Category Archives: Trees

June 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.

What can we way about the month of June? It is a teenager wanting to become an adult as summer tugs at spring wanting it leave its adolescent tantrums and mature into stable and fruitful adulthood. This tug of war is characterized by sudden violent outbreaks of wind squalls followed by intermittent outbursts of petulant rain showers followed by parting clouds and bright blue skies followed by more showers and a few angry claps of thunder and lightning followed by more sun and the cycle continues until kid spring grows up and becomes Mr. Summer. All the while, spring’s teenage growth hormones are raging in nature as the grass grows twice as fast along with the weeds and everything else in the garden.  All the plants wanted and unwanted thrive in these  optimal growing conditions of warm nights, plentiful rain and cool yet sunny days. Your neat winter, manicured yard now resembles a tropical jungle that must be tamed with shears and pruners. Welcome to summer!

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 www.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

  • 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.
  • Hedges: Shear after spring growth and before hot weather. Shearing during hot weather may result in sun scald of foliage.
  • 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 us.
  • 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.
  • Ornamental shrub pruning: 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. 
  • Pine tree pruning: Don’t do major pruning of pine trees during the growing season, since this attracts sequoia pitch moth infestation.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Rhododendrons: Remove old blooms (called “dead heading”). Though it  looks better aesthetically to remove the dead blooms, it doesn’t hurt the plants to leave them on.
  • 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

  • Aphids: If aphids are a problem, there are a variety of ways to effectively control this pesky insect that drops its sticky honeydew excrement all over vehicles and hard surfaces. Ask Good News Tree Service, Inc. for solutions to your aphid problems.
  • Arborvitae Twig Blight: Spray in the spring and early summer when new growth starts at two week intervals.
  • Bronze Birch Borer: Treat any time this month. If your birch trees are dying, it is likely because of this pest. Treatments are available and effective , but expensive. Trees can be effectively treated from mid-May through June. 
  • Dogwood Anthracnose: If you missed spring foliar spraying, can use treat with a systemic fungicidal basal bark spray (available through a licensed commercial pesticide applicator). Symptoms of this foliar fungal disease include brownish, reddish purplish leaf spots getting increasingly larger as the summer draws on until many leaves are no longer predominantly green.
  • 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.
  • Lawns: Fertilize lawns. 
  • 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.
  • Tent Caterpillar: Apply systemic pesticide for season-long control.
  • Verticillium Wilt: You can still treat trees for this soil born fungal pathogen during the summer, but 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.
  • Continue planting annual and perennial flowers.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Fertilize your ornamental shrubs with a slow release fertilizer. If the shrubs have a layer of barkdust or other mulch around them, rake the mulch away and apply the fertilize to the bare dirt, so that it actually reaches the plant’s root zone.

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.

This month, the garden is popping with life as the naked deciduous trees and shrubs don their fresh seasonal leafy attire and celebrate the arrival of spring as they burst forth with all those pent up life-force juices ready to rock and roll. They’re beginning to flauntingly parade themselves down the garden’s catwalk with their fantasmic plethora and rainbowic panoply of 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 in! HalleluYah!

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 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 & 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

  • Put slug bait around your flowers and tender plants such as 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.
  • Begin planting annual and perennial flowers.
  • 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. 
  • 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!
  • Plant new lawns. Fertilize your lawn. Aerate and dethatch.
  • 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. First, they bring life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird sanctuary. Second, your singing friends 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. 

Happy gardening!

March 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.

E-A-R-L-Y is the operative word this March. With the mild winter, almost no snow in the Willamette Valley, and warmer than usual temperatures, the life forces within the plants cannot be contained any longer and are bursting forth. Amazingly, as early as late February, I was seeing some roses and flowering plums, among other things, beginning to sprout some leaves. 

The months of January and February, though still in the throes of winter, with their numerous days in the 50s with some pushing towards 60 degrees mark, shouted “spring” in defiance of the calendric dates. This spells one thing: time to drag out the lawn mower and weeder, for the garden awaits your dutiful attention. 

