Ecosystem Health > Brush Management

Brush is a general term for woody shrubs and trees which are out of place given the landowners objectives.

In Central Texas, landowners are most commonly referring to types of "cedar", mesquite, prickly pear, and occasionally scrub oak or plum.  Historical accounts show that issues with brush and attempts at managing this brush have occurred in Texas since anglo-settlement in the 1800's.  Prior to that, fire and buffalo herds often kept brush confined to particular areas in a landscape. 

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 clear or thin an area, and mistakes are hard to take back.

Preventing Brush

Methods of Control
There are usually several ways to control brush.  Using a multi-method approach will usually get the best results.


Fire / Prescribed Burn



Leftover Debris

Leftover debris can be substantial.  Management of this debris should reflect your land objectives.  Burning cedar should be done with extreme knowledge and caution.  Smaller cedar debris can be used as bird and reptile cover, as a deer exclosure around hardwood regeneration, or to slow down water on slopes.

Remember Wildlife (see also Wildlife Management)

Brush has irreplaceable wildlife benefits when managed properly.  Cover, edge-effect, and food are uses for brush.  Brush benefits many kinds of birds, reptiles, and mammals.  It is also important to research the endangered species in your area to see if brush management may impact their habitat.