Author Archives: Nathan Lawrence

Tree Planting Site Analysis, Planting and Monitoring Specifications

There is nothing as beautiful as a healthy looking trees that are performing well and are long-lived.

By Nathan Lawrence, Owner of the Good News Tree Service, Inc. in Wilsonville, OR since 1985 — ISA Certified Arborist • ISA Tree Risk Assessment QualifiedState of Oregon Licensed • Commercial Pesticide Applicator • OSU Master Gardener

The following information and recommendations pertain to the northern Willamette Valley areas of western Oregon.

Planting the right tree in the right location will help to minimize plant stress (both biotic and abiotic), pests and mortality, thus ensuring better tree performance for years to come. This is a wise use of resources, economical, good for the well-being of the community and for the local environment and the earth in general. This also means that fewer chemical pesticides will be required in caring for the tree, which is a good thing for everyone and everything.

To accomplish these goals requires intentional planning and tree planting strategies. Prevention is the best medicine! Property owners cannot afford to pay someone simply dig a hole and drop a tree in it, and then  walk away after the tree planter has collected their money and moved on. Garbage in garbage out! If the tree was not planted with intentional forethought with an eye on long term tree survival, it is likely the tree will under-perform, require expensive (often chemical) treatments and may even die. If the tree is planted with strategic and intentional forethought, and then properly cared for subsequently, it will be more likely to perform healthily for generations to come

The following are some things to consider before planting a tree on a site.

Site Evaluation

Soil Volume

It is essential first to determine the soil volume of the planting area, so that the appropriate tree can be chosen for that specific site. The smaller the soil volume, the smaller the tree (at mature size) that can be planted in that area. Conversely, the larger the soil volume, the larger the tree (at mature size) that can be planted. I recommend that the tree size–soil volume ratio be based on the study entitled, “Our Recommended Soil Volume for Urban Trees” by Jim Urban et al at https://www.deeproot.com/blog/blog-entries/our-recommended-soil-volume-for-urban-trees-2/. If a tree doesn’t have the proper soil volume, its roots will not be able to uptake the amount of soil moisture and nutrients they need to be healthy, nor will they be able to anchor themselves sufficiently against wind storms.

Soil Type, Texture and Structure

This soil sampling tool is useful in taking a soil sample to determine the soil type of a planting site.

Next, we must conduct a soil test to 12 inches deep to determine soil type, texture and structure, so that the right tree is planted in the soil type that it prefers. This involves determining the approximate proportion of sand, silt, clay (and loam, which is a combination of the previous three soil types). This can be done via the standard jar test. This involves placing a soil sample with water into a Mason jar, shaking and then letting everything settle out in layers overnight or longer to determine the percentage of sand, silt and clay. Since sand is heavier, it will be at the bottom followed by silt and then by clay on top.

Soil structure involves knowing soil particle size to be able to determine moisture retention and the permeability qualities of the soil in question. Also, if soil is compacted, air space may need to be added through air spading, loosening the soil mechanically or by hand. Soil compaction can be assessed by how easily a pointed rod or soil sampling tool penetrates the soil down at least six to eight inches. If soil is compacted, roots will have a harder time penetrating, because pore space is limited, and so will be the air and water that will fill those pores. This will not only hinder root growth, but limit air to the roots, which is necessary for respiration or turning carbohydrates into sugar or energy for root growth. Compacted soil also hinders the roots from uptaking water and mineral. Compacted soil also reduces soil pore space, which hinders microbial activity, which depend on soil and water for their metabolic processes All of these functions are necessary for healthy soil, which in turn promote plants.

Soil Fertility

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Examples Bad (&%$#!) Pruning!

P—leeeaze don’t ever hire someone to “prune” your trees, no matter how good the price, if they do the kind of work shown in the following pictures!

I took these photos in neighborhoods where we have been the dominant tree care provider for decades, but to save a little money, the trees’ owners hired either El Cheapo Tree Service or FlyByNight & TakeUr$and Run Tree Service to “prune” their trees, and look what they got!

Sadly, these trees are not only painful to look at, but this can also harm the trees, devalue the property and engender the scorn and ridicule of knowledgeable and discerning neighbors.

The ISA Certified Arborists of Good News Tree Service, Inc. of Wilsonville WILL NEVER put their name on this kind of tree butchering! NEVER! EVER!

