Monthly Archives: February 2019

Plant the Right Street Tree in the Right Place

Well chosen and properly maintained street trees add much value, livability to a neighborhood and to our planet.

Street Tree Recommendations for the Western Valleys of the Pacific Northwest

Why This Is Important and  How It Affects YOU

The following list of recommended columnar or semi-columnar street trees for the western valleys of the Pacific Northwest is the convergence of several efforts on the author’s part.

This list is the distillation—the crème de la crème—of the analysis of numerous varieties of street trees from various lists compiled by numerous people, organizations and local municipalities. The best choices, in the author’s opinion, have been carefully selected. (More suitable street trees are being added to the list as they come to the author’s attention. So what makes the author’s opinion worth anything? Glad you asked.

Nathan Lawrence, ISA Certified Arborist and a second-generation Pacific Northwest arborist and horticulturist who has been earning a living caring for trees in Northwest Oregon since 1972, has put this list together based on long experience dealing with countless varieties of trees and learning how they react in numerous situations including wind, rain, ice, snow, blights, drought, attacks from pests, construction trauma, lightening, poor growth habits, structural failures, human neglect and more.

While owning and operating a tree care company in Northwest Oregon since 1985, we have Continue reading

The Wrong Street Tree in the Wrong Place…BIG PROBLEMS!

Street trees are beautiful to look at when driving through a neighborhood. They add value to a house and neighborhood, improve livability, are good for the earth and environment, and provide so many other benefits, as we’ve noted elsewhere on this blog ( and

However, the wrong tree in the wrong place can cause no end of problems for the owner of the tree. Fixing some of these problems can be extremely expensive. That’s why it’s important to plant the right street tree in the right place (as we will note in our next blog post).

In our decades as arborists, we’ve seen it all including the damage that misplaced trees can do to foundations, sidewalks, driveways, walls, houses, cars, near fatalities due to limb breakage and trunk failures, destroyed street lights, impacted utilities, plugged sewer pipes and busted water meters and pipes, and more.

Here are just a few examples of the problems the wrong tree in the wrong place can cause.

Here is a street tree totally enveloping a street light. Someone wasn’t thinking when they planted this tree!

Here is a public sidewalk that has been lifted by a street tree. This is a trip hazard to pedestrians and legal liability for someone.

A pedestrian actually caught a toe on and tripped over this tree root lifted sidewalk and did a nose plant on the cement. Not good!

This tree was too large for its spot. It was lifting the sidewalk in two places and had utilities running underneath it was well. Underground utilities and tree roots often clash causing all kinds of damage and expenses.

Street trees planted too close to walls can cause this.

Some trees are susceptible to splitting out due to weak trunk and branch structures. These are not good street tree choices, especially when they break out and land on streets, cars and houses.

We had to remove this weak crotched tree when part of it split out and landed in the cul-de-sac after a little wind storm.

This sweetgum street tree is loaded with hard spikey gumballs, which fall and then roll down the sloping lawn onto the sidewalk and street where people walk. It’s not hard for someone to twist an ankle while walking over a hard surface covered with golf ball like gumboils. If this happens, I wonder who’s going to pay for the medical bills?

Madagascar’s Trees— Bizarre and Other-Worldly Looking

Ever been to Madagascar, the earth’s fourth largest island just off the southeastern coast of Africa? Neither have I. But recently I trekked, or more correctly, strolled through the weirdest bunch of trees in my life—a Madagascarian forest. These other-worldly trees, look like come out of sci-fi movie or something. They’re some of the world’s rarest and most endangered trees, and are featured, of all places, at the San Diego Zoo’s Africa Rocks Exhibit.

Please enjoy this brief tour…

The Madagascar Palm

The Healing Moringa Tree Continue reading

Increase Retail Business—Plant Trees!

One thing is certain in the business world. The cost of doing business is not going down. After nearly 50 years in business, this I know. What’s more, owning a retail business means people must come to you and moving to a better location isn’t always feasible. So what can you do to attract more customers? Two words: Plant trees! Not only will planting trees increase profit, but you can help make the world a more beautiful place, and help the environment in a big way as well. How about that?

