Category Archives: Trees

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

Continue reading

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.

September in the Garden—A To Do List

The Willamette River at Mary S. Young Park in West Linn

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

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

Even though fall is knocking on the door with cooler nights, the daytime temps, though a little cooler, are still way up there, and our drought continues with no rain in sight. Another heat record was broken with August being the hottest month in Portland’s history.  To wit, I am seeing more and more large forest trees suffering from heat stress with many  dying. It is bad enough when our yard shrubs stress due to drought, but to see our old, colossal and majestic native tree species dying is, to say the least, alarming. We have never seen this before. Obviously, this is the effects of climate change—a phenomenon that has been occurring since time began. Fossils, petrified wood and coal deposits prove that trees have been slowly marching north and south for eons of time in their effort to adapt to nature’s cycles. For example, you find tropical trees in arctic regions and vice versa as proof of this. The strong trees will survive while the weak ones will die off—the survival of the fittest. Drop man into the middle of this ongoing and relentless cycle, and it is disturbing to see a few of the trees in the forest behind your backyard dying, in our parks or in the state and national forests succumbing to these forces beyond man’s control. But that’s life, and like the trees, we too will adapt to nature’s endless circle of life and death.

But despite it all, there is still joy to found in the garden. The flowers are still smiling joyfully as the humming birds show off their aerial acrobatics in their dive bombing raids of flower’s sweet nectar. The trees are waving their leafy arms in the gentle breezes, the green grass is still growing, and yes the weeds are too. So extricate yourself from that black, depressing hole called watching or reading the news, take a break and get out in the garden!

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 Lawrence, the Treevangelist


Tree and Shrub Care

  • Drought issues. The Willamette Valley remains in a serious drought (as well as the rest of this region). For a number of years, the fall, winter and spring rains have not been enough to sufficiently hydrate the soils to maintain the trees during the dry summer months. Each day, a tree sucks up vast quantities of water to keep it hydrated. If the soil moisture content is insufficient, then a tree will dry out, and begin to suffer by showing signs of stress. We are seeing more and more large native trees (e.g., Douglas-fir, western redcedar, spruce, native firs) getting stressed while some are even losing the battle to survive and are dying. If you have a tree that is showing signs of drought stress (e.g., pitch globules exuding from the bark, excess needle drop, yellowing of foliage), then you need to water your tree to save it, or pay the high price to have it removed after it has died. With a whirlybird, impulse or similar sprinkler or soaker hose, saturate the soil under the tree out to the tree’s drip zone (i.e., the outer tip of tree’s crown) for several hours once or twice a week to achieve deep root watering. Typical lawn irrigation systems don’t put out enough water to adequately irrigate the deeper roots of a tree, so don’t rely on your irrigation system to proved the water that large trees need to survive. 
  • Fruit trees. This is an optimal time to prune trees that are done fruiting, since wounds will heal more quickly in warm weather. This is 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. 
  • Maples (including Japanese maples). Monitor the leaves of all maples and other trees and shrubs for symptoms of the potentially lethal verticillium wilt fungal disease. If you see branch dieback, call GNTS, Inc. 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.
  • 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.
  • Pines. Once the hot weather has passed, you can begin to prune your pines.
  • Prune fast growing ornamental shrubs (e.g., laurel, privet, photinia, laurustinus, barberry) that are beginning to look shabby. You may need to prune them again in the early summer for a more neat and manicured look.
  • Pruning of large trees. Most trees in the temperate western valleys of Oregon and Washington can be pruned anytime of the year. If you’re not sure what to do, or how to do it, call Good News Tree Service, Inc. for a consultation, pruning lessons or to have them do the pruning for you. It is likely best to wait for cooler weather to prune stressed or sick looking trees. Call us if you have questions about this.
  • Pruning of trees and shrubs. You can do all aesthetic pruning of all ornamental shrubs and trees (except pines) at any time of the year including summer. Don’t over-prune the top crowns of thin barked trees (e.g. Japanese maples, flowering cherries), since the sun’s UV rays can cause trunk and branch bark dessication resulting in cracking and dieback of sapwood and even heartwood resulting in entry points for diseases and potential structural failure of branches and trunks.