And what’s even sadder, is that the property owner probably thinks that this looks good. Ugh! (I wonder what their spouse thought of it, when they came home from work? I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the house when that happened! I can just imagine pots, books and end tables flying through the windows…)

Going from bad to worse…
Worser…
Getting worser and worser…
Really bad!
Really really bad!…
The worst of the worst!

There’s a saying among professional arborists: “Don’t call bad tree pruners tree butcherers. Butchers are highly trained professionals!”

December in the Garden—A To Do List

This month we’re featuring the fall colors of the world famous Portland (Oregon) Japanese Garden

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 and to others as they radiate love, joy and beauty bursting forth with vibrant and verdant life. Below is a to do list to help you to do just that.

It’s December-r-r-r! Doesn’t it seem like summer’s scorching heat just ended? Well it kind of did. The hot temps just ended in late October and the rainy season started on Friday, October 21 in the northern part of the Willamette Valley. We had approximately two weeks of fall, and then it seems like winter started! As of this writing (the second day of December), I have emptied about 14 inches water out of my rain gauge since October 21­—about four more inches than last year. Yes, this autumn has been full of contrasting extremes. Hot, summer-like weather for the first month, then a quick transition to the fall rains. After about two weeks of mild weather, the temps began to plummet. We’ve already hit 22˚ on my home thermometer plus numerous days below freezing already. Through the seasonal grayness, the resplendency of the fall leaf colors have beamed through in unparalleled extravagance. Now snow has even begun to fall at the lowest levels. Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood (6,000 foot elevation) already has a base snow depth of five feet—much higher than the past few years for this time. Yesterday, a few snow flurries occurred gently gracing the valley floor in my area with more predicted to fall in the next few day. So why all the weather talk? Because weather and climate change affect the plants in your garden. Drought and heat have been the major headlines for the past few years, and the plants are struggling as a result.  Many trees are dying. The wetter, cooler weather is a huge reprieve for our tall leafy friends. Plus it will help to kill some of the garden’s injurious plant pests. Will it continue? Who knows. But whatever happens, we will learn to adapt and to care for our gardens accordingly despite the vicissitudes of the weather, and this monthly garden column will be here to help you through it all. So stay tuned…

While you’re at it, take a few moments and scroll back through this same Good News Tree Service, Inc. blog and check out the archives for any tree and plant care articles that you may have missed. Also check out our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvcu2lL9NpgoXQtUFYyQShw, our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GoodNewsTreeService/ and our main website at https://goodnewstree.com. Please enjoy!

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

Tree and Shrub Care

Fruit tree sanitation. To prevent possible spread of leaf diseases, rake up and remove leaves from around the base of fruit trees. 

  • Fruit tree pruning. After the leaves drop is an excellent time to prune trees that are done fruiting and for aesthetics, since wounds will heal more quickly in warmer weather than occurs in winter. This is also a good time to reduce the height of overgrown fruit trees, since they are likely to produce fewer water sprouts now then when pruned in the spring.
  • Trees—winter storm issues. With the advent of winter storms and the potential damage that they may inflict upon 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 the potential of failure due to weak root systems and defects in trunks and branches. This can be done anytime of the year, but now, before the winter storms hit, is an excellent time to proactive assess the condition of your trees for potential limb and trunk breakage.

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. 

  • Plant or transplant trees and shrubs. After the cold, seasonal rains have started is a 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.
  • Prune your trees and shrubs. This is a good time to start pruning your deciduous trees and shrubs after the leaves have fallen and a tree’s branching structure is clearly visible making pruning easier. 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 to the pruning for you.
  • Pine. 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.
  • Mulch trees and shrubs. 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, and helps to insulate the roots against cold weather in the winter.
  • Water your plants. Are you serious? In the winter time? Yes. Because of climate change, rain is not falling as regularly and frequently as it used to. For the past few years during the winter months, it is not uncommon to go several weeks with little or no rain. This means that shrubs or trees planted earlier in the season may need a drink of water from time to time during these dry times. This is because their roots aren’t established yet and therefore don’t have the water uptake capabilities that established plants have. The symptom of lack of water, as usual, is drooping and wilting leaves.