Numerous scientific studies have been conducted that prove that planting trees and then properly caring for them increases retail business not a little, but substantially. In fact, the investment cost of planting and caring for trees pays business owners back much more than what it cost. Here is some data to validate this point. Continue reading

February in the Garden—A To Do List

YOU can help to make the world a better, a more friendly, loving and beautiful place by tending your spot on this earth that has been given to you—your garden. Here is a to do list to help you to do just that…

Tree and Shrub Care

This guide is tailored for the western valleys of Oregon and Washington

  • Fruit tree pruning. Prune your fruit trees for fruit production. You can also prune grapes, can and trailing berries once the threat of major frost is past.
  • Plant fruit trees.
  • Mulch. Apply two to three inches of mulch around all trees and ornamental shrubs. This helps to fertilize the plants and feed the soil, and also protects them against weed growth and loss of water when the warmer  weather returns.
  • Pine tree pruning. Prune coast/shore pines (Pinus contorta) and Scotch/Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris). These two pines are especially susceptible to the sequoia pitch moth whose larvae burrow into the tree trunks during the growing season (April through September) causing the trees to exude large amounts of unsightly pitch globules. While this seldom kills the tree, the bleeding of sap is not good for the overall health and vigor of the tree. It is advisable, therefore, not to prune these pine trees during the growing season, since the pruning cuts attract the moth, which then lays eggs on the tree, which hatch into tree-burrowing larvae. Pruning should be done on your pines from November to March.
  • Plant or transplant trees and shrubs. Winter is good time to plant or transplant ornamental trees and shrubs. Cooler weather means less transplant shock to the plants, and over  the winter and spring, they will have time to begin to acclimate to their new environment before the stress of the next summer season occurs.
  • Pruning of ornamental shrubs. Do major pruning (called heading back) of rhododendrons (or rhodies) and other similar ornamental shrubs back to latent buds in trunks and stalks. Do this before spring growth begins in a couple of months.
  • Pruning of large trees. Winter is a great time to do aesthetic and structural pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs, since the structure or architecture of the plant is clearly visible making aesthetic pruning easier than when plants are foliated. Structural defects, which can cause tree failure, are more easily spotted as well. Also remove of dead wood, and pruning to reduce hazards. If you’re not sure what to do, or how to do it, call Good News Tree Service, Inc. for a consultation, pruning lessons or to have them do the pruning for you.
  • Roses. The best time to prune roses is after the threat of major frost is past.
  • Tree and shrub removal and stump grinding can be done all year long.
  • Trees. Have an ISA Certified Arborist with an ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (like Good News Tree Service, Inc.) inspect your large trees for the potential of failure due to weak root systems and defects in trunks and branches. This is best done when the leaves are off the trees. 
  • Trees and Storms. Storm proof your larger trees. Checking your trees for hazards and then take the appropriate measures to protect your trees from storm damage. After each major weather event, check your trees for damage such as broken or hanging limbs. If you have concerns or questions about your trees, have an ISA Certified Arborist with an ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (like Good News Tree Service, Inc.) inspect your large trees for damage or the potential of failure due to weak root systems and defects in trunks and branches. If you’re not sure about the condition of your trees or even what to look for, call Good News Tree Service, Inc. for a free on-site consultation.

Plant Health Care

Good News Tree Service, Inc. provides full plant health care services as listed below.

  • Arborvitae Berckmann’s Blight (Platycladus orientalis): Spray in the fall (late Sept. and early Oct., and again in early Nov. Spray again in early spring (Feb to Mar) if disease is severe. 
  • Dormant Spraying of Fruit Trees: Apply dormant sprays against insects and fungi.
  • Lawns: Fertilize yellowing lawns.
  • Piercing/Sucking Insects: Begin applying systemic insecticides against piercing sucking insects (aphids, lacebugs, scales, weevils, etc.) via soil injections (one treatment gives season-long control). 
  • Photinia leaf spot. Spray a fungicide early in February of four applications at two week intervals afterwards. Early spray is key to controlling this fungus.
  • Powdery Mildew: Apply a fungicides as soon as symptoms appear. Best efficacy if used before symptoms appear. Use fungicide at seven to fourteen day intervals, or more often if conditions warrant it. If a plant is known to have had powdery mildew previously,  apply as buds start to open.
  • Tent Caterpillar: Apply systemic pesticide for season-long control.

