Monthly Archives: August 2019

The Importance of Planting Right the Tree in the Right Place

Why is it important to plant the right tree in the right place as opposed to the wrong tree in the wrong place? Here are the reasons why:

Planting the Wrong Tree in the Wrong Place Is…

  • Aesthetically detrimental: The tree may outgrow it’s spot and come into conflict with buildings, roadways, and hurt or destroy landscapes and lawns thus reducing liveability of property and property values.
  • Expensive: A misplaced tree may have to be pruned or removed in the future at great expense and causing a negative environmental impact.
  • Damaging to infrastructure, which is expensive to repair: A misplaced tree may eventually cause infrastructure damage (to sidewalks, driveways, house foundations, underground utilities, lawns, landscape and irrigations systems).
  • Inconvenient: A misplaced tree may eventually block or cause damage to driveways, sidewalks, roadways, windows and street lights and come into conflict with buildings. Moreover, a misplaced tree may result in cracked foundations and patios, broken water pipes, clogged sewer pipes and rain drains, and come into conflict with and cause damage to roadways,  sidewalks, and overhead utility wires.
  • Environmentally detrimental: Having to remove a misplaced mature tree is not only a waste of financial resources and human energy, but it is detrimental to the environment. This because when a mature tree is removed, all the benefits a large tree provides humans and the environment are lost. 
  • Decreases liveability: Trees too large for the area will take over a small yard and decrease usability of the yard and make the yard appear smaller. 
  • Conflicts with neighbors: Misplaced trees often grow to where they are over-hanging neighbor’s property causing bad neighborly relations that may last for years. Some people may be forced to move because of this problem.
  • Decreases home value: Trees that are too large for the yard make the yard appear smaller than it really is.

Planting the Right tree in the Right Place Is Beneficial…

  • Aesthetically: A well placed tree enhances the landscape, the house and property.
  • Economically: A well placed tree saves on future tree care, and adds assessed value to one’s property.
  • Environmentally:
  • And it feels good, brings joy and pleasure to people because it’s the right tree in the right place

Proactive Tree Care

  • Placing the right tree in the right place is not only good for the planet and is the right thing to do, but it has many other benefits as well. This includes…
  • Saving money in the long run by properly caring for trees. Proactive or preventive tree care is always less expensive than crisis management tree care.
  • It makes sense economically and environmentally to care for a tree before it causes damage or is a hazard. This involves putting the right tree in the right spot to begin with and then properly caring for it along the way.
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Addressing Street and Front Yard Tree Issues in Cities

For many years, I have seen cities in my area planting the wrong street trees in the wrong places. This folly has been a boon to my tree service business, but, overall, removing perfectly good trees because they have been planted in the wrong place is a bad thing for the tree, for the environment and for people’s pocketbooks.

So yesterday, I had a meeting with a City of Wilsonville planner to discuss with him ways to improve street tree placement in our city and some strategies on how to preserve existing mal-placed street trees. Below were my talking points. It was an excellent meeting, and hopefully something good will come of it.— Nathan

All well-informed people agree that we need to plant trees for the benefit of the planet. All of our lives depend on it for many reasons. 

In Genesis 2:15, we read,

Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

This is a standard English translation of this verse. If we look at the original Hebrew of this text that is behind the English, this verse could read,

Then the Yehovah Elohim took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend, serve, by implication to worship the Creator by taking care of and to keep, guard, protect, attend to, regard, preserve, reserve, save the garden.

This expanded translation sheds a whole new light on how the Creator expected man to take care of the environment. What it doesn’t say is to rape, pillage, recklessly exploit or indiscriminately remove trees from the garden!

Taking care of the garden (the earth) was the third command that the Creator gave to the first humans. Tree care and preservation is a divine mandate!

Even though my roots as a tree care professional go back more than 50 years, I started getting a clue about the importance tree preservation about 20 years ago when I began educating myself about tree preservation. Then about 12 years ago I became an ISA Certified Arborists and obtained my ODA Commercial Pesticide Applicators license and purchased the equipment to fertilize and care for ailing trees. I realized that we were removing too many trees that could be saved, so I learned how to save trees by returning them to health. Since then, we have saved hundreds of trees from the chain saw. HalleluYah!

It is our responsibility as stewards of the environment to plant the right tree in the right place, so that we don’t have to remove a valuable tree later.