Elsewhere in the Garden

  • Slugs. Put slug bait around winter flowers.
  • Bulbs. Plant spring flowering bulbs.
  • Leaves. 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. 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. Adding a layer of mulch (several inches thick) over any tender perennial flowers, especially if the weather turns extremely cold and the ground freezes, will prevent death of flowers like dahlias.

Every time of the year is the best time to visit the Portland Japanese Garden. My recent trip there didn’t disappoint!

  • Irrigation system. Provide winter protection to in-ground irrigation systems by draining them and insulating valve mechanisms.
  • Outdoor faucets. Protect outside faucets from subfreezing temperatures, and drain and store garden hoses in your garage or garden shed.
  • Ivy. Cut English ivy off of the base of trees. (This can be done any time of the year.)
  • Birds. Dutifully maintain your bird feeders. As winter comes, birds have a harder time finding food.  This includes both seed and suet feeders. During dry spells, keep your bird bath watering hold full of fresh water. Caring for the local wild birds brings life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird-friendly 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 your local humming birds that overwinter in our region. If possible, fill your humming bird feeders with a syrup that contains only 100 percent sugar (e.g., sucrose or dextrose) minus any artificial sweeteners, red dyes and other chemicals. Your birds will be healthier for it. You can find excellent bird care products and advice from knowledgeable and caring professionals at your local Backyard Bird Shop.

Rose Care

  • Pruning. Prune your roses down by about one-third and remove any dead flowers and dead or diseased canes. 
  • Mulch. Heavily mulch your roses. Organic mulch (such as wood chips, rotted compost, rotted manure) is the best. While barkdust helps to hold moisture in the soil, it contains little or no nutrients, so it doesn’t feed the soil and thus won’t feed your roses.
  • For more information on the care of roses, go to the Portland Rose Society website at https://www.portlandrosesociety.org/all_about_roses.html. 

Lawn Care

  • Fertilization. Apply winter fertilizer if you forgot to fertilize your lawn the fall.  
  • Rake leaves. What more can be said about this?
  • Lawn mower. Perform mower maintenance. This is a good time to take your mower to repair shop for some annual engine maintenance and blade sharpening. Do it in the winter when the repair shops are not busy and to avoid the spring rush so that you will be ready to mow your grass in the spring.
  • Caution. Avoid walking on extremely soggy or heavily frost-covered lawns to avoid damage to your grass.

November in the Garden—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 and to others as they radiate love, joy and beauty bursting forth with vibrant and verdant life. Below is a to do list to help you to do just that.

Sun, sun, sun and more sun until the rains hit hard and suddenly. Now it’s rain, rain, rain and more rain. Halleluyah! The trees need it now more than ever. The rain is what keeps our western valleys so lush and green. This why Oregon and Washington are top nursery productions states. This is why the Oregon Trail ended in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

Yes, essentially, the hot summer of 2022 lasted more than two months longer than usual with an unusually early start date at the beginning of July and ending date of October 21 for the northern Willamette Valley, which is when the fall rains began. This means that many trees and shrubs began to feel the stress of thirst. I have never seen more native Douglas-firs, western red-cedars, Oregon white oaks, alders, black cottonwoods and other native species experiencing stress and even dying than I have seen this summer. When you see 150 to 300 year-old oak trees turning brown and beginning to die, you know that this is a new phenomenon for them. Alarming! Not much we can do except pray for rain, and truly our prayers have been answered. Since October 21, I have dumped some eight of rain out of my Portland metra area rain gauge in just a little over two weeks. So get your Gortex on and step and into the rain and count your blessings! Thank you LORD!

While you’re at it, take a few moments and scroll back through this same Good News Tree Service, Inc. blog and check out the archives for any tree and plant care articles that you may have missed. Also check out our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvcu2lL9NpgoXQtUFYyQShw, our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GoodNewsTreeService/ and our main website at https://goodnewstree.com. Please enjoy!

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


Tree and Shrub Care

  • Fruit tree sanitation. To prevent possible spread of leaf diseases, rake up and remove leaves from around the base of fruit trees. 

Slow down…stop…take a deep breath…look up! Pause and reflect at the fleeting beauty of the trees’ autumn foliage. DaVinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, van Gogh and Renoir never painted anything so glorious! And it’s yours to enjoy for free! No cost except your time, eyes to see and your heart embrace.

