along on this tour, and in the meeting room we three stopped long enough to have my wife take our photo. Arborilogical Services hired plant pathologist and former Collin County Extension Horticulturist Dr. Greg Church onto their team a year ago next week, and Steve beams about bringing him abroad like a proud dad.

Neil, Dr. Greg Church and Steve Houser block the door to the kitchen at the new facilities of Arborilogical Services.

The work they do...

Arborilogical Services has been providing the finest in tree care since 1981. They’ve won the top awards. They’ve led their industry. Three of their men (Steve Houser, Russell Peters and Kevin Bassett) have been named Texas Arborists of the Year (a singular award to one person each year).

Arborilogical crews have been climbing high into the Sperry pecans for the past 20-plus years.

Their crews work in DFW exclusively, dispatching in all directions each morning. When ice and windstorms do major damage, they redouble their efforts, beginning with the people who answer the phones and carrying through to the men who climb the trees, take down the broken limbs and clean up the debris.

Steve Houser hands the 2018 Texas Tree Climbing Championship award (named by the industry as “the Houser Cup”) to Miguel Pastenes of Arborilogical Services earlier this year. This is Miguel’s 9th time to win this championship! He was also the North American Tree Climbing Champion in 2015. (And I’m proud to say that both of these men have climbed in the Sperry trees!)

And all of that says nothing of the give-back Steve Houser and others from Arborilogical provide to their communities in thousands of volunteer hours working to save and improve important trees all across Texas. (Steve is a founding member of the Texas Historic Tree Coalition.)

Wherever you are in Texas, my hope is that you have tree people working at this same level of dedication. Trees are the legacy we gardeners leave to future generations. Our sincere thanks to Steve Houser and the great people at Arborilogical Services for all that they do.

I know that Steve would also want me to say this: Thanks, too, to all the other professional tree service companies that work to make Texas greener and greater by their fine efforts. I’ve never seen anyone so selflessly support others within his own industry.

About the author

Mr. Neil Sperry

Mr. Neil Sperry, a McKinney resident, hosts Neil Sperry’s Texas Gardening from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Sundays on WBAP-AM (820). Learn more at neilsperry.com. Each week, Mr. Sperry will offer tips and instructions for making the most of your North Texas garden.

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