The wrong tree in the wrong place causes no end of damage to hard surfaces (roads, driveways and sidewalks), for utilities (street lights, sewer and water pipes, irrigations systems), and this can result in thousands of dollars of damage to private and public property, potential legal liabilities for everyone, and thousands of dollars in tree mitigation including pruning, root cutting and removals, and, finally, often a perfectly good trees has to be removed resulting in one less oxygen-producing tree on planet earth all because people put the wrong tree in the wrong place.

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How old is that tree way up in the mountains? Hint: It’s older than you think!

Jefferson Park at an elevation off 6,000 foot is located at the base of 10,499 foot tall Mount Jefferson—Oregon’s second tallest mountain. Can you guess how old these trees are?

2012 Research

I conducted the following study in Jefferson Park, Oregon, which is located at the NW side of the base of Mount Jefferson (10,499 feet high). The elevation of this alpine park is approximately 6,000 feet above sea level.

The tree ring counts were made on dead trees, which I cut, and then counted the growth rings (one ring per year) with the help of a 10X power hand lens. I counted the tree rings of the cross section of each trunk four times to insure accuracy.

Tree Type        Tree Diameter       Number of Tree Rings # of Rings per Inch

Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana)     2.75 inches       45             16

Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) 1 inch             20                    20

Type unknown     6.25             80             13

Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) 2.75             70             31

Subalpine Fir (Abies lasiocarpa) 2.75             150             54

Subalpine Fir (Abies lasiocarpa) 3.25             130             40

I noted several things from this study:

  • The average number of rings per inch of the above trees is 29. This means that, on average, a 10 inch diameter tree at the 6,000 foot level in Jefferson Park is 290 years old! In the Willamette Valley below these same mountains, which is at or slightly above sea level, a similar aged tree would theoretically be four or five feet in diameter. 
  • Subalpine firs seem to have a slower growth rate than mountain hemlocks, which is by far the dominant species of conifer in the Jefferson Park area.
  • The trees that grew out in the open tend to grow faster than those that are under the shadow of larger trees (that are 12 to 24 inches in diameter) and are thus competing for scarce soil resources and sunlight.
  • The growing season in Jefferson Park is approximately only three to four months long each year.
  • Trees that are 20 inches or more in diameter in Jefferson Park (of which there are a vast number), must be of immense ages— probably 500 to 600 years old.
My son Jared is standing in a conifer forest at the 7,000 foot level. Although these trees are small, many of them are hundreds of years old.

2019 Research

In August of 2019, I conducted similar research at Demaris Lake (located below Chambers Lakes in area between the Middle Sister and South Sister mountains—each is well over 10,000 feet high—on the east side of the Cascades) as I did at Jefferson Park in 2012. There I examine the dead root of a white bark pine (Pinus albicaulis) at the 6,000 foot elevation. The diameter of the root was 4.5 inches. A one inch diameter root section had 100 growth rings making the tree root some 450 years old. The tree root was dead. For how long, it’s impossible to say based on simple visual observation. My guess based on the decay of the log from which the root came would be about 50 to 100 years making the root somewhere between 500 to 550 years old.

A 4.5 inch cross section of a tree root that is 450 years old and it has been dead for probably 50 to 100 years on top of that!


In the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington in the 6,000 to 7,000 foot elevations, there are countless numbers of pines, firs and hemlocks that are of immense ages. I suspect that most intrepid trekkers to these lofty alpine regions give these trees little more than a passing thought, much less give them the respect that they deserve as ancient entities and survivors in some of the harshest growing conditions on the planet. 

Moreover, it is amazing to think that the cousins of these same trees that exist in ideal growing conditions near sea level in the valleys below at the same age are four to six feet in diameter!

So next time you find yourself high in the mountains surrounding by these ancient conifers, I encourage you to take a selah moment to pause and reflect on these coniferous oldsters some of whose roots go back nearly to the Columbian era. Let these trees help you to get in touch with yourself—with your own ancestral roots. Let them to “speak” to you about being a survivor, about beauty, about growing old gracefully, about weathering the storms of life, about having your “roots” anchored firmly and deep in the good soil of virtue, about resilience and solidity in the face of an ever-changing environment. 

How does such an old specimen make you feel? Young? Small? Temporary? Humble? How does this affect your view of life—what you do, who you are and the mark­ you will leave on this earth—your own legacy?

There is much to learn from trees. Please take a moment and think about it. Better yet, go out into the woods and hang out with some trees. Take a note pad and record your thoughts as trees teach you something about yourself and life in general.

Moreover, it is amazing to think that the cousins of these same trees that exist in ideal growing conditions near sea level in the valleys below and are the same age as  are four to six feet in diameter!