Elsewhere in the Garden

  • Put slug bait around winter flowers. Though the weather may be cold, slugs are still active.
  • Rake and dispose of ornamental tree leaves, or better yet, compost them and then spread the decomposed leaves back onto your shrub beds as a mulch next year.
  • Mulch all of your shrub beds. Put a two to three inches of mulch (e.g. bark dust, garden compost or wood chips) around perennials and other plants that might be sensitive to subfreezing weather.  Also, spread a fresh layer of mulch (e.g. bark dust, garden compost or wood chips) on all the bare dirt areas in your yard to prevent soil compaction from rains, to prevent weed growth and to enrich and help to condition your heavy clay soils.
  • Cut English ivy off of the base of trees. (This can be done any time of the year.)
  • Feed the birds. Dutifully maintain your bird feeders. As winter comes, birds have a harder time finding food.  Bring life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird sanctuary. The birds will thank you for your generosity by providing you with hours of entertainment, and by eating insect pests that harm your ornamental trees and shrubs. Remember to feed the humming birds, who have few flowers to feed on during the winter. Birds in the yard are not only fun to watch, but they perform the vital task of eating harmful insects.

In Search of the World’s Largest Cactus in Cabo!

There are some 1750 known cactus varieties (Cactaceae family) in the world. Most are native to North and South America with few species native to Africa, Madagascar and Sri Lanka and some Islands in the Indian Ocean. Hundreds of cacti are native to the Sonora and Baja deserts of NW Mexico and the US southwest.

Recently, I took a trip to Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. From Cabo, I travelled north about 40 or 50 miles along the coast for some fun in the desert. To my excitement, there were cactus everywhere. To this rusty, rain-drenched Pacific Northwest US web-toed native and professional tree-loving arborists, the unique novelty of an arid desert that receives only a couple of inches of rain per year and where forests of cacti abound stirs my flora passions and unquenchable curiosities to new highs.

Wherever I travel around America and the world, I’m always in search of the biggest and most unique tree species the planet has to offer. Well, I found one in Baja Sur California—the giant cardon or elephant cactus.

The largest cactus in the world next to the Saguaro cactus is the Mexican giant cardon or elephant cactus found in NW Mexico in the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur and Sonora. The maximum recorded height of the cardon cactus is 63 feet with a foot trunk diameter of more than three feet with several side branches. This cactus is slow growing and can live for hundreds of years and may weigh up to 25 tons. The saguaro cactus native to Mexico, California and Arizona generally grows to about 40 feet tall, but a few decades ago one blew down that was 78 feet tall. Currently, the tallest saguaro cactus is about 45 feet tall and is located in Arizona. This makes the cardon cactus, in reality, the tallest cactus on earth.

Though the cardon cacti I encountered weren’t the tallest giants of this species,  many that I saw were still 20 to 30 feet tall.

Here are some close up shots of this beautiful and exotic plant.I encountered in amazement several other varieties of smaller cacti as well.

Some cacti were even in bloom.

Here is the wooden skeleton of a long deceased cactus.

Ever see an aloe vera in full bloom? Neither had I until now.

Okay, looking for cacti wasn’t the only thing my wife and I did on this excursion. Looking at cacti was a means to an end.

Imagine going to Mexico to ride a camel—on the beach no less!

On more camel shot. I grew up on a farm and I love animals. What can I say?

And here’s a final cactus picture. This one is from Maui, Hawaii. Yes, catcus in the desert area of SE Maui just feet from the beach and palm trees. No kidding! Deserts and cactus are not the stereotypical scenes one sees in the picture post cards of Hawaii, to be sure, but I was there a year ago and saw it myself.

This is a non-native naturalized prickly pear cactus that was introduced into Maui in the 1800s apparently as cattle fodder. They get large there—about 20 feet tall.


While I was taking this photo I heard and then saw a barking deer nearby. No kidding, a barking deer! I couldn’t believe my ears or eyes. Look up the “barking deer of Maui” online. It’s quite a story!