  • Fruit tree pruning. After the leaves drop is an excellent time to prune trees that are done fruiting and for aesthetics, since wounds will heal more quickly in warmer weather than occurs in winter. This is also a good time to reduce the height of overgrown fruit trees, since they are likely to produce fewer water sprouts now then when pruned in the spring.
  • Large trees. 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. 
  • Mulch. Wood chips from your local tree service is the best mulch bar none that you can put on your urban soil to beef up its fertility to improve your plants’ health. Tree service wood chips are a different look than your typical barkdust mulch, and it may some adaptation on your part, but the price of this mulch is right—usually it’s free. Barkdust doesn’t improve your soil quality and does little to improve plant health, wood chips do, however. 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, keep soil temperatures lower during the hot weather (a benefit to roots), and helps to enrich our heavy clay soils. Also apply several inches of mulch over the tops of any perennials that may suffer damage from freezing temperatures to insure that they survive the winter.
  • Pine trees. This is the time of year to prune coast or shore pines (Pinus contorta) and Scotch or 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. After the cold, seasonal rains have started is a 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 trees and shrubs. You can do all aesthetic pruning of all ornamental shrubs and trees (except pines) at any time of the year in most cases. 
  • 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 us do the pruning for you. It is likely best to wait for cooler weather to prune stressed or sick looking trees or to do major pruning on trees. Call us if you have questions about this. Heavy pruning of some trees in the summer, especially conifers, can weaken or even kill them.
  • Storm proof your larger trees. Checking your trees for hazards and then take the appropriate measures to protect your trees from storm damage. 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.
  • Tree  removals. Tree and shrub removal and stump grinding can be done all year long.
  • Trees—storm issues. With the advent of winter storms and the potential damage that they may inflict upon 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 the potential of failure due to weak root systems and defects in trunks and branches. This can be done anytime of the year, but now, before the winter storms hit, is an excellent time to proactive assess the condition of your trees for potential limb and trunk breakage.

Plant Health Care

  • Arborvitae Berckmann’s Blight (Platycladus orientalis). Spray with copper twice 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.  
  • Deep root fertilize trees and shrubs. If the soil temperatures permit, hire Good News Tree Service, Inc. to fertilize your ornamental shrubs and trees (via hydraulic injection) to improve their root health during the winter season and to prepare them for the upcoming spring and summer growing season. When you do this, you will notice a marked improvement in the looks of trees and shrubs.
  • Fertilize trees and shrubs. Use with a low nitrogen granular fertilizer. The fall and winter rains will slowly dissolve the fertilizer into the soil and down into the roots. Roots continue to grow throughout the winter, so it’s good to feed them for the overall health and vigor of the plant. You can also have Good News Tree Service, Inc. deep root fertilize your trees and shrubs via injection of liquid fertilizers and soil conditioners directly into the root zone of the tree through hydraulic pressure.
  • Magnolia bacterial blight. If your magnolia bush or tree has blighted leaves and flowers (dark, irregular spots) and the new shoots wilt and die in the spring, it may be magnolia bacteria blight. To treat, the magnolia needs to be sprayed once in the fall and twice in the spring near bud break.
  • Verticillium wilt. Treat maples and other trees against this potentially lethal soil borne fungal pathogen. The fall is the best time to treat your plants against this disease, 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. Maples are the hardest hit trees by this disease. Other trees susceptible to this persistent and potentially lethal fungal root disease include ash, box elder, golden rain tree, mountain ash, prunus spp. (cherry and plum), redbud, tree of heaven or silk tree, southern magnolia, tulip tree.
  • Willow twig (bacterial) blight. Apply copper spray fungicide after the leaves drop.