So next time you find yourself high in the mountains surrounding by these ancient survivors, I encourage you to take a selah moment to pause and reflect on these coniferous oldsters some of whose roots go back to a barely post-Columbian era. Let these trees help you to get in touch with yourself—to “speak” to you about being a survivor, about beauty, about growing old gracefully, about weather the storms of life, about having your “roots” anchored deep in good soil, about resilience and solidity in the face of an ever-changing environment. 

How does such an old specimen make you feel? Young? Small? Temporary? How does this affect your view of life—what you do, who you are and the mark you will leave on this earth?

There is much to learn from trees. Please take a moment and think about it. Better yet, go out into the woods and hang out with some trees. Take a note pad and record your thoughts as trees teach you something about yourself and life in general.

Gallery of Alpine Tree Art

Trees plus extreme weather conditions plus high alpine elevations equal a high level of art that the world’s foremost human sculptures and painters down through the ages could only dream of emulating.

Be honest. What is more exquisitely beautiful? The photos below of the some of the world’s greatest art or what follows?

I took this photo of the Mona Lisa by Da Vinci when I was in Paris this spring.
Here’s my photo of the Venus de Milo in the Louvre in Paris.
Here’s a drawing by Michelangelo or DaVinci that I saw on my recent trip to London’s National Art Gallery.
How about this painting by the French impressionist Paul Cézanne that I took in London’s National Gallery several months ago?
I recently took this photo of a glass sculptor by Seattle’s Dale Chihuly in London’s Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.

… or these photos I took of nature’s tree art in the high Cascade Mountains of Oregon near Mount Hood and the Three Sisters?

The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. — Isaiah 55:12, the Bible

Praise the LORD/Yehovah! Praise Yehovah from the heavens; praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of Yehovah, for He commanded and they were created. He also established them forever and ever; He made a decree which shall not pass away. Praise Yehovah from the earth, you great sea creatures and all the depths; fire and hail, snow and clouds; stormy wind, fulfilling His word; mountains and all hills; fruitful trees and all cedars; beasts and all cattle; creeping things and flying fowl; kings of the earth and all peoples; princes and all judges of the earth; both young men and maidens; old men and children. Let them praise the name Yehovah, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven. And He has exalted the horn of His people, the praise of all His saints—of the children of Israel, a people near to Him. Praise Yehovah! — Psalm 148, the Bible

August in the Garden—A To Do List

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

YOU can help to make the world a better, a more friendly, loving and beautiful place by being a good steward of the spot on this earth that you are privileged to be borrowing for a time—your garden. Nathan, the Treevangelist, urges you to treat your spot on this planet like your own personal Garden of Eden paradise. Then notice the joy that it will bring to you! This is your Divinely mandated responsibility.  Your trees, shrubs, flowers and the wildlife in your yard will express their smiling appreciation back to you as they radiate love , joy and beauty bursting forth with vibrant and verdant life. Here is a to do list to help you to do just that…

Readers’ suggestions on how to improve this list are gladly solicited. If you, the reader, have any suggestions for additions to this month’s list, please put them in the comments section of this article, and I will add them to the list. Thank you in advance! — Nathan

August in the garden can be a quiet time due to the hot weather. Trees, shrubs and lawns begin to go into their summer dormancy (conserve energy and to withstand the stress of hot weather) and either quit growing or slow down. This is a good time to step back and to enjoy your garden and do a little relaxing yourself. You can always catch up on weed pulling—they seem to keep growing anytime. The main thing to remember is to water, water and water your trees and shrubs that need it. Most well established, deeply rooted trees and shrubs need little or no water. But many of your smaller plants with shallower roots, and especially your flowers will need constant watering. How can you tell if your larger trees and shrubs need water? They’ll tell you. When their leaves begin to wilt, they need some water.

