Category Archives: Tree Care

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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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.

April 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, your garden, that you have been given the privilege of borrowing for a time. It is our hope that the following to-do list will help you to do just that.

Nathan, the Treevangelist, urges you to treat your spot on this planet like your own personal Garden of Eden. May it become your personal paradise. This is your divinely mandated responsibility.  Your trees, shrubs, flowers and the wildlife in your yard will pay you back as they express their smiling appreciation to you and yours by radiating their love, joy and beauty bursting forth with vibrant and verdant life. Below is a to-do list to help fulfill this mission.

Let the show begin starting with the flora fireworks! This month, the garden is popping with life as the naked deciduous trees and shrubs don their seasonal leafy attire and celebrate the arrival of spring as they burst forth with all those pent up life-force juices as the stars of the plant world prance onto the garden stage to impress us with their performance. They’re beginning to flauntingly parade themselves down the garden’s catwalk with their fantasmic plethora and rainbowic panoply of star-spangled colors from the lowly perennial primrose to the ostentatiously regal Mount Fuji cherry tree. Meanwhile, the birds are serenading us with their twitterpational love songs, and even the croaking frogs with their basso profundo tones are jumping into the garden’s three ring circus and trying to steal the show. So what more can be said? It’s time to get up and get out there and to join choir by donning your garden shoes and gloves and picking up your handy tools as nature’s orchestra play its halleluYah chorus!

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 http://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 pruning. It’s time to finish pruning your fruit trees for fruit production. Also finish pruning your grapes, cane and trailing berries once the threat of major frost is past. Fruit trees can be pruned any time of the year, but it’s best not to prune them while they have flowers or fruit on them for fear of destroying part of your fruit harvest.
  • Finish planting your fruit trees. By getting them in the ground in the winter or early spring, they’ll have time to acclimate to their new home before summer comes. 
  • 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. Finish pruning 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. Early spring is still 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 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.
  • Pruning of ornamental shrubs. Early in the spring before a lot of new growth starts is a good time to 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 the near future. Prune fast growing ornamental shrubs that are beginning to look shabby. You may need to prune them again in the early summer for a more neat and manicured look. 
  • Reparative pruning. Repair winter damaged to trees and shrubs.
  • 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.

Plant Health Care

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

  • Apple scab on ornamental crabapple and fruiting apple trees. The first visible symptoms occur on leaves in spring as pale, yellowish, water-soaked spots the size of a pinhead. These enlarge, becoming darker and smoky in appearance, later taking on an olive shade and ultimately a brownish black color. Spots may be any shape but are frequently circular. Young infections often show a radiating spread of fungal tissue through the leaf, and such areas later appear as irregular, brown-colored infections. Diseased leaves can be curled and distorted and often drop early. This fungal disease can also move into the fruit to produce a scabby effect, hence the name “apple scab.” Several fungicidal sprays are required to control this disease just prior to flowering and after flowering. 
  • Arborvitae twig blight (Thuja occidentalis). Spray in the spring and early summer when new growth starts at two week intervals. 
  • Birch rust fungus. Occurs on leaves. Spray before symptoms appear on 10 to 14 day intervals—4 apps if infestation is severe.
  • Cherry tree brown rot blossom blight (Monilinia fructicola). Make 3 foliar applications starting at bud break and at 14 day intervals.
  • Coryneum blight (shot hole fungus) or cherry and plum leaf spot. This leaf blight affects ornamental and flowering cherry, plum and prune trees. Apply fungicide in the spring at flower petals fall, shuck fall and two weeks later.
  • Crabapple leaf blight. Apply fungicide as the leaf clusters are just opening up and make several more applications subsequently as per label directions.
  • Deep root fertilization. Trees and ornamental shrubs—deep root fertilize to promote lush, healthy-looking and vigorous crown growth. Urban soils tend to lacking in many of the nutrients that trees and shrubs need to survive. Many are malnourished or are starving to death, which is why they don’t look radiantly healthy are struggling with pest issues. Deep root fertilization helps to promote healthy-looking and pest-resistant trees and shrubs. The best time of the year to do this is in the spring and fall.
  • Dogwood anthracnose. Begin spraying with a fungicide at bud break and continue at 10 to 14 day intervals. 
  • Dormant spraying of fruit trees. Continue fungal sprays until after flower petals have dropped off.
  • Magnolia bacterial blight. Apply one fungal spray in fall and twice in spring near budbreak.
  • Lawns. Fertilize lawns.
  • Leaf blights. Spray trees and shrubs for fungal leaf diseases (e.g. powdery mildew, leaf blights, dogwood anthracnose, needle blights, etc.).
  • Monitor trees and shrubs for insect pests. When piercing and sucking plant pests (e.g. aphids, lacebugs, scales, weevils, mites, etc.) hatch varies each year depending on when the warmer weather begins. Usually, hatching of plant pests begins from early to late April. When consistent warm weather begins to occur, start monitoring plants for insect nymphs and adults. If necessary, plan a course of action to treat your trees and shrubs against these pests.
  • Pear rust. Apply fungicide in early spring about bloom time as the orange fungal telium (pl. telia) begin to appear.
  • Photinia leaf spot. Spray with a fungicide as new shoots are developing at 30 day intervals.
  • Piercing-sucking insects. Continue applying systemic insecticides against piercing sucking insects (aphids, lacebugs, scales, weevils, etc.) via soil injections (one treatment gives season-long control). 
  • Pine dothistroma needle blight. Apply fungicide at just before bud break and a few weeks later.
  • Powdery mildew. Apply a fungicides as soon as symptoms appear. Best efficacy occurs if used before symptoms appear. Use fungicide at 7 to 14 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.
  • Spider mites will start to become active as the weather warms. Systemic insecticides are available against this pest.
  • Tent caterpillar. Apply systemic pesticide for season-long control.
  • Verticillium wilt. Soil drench in the spring. Maples are especially susceptible to this fungal root disease as are cherries and plums.
  • Willow twig blight (scab). Apply two or three applications beginning when new leaves first appear at 10 to 14 day intervals.