Elsewhere in the Garden

  • Birds. Feed the songbirds. Dutifully maintain your bird feeders. As winter comes, birds have a harder time finding food.  This includes both seed and suet feeders. During dry spells, keep your bird bath watering hold full of fresh water. Caring for the local wild birds brings life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird-friendly 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 your local humming birds that overwinter in our region. If possible, fill your humming bird feeders with a syrup that contains only 100 percent sugar (e.g. sucrose or dextrose) minus any artificial sweeteners, red dyes and other chemicals. Your birds will be healthier for it. You can find excellent bird care products and advice from knowledgeable and caring professionals at your local Backyard Bird Shop.
  • Bulbs. Plant spring flowering bulbs.
  • Faucets. Winterize your outdoor faucets. Protect outside faucets from subfreezing temperatures, and drain and store garden hoses in your garage or garden shed. 
  • Irrigation system. Winterize your irrigation system. Provide winter protection to in-ground irrigation systems by draining them and insulating valve mechanisms. 
  • Ivy. Cut English ivy off of the base of trees. (This can be done any time of the year.)
  • Leaf clean up. 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. Mulch 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. Adding a layer of mulch (several inches thick) over any tender perennial flowers, especially if the weather turns extremely cold and the ground freezes, will prevent the death of flowers such as dahlias.
  • Planting trees and shrubs. This is a good time of the year to plant trees and shrubs once the weather cools down and the rains start. 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.
  • Slugs. Put slug bait around winter flowers.

Rose Care

  • Pruning. Prune your roses down by about one-third and remove any dead flowers and dead or diseased canes after the leaves have yellowed or have fallen off. 
  • Mulch. Heavily mulch your roses. Organic mulch (such as wood chips, rotted compost, rotted manure) is the best. While barkdust helps to hold moisture in the soil, it contains little or no nutrients, so it doesn’t feed the soil and thus won’t feed your roses.
  • For more information on the care of roses, go to the Portland Rose Society website at https://www.portlandrosesociety.org/all_about_roses.html.

Lawn Care

  • Fertilization. Late in the month, apply winter fertilizer which is vital to maintain healthy turf. 
  • Mowing. Continuing mowing as needed while the grass is still growing if conditions are not excessively wet and cold.
  • Overseed bare spots. When the weather begins to cool down from the summer heat, yet while the grass is still growing, and the fall rains begin is an excellent time to overseed bare or thin spots in your yard. Fall is the best time of the year to reseed bare are of your lawn, while spring is the second best time.

Oranges are the hues of choice in which nature’s chooses to adorn itself in this season. Enjoy this display in its magnitudinous glory.

Step away from it all for a moment. Relax, let your heart rate and blood pressure diminishes as you allow the peace and joy of it all to settle in and overwhelm you.

Now look up and allow a prayer of thanksgiving to bubble up from the depths of your heart. How to you feel? Try it. You might discover something new and wonderful from deep inside, outside and beyond yourself. Shalom

We’re Much More Than Hackers and Wackers!

At Good News Tree Service, Inc. of Wilsonville, Oregon, we’re much more than out-of-work loggers (although Nathan has experience way back when in that industry as well) who have fallen into residential tree removal. In fact, we come from a solid three generation, more than six decade family business with a background in the nursery, landscape, horticultural, farming and arboricultural business. And not wanting to rest any any laurels we may have, we’re constantly gaining education to keep up with new information and techniques in tree care.

As part of our continuing education, Jared (Nathan’s son and Good News Tree Service, Inc. Crew Supervisor and tree climber) and I just returned from the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture’s annual training conference at Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. For four days we sat in classes taught by some of the nation’s leading experts on a number of subject including scientists from several universities.

As ISA Certified Arborists, both Nathan and Jared are required to take continuing education classes to maintain our certifications, and conferences such as these are an excellent way to pick up the required CEUs quickly. Between the two of us, we spent some 35 hours in classes and workshops.

Why do we go to these events? For several reasons. We love what we do and are passionate about trees. We’re also curious and want to keep learning about our trade. We want to keep up with the last science and technology. We want to provide the highest quality service and the best and latest information on tree care to our clients. Plus, it’s just plain fun hanging out with a bunch of other tree geeks!

What did we learn about at the latest PNW-ISA tree conference? There were classes on wide range of subjects including soil science, plant pathology, business practices, rope climbing, chainsaw maintenance, invasive pests, tree physiology and biology, tree protection and preservation and more.

Here are some photos of this our latest adventure in the art and science of tree care.

Here Nathan is learning about soil science from James Cassidy of Oregon State University.
Jared is learning about the deadly emerald ash borer beetle that is a new visitor to Oregon from Dr. Richard Hauer of the University of Wisconsin..
Learning about the science of soils from James Cassidy, OSU scientist and professor.
Jared (left) attending a workshop on chainsaw maintenance.
Jared (left) looking on as Dr. Stephanie Adams, plant pathologist with the Morton Arboretum in Illinois, discusses plant health care.
In this workshop, Nathan and Jared learned about new tree climbing techniques.
James Cassidy teaches us about how to determine soil types.
Dr. Linda Walker-Scott soil scientist and professor from Washington State University lecturing about the importance of maintaining healthy soil.
Nathan relaxing on the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene after a long day of classes.

