Phillip R. Coker

Phil is a member of the International Society of Arboriculture (member # 1872) and is an ISA Certified Arborist (#PN-0100A)

From Phil's Desk...

Key Arboriculture Terms

Natural Target Pruning

Insect & Disease Problems

Volcano Mulching

Root Flare Integrity

Dr. Alex Shigo



Madroño, or Madrone, is the Spanish term for a beautiful Mediterranean evergreen tree known commonly as the Strawberry Tree, or in latin as "Arbutus unedo". The Texas Madrone, or "Arbutus xalapensis" is the namesake tree of Madroño Tree Services (listed as "A. texana"in older texts and plant articles, and still referred to by that name by some nurseries and gardeners). It is a small to medium size tree that has exfoliating bark similar to that of crepe myrtles, but much more vibrant. It ranges in color from white, to pink, and sometimes even has a reddish hue. It grows in the canyonlands of the Balcones Escarpment, a beautiful area known to most Texans as the Hill Country. It can also be found in the mountains of far west Texas (the Trans-Pecos region of the state). Madrones are members of the Heath family, and have flowers similar to the blueberries, and produce small, roundish, bumpy red fruit, that, like that found on its Mediterranean cousin, resembles a small, round strawberry. It is edible, and is prized by wildlife. Look for more information about Madrones, as well as other Texas trees as we refine and expand our web site. And thank you for visiting us. We invite you to come back and see us again.
Phil Coker, Certified Arborist # PN-0100A, and Owner of Madrono Tree Services.

Call owner, Phil Coker, for a tree pruning estimate at 832-289-3413. Phil can also be reached at or send a text to the above number.

Madrono Tree Services provides

Certified arborist and owner of Madrono Tree Services, Phillip R. Coker #PN-0100A


Madrono Tree Services was started in 1989 and is owned and operated by Phillip R. Coker.He is a graduate of La Porte (TX) High School and has a B.Sc. from TAMU/College Station. His major areas of study were arboriculture and parks and natural resource management. Before starting MTS he had experience with various Houston area landscape companies and nurseries, the grounds crew at Texas A&M University(CS) and University of Washington (Seattle) and was a volunteer guide at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center (Memorial Park) from 1975-1980. He looks forward to helping you care for your trees.



Building a Green Foundation

Madrono Tree Services specializes in not only helping owners with their trees and landscaping issues but also in educating people on 'natural target pruning' or in layman's terms -'how to trim trees and shrubs', a system of pruning developed by Dr. Alex Shigo, former Chief Scientist USDA. Madrono Tree Services is located in Southeast Houston, TX and services Galveston County, Harris County, and Brazoria County. Other services provided are:

Tree Care and the Environment Classes - Owner Phil Coker would enjoy the opportunity to provide classes to Homeowners Association members, Garden Clubs, Landscaper's Organization, Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce and other member organizations interested in learning correct tree care and environmentally friendly landscaping techniques. Have a need or suggestion for a class? Make a class suggestion.

Madrono's services center around restoring and promoting the health of your landscape by the use of proper pruning techniques, re-establishing grades, and the right mulch regimen around plants, trees and shrubs. Madrono Tree Services also suggests getting away from 'weed & feed' products that bring on rapid growth to using organic based products that promote soil health - not excessive plant growth. One such product is MicroLife - a biological, organic fertilizer developed for soil and plant health. Most insect and disease problems can originate or be prolonged by poor cultural practices. (See our Green Care page) Rather than immediately applying pesticides, Phil prefers to work with homeowners and property owners to develop a management plan to reduce the need for pesticides.

incorrect volcano mulching
Volcano mulching, a common yet insidious landscape practice. Excess mulch and soil against the trunk and root flare sometimes hide old injuries and extensive decay like that found at the base of this pine.

The common, yet traumatically incorrect, practice of 'volcano mulching' is a constant battle for Phil and his team. As seen in the picture on the left, the damage occurring to this tree cannot be seen. Hidden conditions such as deteriorating bark and girdling and choking roots may progress to the point that the health of the tree is compromised. The same is true for your shrubs and plants. Mulch can be very beneficial when correctly applied. The mulch should never touch the trunk, and only be about 1 - 2 inches deep - there is no need to mound it. Proper mulching preserves the 'root flare integrity' of the tree. Mulch could be applied to the tree below to suppress the grass growth as long as the mulch wasn't mounded up over the root flares. (Root flare indicated by white arrows.)

Root Flare


Environment & Landscaping

Dr. Alex Shigo May 8, 1930 -October 6, 2006

Dr Alex Shigo

Dubbed the "Father Of Modern Arboriculture", Dr. Alex Shigo, tree pathologist, educator and author, spent most of his adult life studying, lecturing, dissecting and writing about trees. "A tree is much more than a chunk of dead wood," exclaimed Shigo. "Trees are alive; they live all year 'round, not just for a short time in the summer. They work during the winter, too. Many people spend time on what goes wrong with a tree; I wanted to study what goes right." Shigo found that trees respond to injuries by sealing the wounded area through the process of "compartmentalization". This theory of "compartmentalization of decay in trees" was Shigo's biological brainstorm, leading to many changes and adaptations in the tree care industry. Instead of healing like human skin, the tree responds to injury by 'walling off' the affected area; effectively compartmentalizing the injured area so that other parts of the tree are not affected.

Official Web site of Dr. Alex Shigo

Dr. Shigo at workDr. Shigo Logo