Elsewhere in the Garden 

  • Feed the birds. Continue to keep your bird feeders full. Why? Even though we’re now past the winter season and there is more food available for the birds, having these feathery friends frequent your garden serves several purposes. 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. You can find excellent bird care products and advice from knowledgeable and caring professionals at your local Backyard Bird Shop. 
  • Ferns. Cut off last year’s fronds from ferns as new fiddleheads begin to emerge.
  • Flower planting. Begin planting annual and perennial flowers.
  • English ivy control. Though a decorative evergreen ground cover and climbing vine, English ivy is considered an invasive species, since it spread so rapidly and birds disperse its seeds everywhere. It will soon take over your yard and garden if not contained. Even worse, it grows up into trees, and even though it is not parasitic in that it takes nutrients from its host tree, it can eventually choke smother a tree foliage depriving the leaves of life-giving sunlight. The loss of foliage can stress and even eventually kill a trees. This is why it is imperative to cut ivy away from the base of your trees. The ivy climbing up into a tree can be killed simply by cutting through its stalks at the base of the tree. This can be done any time of the year.
  • Mulch. 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.
  • Slugs. Put slug bait around your flowers and tender plants such as hostas, primroses and other slug loving plants.
  • Vegetable gardening. Start making plans for your vegetable garden. Once the soil has dried out, you can begin working it for planting our veggies. Usually this will occur in late April or early May and sometimes later depending on the weather. The earlier you plant, the sooner you’ll be feeding on delicious veggies from your own garden! 

Rose Care

  • Fertilization. Roses are flowering machines and need regular fertilizing. They require three fertilizations per year. First in April, then at the end of June, and finally in late August. Fertilize roses with something like a 15-10-10, 20-20-20 or 30-15-15 fertilizer. Use a variety of types of fertilizers for best results.
  • Pests. Spray or treat roses with a fungicide as needed preventively to insure protection against fungal pathogens such as black spot, powdery and cottony mildew, rust and spot anthracnose. Apply a fungicide only after the rose has put out several inches of new growth. Excellent choices of both organic and inorganic fungicides are available at your local garden center or nursery. Some fungicides require spraying in the early spring as the new growth is emerging. Major plant pests include mites, aphids, thrips, rose slugs, leaf rollers, rose midge, spittle bug and sawfly. Determine what pest or disease your rose has, do some research online if necessary to ascertain this, and then visit your local garden center or nursery to find the right product for the job. Always read and follow all label directions. It’s the law!

Lawn Care (April or May)

  • Overseed bare spots. When the weather begins to warm up, but are not too hot and there is still regular rainfall, and when the grass begins to grow, it is an excellent time to overseed bare or thin spots in your yard. Fall is the best time of the year to reseed bare areas of your lawn, while spring is the second best time.
  • Start mowing. Begin to mow your grass every week or as needed. For the best results, do not remove more than one-third of the top growth of  your grass at a time. Grass can be kept shorter during cooler weather, but when the hot summer weather begins, it is less stressful on the grass to allow it to remain at about two to three inches tall. This also helps the grass to choke out any weeds that might try to grow up through it.
  • Weed control. Annual weeds, such as crabgrass, grow from seed each spring. A well-timed application of preemergence herbicide to stop them from growing is called for at this time of the year. A good guideline is to spread the preemergence herbicide as forsythia blooms in your area start to drop.
  • Fertilization. Feeding your lawn at least couple of times a year is a must. One fertilization in the spring and one again in the fall is the minimum requirement to maintain a healthy lawn.  

Happy gardening!


January 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.