October 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 and to others as they radiate love, joy and beauty bursting forth with vibrant and verdant life. Below is a to do list to help you to do just that.

We are well into October already, and the skies have yet to open up with their life-giving rains. This year, summer began a month early, and it stubbornly refuses to concede to autumn with daytime temps, as of this date, still in the 70s and 80s. As a result of our multi-year long drought and overly hot summers temps, many of our native Douglas-firs, western red-cedars, black cottonwoods and alders are dying. Amazingly, I have even seen quite a few Oregon white oaks beginning to die. This is unprecedented! Many of these same oak trees, due to drought stress, are covered with a leaf blight known as anthracnose, and have also been attacked by zillions of chlorophyll sucking insect known as lace bugs. These pests literally suck the life out of the plants that they infest.  With regard to the stress I am seeing on many of our local trees, am I being an alarmist? Are we engaging in hyperbole? No! It’s fact. What can we do about it? Sadly, not much. Weather cycles have been occurring since the earth began, and trees have been marching north and south, east and west to adapt to climate change this whole time. This is evidenced by the fossil records, petrified wood, coal deposits and the skeletons of animals. The problem is that when the trees begin dying in your backyard and all around your neighborhood, this becomes an alarming and expensive situation, to say the least. So again what can you do? Water your trees and pray for rain. This is not good news, but what more can be said? 

We discuss these things and more on the Good News Tree Service, Inc. blog. Check out the archives for any tree and plant care articles that you may have missed. Also check out our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvcu2lL9NpgoXQtUFYyQShw, our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GoodNewsTreeService/ and our main website at https://goodnewstree.com. Please enjoy!

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 Lawrence, the Treevangelist


Tree and Shrub Care

  • Fruit trees. This is an excellent time to prune trees that are done fruiting, since wounds will heal more quickly in warmer weather than occurs in winter. This is also a good time to reduce the height of overgrown fruit trees, since they are likely to produce fewer water sprouts now then when pruned in the spring. 
  • Large trees. 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. 
  • Mulch. Wood chips from your local tree service is the best mulch bar none that you can put on your urban soil to beef up its fertility to improve your plants’ health. Tree service wood chips are a different look than your typical barkdust mulch, and it may some adaptation on your part, but the price of this mulch is right—usually it’s free. Barkdust doesn’t improve your soil quality and does little to improve plant health, wood chips do, however. 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. Also apply several inches of mulch over the tops of any perennials that may suffer damage from freezing temperatures to insure that they survive the winter.
  • Pines—pruning. During the cooler fall, winter and spring seasons is the best time to prune pine trees. For those into Japanese style pruning, this is the time to bud prune.

Our operation…

  • 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 in most cases. 
  • 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 us do the pruning for you. It is likely best to wait for cooler weather to prune stressed or sick looking trees or to do major pruning on trees. Call us if you have questions about this. Heavy pruning of some trees in the summer, especially conifers, can weaken or even kill them.
  • Tree and shrub removal and stump grinding can be done all year long. 
  • Trees—storm issues. With the advent of winter storms and the potential damage that they may inflict upon 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 the potential of failure due to weak root systems and defects in trunks and branches. This can be done anytime of the year, but now, before the winter storms hit, is an excellent time to proactive assess the condition of your trees for potential limb and trunk breakage.

Plant Health Care

Lace bugs on an oak leaf.
  • Arborvitae Berckmann’s blight (Platycladus orientalis). Spray with copper twice 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. 
  • Deep root fertilization. Deep root fertilize your trees and shrubs to promote healthy root development in preparation for next springs growing cycle.
  • Magnolia bacterial blight. If your magnolia bush or tree has blighted leaves and flowers (dark, irregular spots) and the new shoots wilt and die in the spring, it may be magnolia bacteria blight. To treat, the magnolia needs to be sprayed once in the fall and twice in the spring near bud break.
  • Maples (including Japanese maples). Monitor the leaves of all maples and some other trees and shrubs for symptoms of the potentially lethal verticillium wilt fungal disease. If you see major branch dieback, call GNTS, Inc. for a free evaluation.
  • Verticillium wilt. The fall is the best time to treat your plants against this disease, 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. Maples are the hardest hit trees by this disease. Other trees susceptible to this persistent and potentially lethal fungal root disease include ash, box elder, golden rain tree, mountain ash, prunus spp. (cherry and plum), redbud, tree of heaven or silk tree, southern magnolia, tulip tree.