Tree and Shrub Care

  • Birch trees: Thanks to the bronze birch borer beetle, a large number of the Pacific Northwest birch trees are dying. To make your tree less hospitable to this nasty and lethal pest, there are two inexpensive things you can do. First, apply several inches of mulch to the ground under the canopy of your birch tree. Second, with a whirly bird sprinkler, irrigate the area under the birch’s canopy. The more water the better, since birches are water-loving trees. Irrigate once a week for several hours during warm weather and twice during hot weather. These two actions will lessen the chances that the beetle will attack and kill your birches. The bronze birch borer beetle can be treated in the late spring, but treatments are expensive. Call GNTS. Inc. for more info.
  • Dogwood trees: Monitor leaves for signs of anthracnose. As the summer draws on, the symptoms on the leaves get worse. (See more info below.)
  • Maples (including Japanese maples): Monitor the leaves of all maples and other trees and shrubs for symptoms of the potentially lethal verticillium wilt fungal disease. If you see branch dieback, call GNTS, inc..
  • 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.
  • Pruning of trees and shrubs: You can do all aesthetic pruning of all ornamental shrubs and trees (except pines) at any time of the year including summer. Don’t over-prune the top crowns of thin barked trees (e.g. Japanese maples, flowering cherries), since the sun’s UV rays can cause trunk and branch bark dessication resulting in cracking and dieback of sapwood and even heartwood resulting in entry points for diseases and potential structural failure of branches and trunks.
  • Be careful not to do major pruning during periods of hot weather, since doing so exposes tender leaves underneath that haven’t acclimated to the sun’s ultraviolet rays yet, since they have been shielded by the layer of leaves you’ve just removed by pruning. Sun scald of these tender leaves may occur, especially on southern and  southwestern sides of the plant. Sun scalded leaves won’t kill the plant, but it looks unsightly and diminishes the plant’s ability to photosynthate (produce food for itself).
  • Pruning of large trees: Most trees in the temperate western valleys of Oregon and Washington can be pruned anytime of the year. 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. It is likely best to wait for cooler weather to prune stressed or sick looking trees. Call us if you have questions about this.
  • Prune fast growing ornamental shrubs (e.g. laurel, privet, photinia, laurustinus, barberry) that are beginning to look shabby. You may need to prune them again in the early summer for a more neat and manicured look. 
  • 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 can be done anytime of the year.
  • Watering: During the hot summer months, well established trees and larger ornamental shrubs need little or no watering. However, newly planted trees and shrubs will need watering for the first two to three summers until their roots get established. Regular lawn irrigation isn’t sufficient to give trees and shrubs the deep watering they need to survive the summer heat. During warm weather, deep water your new plants at least once per week. During hot weather, twice per week.

Plant Health Care

  • Deep Root Fertilization: Don’t do so after the weather becomes too hot. Fertilizer will push out new growth, which will likely scorch in sun. This is a waste of fertilizer and plant resources.
  • Dogwood Anthracnose: If you missed the spring sprays topical fungal sprays,  and you see signs of anthracnose on your tree’s leaves (reddish, purplish, brownish splotches), you can spray your trees with a basal bark fungicide. Call GNTS, Inc. for information on this treatment.
  • Monitor trees and shrubs for insect pests: Piercing and sucking plant pests (e.g. aphids, lacebugs, scales, weevils, mites, etc.) are now out and active. If major infestation occurs, plan a course of action to treat your trees and shrubs against these pests. Small numbers of piercing and sucking insects are not harmful to plants. In fact, they provide food for the beneficial, predatory insects that feed on them. To control harmful insects, one can apply systemic insecticides against piercing sucking insects (aphids, lacebugs, scales, weevils, etc.) via soil injections (one treatment gives season-long control). If applied according to label directions, this will kill only the harmful and not beneficial insects.
  • Spider mites will start to become active as the weather warms. Systemic insecticides are available against this pest.
  • Verticillium Wilt: The fall is the best time to treat, and spring is the second  best time. Maples are especially plagued by this disease. During hot weather, symptoms include smaller than normal cupped leaves in the upper canopy, often with the death of the entire branch occurring.

Elsewhere in the Garden

  • Put slug bait around your flowers and tender perennials like hostas. 
  • Apply two to three inches of mulch (e.g. bark dust, garden compost or wood chips) on all of your shrub beds. Covering bare dirt areas in your yard with mulch helps to prevent soil compaction from rains, and weed growth, and helps to enrich our 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. 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. Birds in the yard are not only fun to watch, but they perform the vital task of eating harmful insects. Keep bird baths full. In hot and dry weather, birds need water to drink and to bathe in.
  • This is a good time of the year to plant trees and shrubs. Visit your local nursery and select your favorite ornamental shrubs and shade trees. After planting your new shrubs, just make sure that you water them well immediately and regularly subsequently for the first two or three summers until their roots get established. During warm weather (in the 60s to low 80s), deep root water once per week. During hot weather (mid-80s and higher) deep root water at least twice per week.
  • Water and fertilize annuals and perennial flowers. The hotter the weather, the more water they will need. Flowers in pots and hanging baskets dry out especially quickly, and so need watering every day or two.