Come on and admit it. With all  the rain, you’ve caught a touch of cabin fever, and it’s time to give in to that nervous twitch, come out of your cave and, like a monarch about to burst forth from its cocoon, start spreading those wings, take to flight and joyously begin fluttering around from plant to plant in your garden paradise!

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 www.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

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


Tree and Shrub Care

Continue reading

Maybe you should leave that dead tree in your yard…here’s why

Life is a complicated and connected chain comprised of countless threads that are all tightly interwoven. Each one is co-dependent for its survival on the other. A dead tree figures prominently into this intricate web of life. How so, you may ask? Let’s explore this idea together.

As a tree care provider for nearly 50 years, for most of that time, on encountering a dead tree, the automatic, even thoughtless, reaction has been to remove it. However, now we realize that there are times when leaving a dead tree is the right thing to do in order to help preserve the delicate balance of nature and protect the chain of life that depends of that dead tree.

Without a doubt, if leaving a dead tree standing will imperil life and property, it must be removed; this is because it’s a liability and a hazard. However, what if that tree is in a place where it won’t be dangerous to life and property, when it starts to decay and fall apart? Or what if we can reduce the tree in size so that it is no longer a hazard, thus allowing it “live” after it has died?

It’s a fact of nature that dead trees play an important role in the balance of nature. As they are decaying, they provide food, protection and habitation for many things such as the soil, insects, birds, amphibians, mammals, plants and fungi. Next time you’re walking in a forest and you spot a dead tree snag, a rotten log or an old tree stump, don’t take it for granted and pass it by. Rather, stop and look at the microcosm of life that surrounds that piece of rotting wood debris. Notice how many life forms depend on it. In fact, there are some that will spend their entire life in, on and around that piece of rotting wood. They need it, and without it, they will cease to exist.

Consider how a selfless tree keeps on giving life long after the last living cell has died within it. And even then, when it has decomposed and melted into the earth, the topsoil that derives from that tree will continue to give life for hundreds or thousands of years. It takes about a hundred years of plant debris to make an inch of topsoil. Just try to imagine how many trees went into making that one inch. It’s an amazing wonder of nature!

The great thing is that you can be part of helping to preserve the earth by leaving stumps or snags in your garden and even working them into your landscaping. It may take some creativity, but it can be done if you stretch your gardening mind and creatively think outside the traditional box. The forest are full of stumps, dead trees and rotten logs, and we think it’s beautiful. How about importing this idea into your own garden?

Here are some photos I have taken that illustrate the points made above. Please enjoy. The captions will explain what’s going on.

This old tree snag located in the Columbia River Gorge is literally a high-rise apartment complex for all sorts of wildlife. This is how it works. First the woodpeckers arrive and begin to poke a few holes through the bark into a tree that has died. Then fungal pathogens arrive and begin to rot the wood in that hole. Then the woodpecker returns to the softened wood and chisels its way deeper into the tree. This process goes on for a while until the wood is soft enough and the hole is large enough for the woodpecker to make a nest inside the tree. Wood eating insects like termites and ants might get into the act as well and help to enlarge the hole. This helps the woodpecker in two way: the insects provides it with food all the while also acting as excavators helping to enlarge the bird’s home. But this is just the beginning of the repurposing of a dead snag…
Once the woodpecker has used the home, the rotting process continues and the hole gets progressively larger, so that other birds like nuthatches, owls and wood ducks can use it. Eventually, small rodents and mammals will find a home here. As the hole gets expands in size, even larger mammals like raccoons and opossums can make a home here. But there is still more to come. The old snag hasn’t yet fulfilled its final destiny.
Continue reading

December 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.

Winter is finally here. The leaves are down and picked up. The garden is at rest—a state of stasis, more or less. Time to kick back and give yourself a break from gardening for a little while until life begins to pop again in three months, unless, of course, you’re a diehard, incurable and inveterate gardener like me. In that case, you’re always messing around in your garden no matter the season or weather conditions! Gortex and wool are your best friends at this time of the year, aren’t they? For you hardy souls, here’s a checklist of things with which to keep yourself busy in your little oasis on planet earth during December-r-r-r.