Elsewhere in the Garden

  • Birds. Dutifully maintain your bird feeders. As winter comes, birds have a harder time finding food.  This includes both seed and suet feeders. During dry spells, keep your bird bath watering hold full of fresh water. Caring for the local wild birds brings life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird-friendly 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 your local humming birds that overwinter in our region. If possible, fill your humming bird feeders with a syrup that contains only 100 percent sugar (e.g. sucrose or dextrose) minus any artificial sweeteners, red dyes and other chemicals. Your birds will be healthier for it. You can find excellent bird care products and advice from knowledgeable and caring professionals at your local Backyard Bird Shop.
  • Ivy. Cut English ivy off of the base of trees. (This can be done any time of the year.)
  • Mulch. Mulch everything including all trees and shrubs. Apply a liberal dose of mulch over your perennial flowers, as well, to protect them from winter cold including frost, ice and snow. There is no reason to have any bare soil anywhere on your property, unless you like the look of unhealthy plants and pulling large quantities of weeds. Again, as noted above, your local tree service will happily provide you with as many wood chips as you need gratis. Just ask them. And don’t worry about the urban myth that unrotted wood chips rob nitrogen from your soil. I have been using green wood chips straight from my dump truck on my shrubs for 37 years without any negative consequences to the shrubs. If they look a little yellow, simply give them some nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Planting trees and shrubs. This is a good time of the year to plant trees and shrubs once the weather cools down and the rains start. 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. 
  • Slugs. Put slug bait around your flowers and tender perennials like hostas. 

Rose Care

  • Pruning. After the leaves fall off, prune your roses down by about one-third and remove any dead flowers and dead or diseased canes. 
  • Mulching. Heavily mulch your roses. Organic mulch (such as wood chips, rotted compost, rotted manure) is the best. While barkdust helps to hold moisture in the soil, it contains little or no nutrients, so it doesn’t feed the soil and thus won’t feed your roses.
  • For more information on the care of roses, go to the Portland Rose Society website at https://www.portlandrosesociety.org/all_about_roses.html.

Lawn Care

  • Weed control. Most perennial lawn weeds are more easily killed in the fall. Treat them with a broadleaf herbicide or pull them by hand.
  • Fertilization. If you only fertilize as part of your lawn maintenance once a year, fall is the best time to do it. In fact, your lawn will appreciate a light application of fertilizer in early autumn and again in late autumn.
  • Overseed bare spots. When the weather begins to cool down from the summer heat, yet while the grass is still growing, and the fall rains begin is an excellent time to overseed bare or thin spots in your yard. Fall is the best time of the year to reseed bare are of your lawn, while spring is the second best time.
Nathan wearing his Japanese jika tabi boots so as not to damage the thin bark of this Japanese maple while he is pruning it.
A Japanese maple tree the Nathan just aesthetically pruned.
Here is the same tree from a distance.
Here is the same Japanese maple before Nathan started pruning it.
Hello fall!

Nathan’s Private Japanese Garden of Eden

There is a saying, “Practice what you preach”. Well, on this channel, we talk a lot about Japanese style tree and shrub pruning, but we live it also. This video is the first ever debut of and your personal invitation to tour Nathan’s own private Japanese garden, which he has created from nothing in his own, somewhat eclectic, Pacific Northwest style over the past 30 years. When he started, the yard was a blank palette…well, not exactly. It was actually a non-landscaped, weed-infested garbage dump. Nathan hauled out a 30-yard dumpster load of old motorcycle and car parts parts, broken furniture, pallets, dead animals, and a lot of other junk besides, and then he got to work transforming it into what it is today. Like all Japanese gardens, this one has been a work in progress, and there is still more to be done. In the mean time, please allow me to share it with you as it currently is. Enjoy.