Be careful not to do major pruning during periods of hot weather, since doing so exposes tender leaves underneath that haven’t acclimated to the sun’s ultraviolet rays yet, since they have been shielded by the layer of leaves you’ve just removed by pruning. Sun scald of these tender leaves may occur, especially on southern and  southwestern sides of the plant. Sun scalded leaves won’t kill the plant, but it looks unsightly and diminishes the plant’s ability to photosynthate (produce food for itself). 

  • 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.

Jared and crew removing a dead tree along the Willamette River.

  • Watering. During the hot summer months, well established trees and larger ornamental shrubs need little or no watering under normal weather conditions. 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

Nathan deep root fertilizing a tree.
  • Deep root fertilization. Deep root fertilize your trees and shrubs to promote healthy root development in preparation for next springs growing cycle. Fall and spring are the best times to give your plants a shot of liquid fertilizer into their roots zones via hydraulic injection Good News Tree Service, Inc. provides this service.
  • Dogwood anthracnose. If you missed the spring sprays topical fungal sprays,  and you see signs of anthracnose on your tree’s leaves (reddish, purplish, brownish splotches), you can spray your trees with a basal bark fungicide. Call GNTS, Inc. for information on this treatment.
  • Verticillium wilt. The fall is the best time to treat, and spring is the second  best time. Maples are especially plagued by this disease. During hot weather, symptoms include smaller than normal cupped leaves in the upper canopy, often with the death of the entire branch occurring.

Elsewhere in the Garden

A wild aster along the Willamette River at Mary S. Young Park in West Linn.
  • Birds. Dutifully maintain your bird feeders. Bring life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird sanctuary. The birds will thank you for your generosity by providing you with hours of entertainment, and by eating insect pests that harm your ornamental trees and shrubs. Birds in the yard are not only fun to watch, but they perform the vital task of eating harmful insects. Keep bird baths full. In hot and dry weather, birds need water to drink and to bathe in.  For more information on caring for the birds, check out https://backyardbirdshop.com.
  • Ivy (an invasive species). Cut English ivy off of the base of trees. (This can be done any time of the year.)
  • Mulching. 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.
  • Planting. 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.
  • Slugs. Put slug bait around your flowers and tender perennials like hostas.

Rose Care

  • Pruning. 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

  • Irrigation. Water deeply, slowly and as infrequently as possible. Try to avoid watering established lawns more than two or three times per week if possible except during extremely in hot conditions. It is not a bad idea to let the soil under your grass to dry out for a short time in between watering as this forces the grass roots to grow deeper in search of water thus making for a more drought tolerant lawn. It is best not to rely on timers for irrigation as temperatures will dictate water needs in addition to lack of rainfall. However, timers are helpful if you have lawns areas that are to large to micromanage or you will be gone for a period of time. 
  • Mowing. Mow once a week or as needed, removing no more than one-third of the height of the grass to avoid stressing it. Mow regularly to prevent weed seed spread.
  • Letting your lawn go dormant. If you want to save on your water bill during the summer months, you can skip watering your lawn if you don’t mind it turning brown. It is not dead; it is merely sleeping or in a dormant state. When the rains start up again in the fall, your lawn will turn green and start growing again. 
Artistic beauty comes in many forms and is to be found everywhere in the forest. Take a walk and open your eyes and your heart do nature’s wonders.
September is wild blackberry season ripe for free picking and eating.
Even common weeds like fireweed adorn the garden of God’s earth. Stop and enjoy!
One of the hundreds of laceleaf Japanese maples we regularly prune. This time from another perspective.
At Good News Tree Service, Inc., we try to save as many trees as possible, but sometimes trees die. In this case, it was the drought that killed this cedar tree, sadly.

Help Wanted—Come Join Our Team!

Wilsonville Tree Service Employment Opportunities

Full or Part-time positions available at Good News Tree Service, Inc. of Wilsonville, Oregon. We are seeking associates who are passionate about a career in the tree care industry.