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.
  • 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/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.

Elsewhere in the Garden

  • Put slug bait around winter flowers.
  • Plant spring flowering bulbs.
  • 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.
  • Winterize your irrigation system. Provide winter protection to in-ground irrigation systems by draining them and insulating valve mechanisms.
  • Winterize your outdoor faucets. Protect outside faucets from subfreezing temperatures, and drain and store garden hoses in your garage or garden shed.
  • Cut English ivy off of the base of trees. (This can be done any time of the year.)
  • Feed the birds. Dutifully maintain your bird feeders. As winter comes, birds have a harder time finding food.  Bring life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird sanctuary. The birds will thank you for your generosity by providing you with hours of entertainment, and by eating insect pests that harm your ornamental trees and shrubs. 

The Hymn of a Ponderosa Pine

A year ago while camping in the high desert of Central Oregon, I wrote a hymn about a giant ponderosa pine tree, while sitting on the banks of the Deschutes Rivers. As I gazed at and pondered it, I saw it singing a silent praise hymn to the Creator, the Almighty Yehovah Elohim. You can find my psalm below. 

This fall, I found myself camping along side of another river with my wife, this time in southern Central Oregon being amazed by another giant, majestic, ancient ponderosa pine tree. This time, I made a pen and ink drawing of this 500 year behemoth.

Here are my poem and my pen and ink drawing showcased together.

Here are a couple of pictures of the actual tree.

The inspiration of this poem and its birth occurred while sitting next to the  Deschutes River in La Pine, Oregon, during the biblical Sukkot celebration (the Feast of Tabernacles) in 2018, while gazing admiringly at the mighty, towering ponderosa pine trees (Pinus ponderosa) that stand as sentinels gracing its banks. At the same time, the words of the First Psalm in the Bible were floating around in my mind.

La Pinus1 ponderosa2 at De Falls3 River waters4;

A weighty5 giant pondering6 heavenly matters. 

Rejecting your former blackjack7 past,

Basking now in heaven’s light at last.

Arms and trunks are tanned a bright orange hue8,

With muscular limbs upraised in praise to You9

To the Messiah, the radiant Sun of Righteousness10!

O piney tree by the rivers of water,

With crown aimed high—you’re a leafy psalter11.

The still small breath12 of heaven’s heart,

Strums happily your needley harp,

To all who’re attuned in full amaze—

And hear the Spirit’s psalm of praise.

La Pinus ponderosa by De Falls River’s edge—

Precariously planted on the sloping ledge?

Gravity inexorably can’t make you slip,

As you mock the current’s undercutting grip13.

Against the storms you’re resolute, 

Exempt from its slavish tribute.

The desert’s torrid breath can’t make you wilt14.

It underestimates how well you’re built.

For deeply rooted are your hairy feet,

As they sate their thirst from the summer’s heat14.

Anchored firmly against the gale.

From brutal breezes that do assail.

Resting on the solid Rock15,

Heat and wind they can’t you shock16.

To the bank of Truth17 you tenaciously cling,

Imbibing the Spiritual life14 the waters bring.

As Heaven’s wind18 fills your leafy sail,

You clap your hands19 as me you regale.

Pinus preacher at the River Deschutes,

You cry aloud from roots to shoots.

A riveting sermon loud and clear

To open ears both far and near.

Quietly praising the King above,

Silent shouting of heaven’s love!

Puzzle letters from your massive girth20,

A visible testament fall to the earth.

Of heaven’s radiance they joyously glow,

Trampled by naive hikers there below.

But when combined these letters spell,

The truth of heavens evangel21.

This tree’s a wellspring of worshipful praise,

In every tongue with limbs upraised!

La Pine’s1 ponderosas who grace your river blue,

There is much for me to learn from you.

Your arms point upwards in heaven’s praise,

Past you to Him, my eyes I’ll raise22!

This is my heartfelt prayer to You:

With Your Spirit and Truth23 my heart imbue.

From Your tree of life24 I’ll always feed

Producing an abundance of living seed.

May I be too a tree of life,

That my heart-would25 with your words be rife.

Amein.

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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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