For newcomers to the valleys of western Oregon, this fall and winter may seem to be wetter than usual due to the almost non-stop rain that has been falling on our thirsty ground. However, for those of us who have lived around here all of our lives, NEWS FLASH: This year has been more typical of past Pacific Northwest fall and winter seasons. Okay, in all honesty, we’ve probably had a little more rain than usual. Since October I have emptied probably at least 12 inches of water out of my rain gauge—maybe more. But I’m not complaining, and neither have many of our local trees that have literally been dying of thirst for the past few years. For them, this has been a welcome respite from an otherwise drought stricken and forlorn, if not seemingly God-forsaken, region. To be sure, rain is a divine, heaven-sent blessing for which we would all be better off were we to as enlarge our hearts by offering a prayer of thanksgiving to the Almighty Creator and divine Benefactor above, who is the source of all good things.  

In the spare time that you have while not tending your garden, we cordially invite you to scroll back through this same Good News Tree Service, Inc. blog and check out any of our past tree and gardening articles that you may have missed. Also check out our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvcu2lL9NpgoXQtUFYyQShw. I am regularly adding new videos for your education and pleasure. 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!

— J. Nathan Lawrence (fourth generation Oregonian, OSU Master Gardener, ISA Certified Arborist, ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualified, Oregon Dept. of Agriculture Licensed Commercial Pesticide Applicator)


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 trees. You can start pruning your fruit trees and continue all the way up until February. 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.
  • 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.
  • Storm proof your larger trees. 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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? Maybe. Because of climate change, rain is not always 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

  • Put slug bait around winter flowers.
  • 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 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 death of flowers like dahlias.
  • 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.  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

  • Prune your roses down by about one-third and remove any dead flowers and dead or diseased canes. 
  • 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

  • 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.
  • Other lawn care. Avoid walking on extremely soggy or heavily frost-covered lawns to avoid damage to your grass.

New Video: City of Tualatin Street Tree Screw-Up—Wrong Tree Wrong Place

City governments all around us are notorious for mandating planting the wrong street trees in the wrong places. The sad thing is that they keep repeating the same mistakes decade after decade resulting in tree roots damaging sidewalk, driveways, utilities, causing pedestrian trip hazards, and tree failures resulting in damaged property including houses and vehicles. Perfectly good trees that have been planted in the wrong places have to be removed costing much money and depriving us of valuable trees necessary for the planet’s survival. Will people ever learn from their mistakes? In this video, we confront this on-going folly and offer some solutions to the problem.

Why Our Native Trees Are Dying—What YOU Need to Know

Many native forest trees are getting stressed and dying all around us. In more than fifty years of working with trees, I have never seen anything like this. What is going on?

The reason numerous native Douglas-firs, western redcedars, true firs, cottonwoods and other trees are looking so sickly and some are dying has to do with water—or the lack thereof. None of us can live very long without water, and we need a regular supply of it to survive. Without that…well, you know what happens. Trees are no different.

Yes, the reason many trees in our region are dying is because they are thirsty. As of the date of this blog post, all of the Willamette Valley in western Oregon is either in a moderate or severe drought (https://www.drought.gov/drought/regions and https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/CurrentMap/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?West).

“Drought is a period with reduced precipitation and above average temperatures. Across all Oregon counties, 2013-2015 proved to be record drought years. Although these may be peaks in a drought cycle, trends show increasing average temperatures and decreasing average precipitation. In addition, winter snowpack has been disappearing earlier in the year and the duration of summer weather has been extended” according to the Oregon Department of Forestry’s article entitled “Drought Stress in Conifers” published in February 2019 (https://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Documents/ForestBenefits/Drought.pdf). The same article goes on to say that…

Drought conditions create water stress inside the tree and can reduce growth or cause mortality. Tree water stress is an internal shortage of water that occurs whenever water loss exceeds uptake long enough to cause plant damage or disturb physiological processes.

Drought damage in trees is due to one or all of the following factors:

Continue reading

Tree “Hugging” Is Biblical

Nathan “loving” on a giant black cottonwood tree along the Willamette River

Deuteronomy 20:19, Do not destroy its trees. In its commentary on this passage, A Torah Commentary For Our Times states, “While the commandment deals specifically with cutting down trees during a siege, Jewish interpreters extend it to cover all forms of wasteful destruction under the principle of bal tashchit, or ‘do not destroy’ … [all w]asteful destruction is condemned. ‘Anyone who deliberately breaks dishes, tears clothing, wrecks a building, clogs up a fountain, or wastes food violates the law of bal tashchit’” (various rabbinical sources are cite vol. 3, p. 143). 

In Genesis 2:15, Elohim (God) commissioned Adam and Eve to “tend/dress and keep the garden.” The word tend literally means “to serve, work, dress, labor”in the sense of a servant or stewardThe word keep means “to observe, guard, watch over, or preserve.” This was one of Elohim’s first Torah-commands to humans—to take care of or nurture the planet. Gardening is the oldest and noblest profession and was given to man by Elohim. Caring for trees and plants is a major aspect of this.

Do you view yourself as a steward with a divine mandate to help preserve, watch over, and guard all that YHVH has given you responsibility over including your body, your marriage, your children, your gifts and talents, your car, your job, your home and garden and everything else in your life? Do you view doing this as a good witness to those around you, as leaving a legacy for future generations, and as glorifying your Father in heaven?