Qualifications

  • Some tree or shrub pruning experience is preferable, or you must have a quick ability to learn basic pruning skills through on-the-job training and self-directed learning through on-line videos and reading.
  • Valid drivers licence and proof of insurance required.
  • Willing to work hard in all types of weather conditions.
  • Must be able to follow instructions and eager to learn.
  • Must be clean and neat in appearance, polite, well-mannered, possess good morals and ethics and have clean speech.

Pay

  • Starting at $18 to 25 per hour (depending on experience and qualification) for ground workers. After a two month probation period followed by favorable evaluation, pay increase are possible.

Advantages of Working for Good News Tree Service, Inc. of Wilsonville

  • Get to work for a small, family owned business where you’re treated with care and dignity.
  • Learn a variety of arboricultural skills.
  • Work in many varied situations—a different job site every day.
  • Nearly all of our jobs are within 5 to 15 minutes of Wilsonville.
  • We work mostly on high-end (beautiful) properties.

Job Description

  • Brush dragging and clean up.
  • Become a ground-worker under a high climbing arborist.
  • Basic tree and shrub pruning.
  • Operating and maintaining a brush chipper, chainsaw, stump grinder and other small equipment.

Opportunities and Advancement

  • After learning the basics of being a ground worker, one can advance to basic pruning of trees and shrubs, then onto climbing of small trees, then onto larger trees including pruning and removals, aerial lift operator, crew leader or project supervisor, or a plant health care specialist.
  • We will work with you personally to develop your skills in the tree care industry and help you advance in your career path including becoming an ISA Certified Arborist and beyond.

Check us out at www.goodnewstree.com, Facebook or on YouTube.

Call Nathan at (503) 789-9881 for more information

July in the Garden—A To Do List

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

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

In July as Americans, we celebrate our independence from extreme and overreaching  governmental tyranny as well as our liberty and freedom to pursue our happiness, to speak freely and practice our beliefs and religions according to the dictates of our own individual conscience without fear of others fascistically imposing their beliefs upon us.  To be sure, our freedom and liberty from oppression is a God-given blessing that most other countries don’t have!

In a similar though slightly oblique vein, in the garden, our plants have a celebration of their own going on as they declare their freedom to express their full potential as they burst forth with a panoply of starburst blooms of all shades of red, white and blue. The photo above is a montage of flowers from my own garden.

Let’s all rejoice along with our flowers and be thankful for the blessings that we have of living in the greatest nation on God’s green earth! As one person recently said in light of current negative events rocking the U.S. and the world, it is all too easy to focus on the weeds in the garden instead of on the beautiful flowers, vegetables along with the trees and shrubs. Let’s all work together at pulling the weeds out of our own personal garden without destroying other people’s gardens along with all the other good plants that are out there! Those who are  wise among us will ponder these words and will work to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, that is, without destroying the whole garden of our society in the process. 

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!

This information is courtesy of Nathan Lawrence, the Treevangelist
(Preaching the good news of tree care and preservation and the good news or gospel of Jesus Christ—Yeshua the Messiah, who lovingly delivers those who trust in him from the wages of their sin which is death. HalleluYah! Now that is great news!!!)


Tree and Shrub Care

  • Birch trees. Thanks to the bronze birch borer beetle, a large number of the Pacific Northwest birch trees are dying. To make your tree less hospitable to this nasty and lethal pest, there are two inexpensive things you can do. First, apply several inches of mulch to the ground under the canopy of your birch tree. Second, with a whirly bird sprinkler, irrigate the area under the birch’s canopy. The more water the better, since birches are water-loving trees. Irrigate once a week for several hours during warm weather and twice during hot weather. These two actions will lessen the chances that the beetle will attack and kill your birches. The bronze birch borer beetle can be treated in the late spring, but treatments are expensive. Call GNTS. Inc. for more info.
  • Dogwood trees. Monitor leaves for signs of anthracnose. (See more info below.)
  • Hedge. Shear after spring growth and before hot weather. Shearing during hot weather may result in sun scald of newly exposed under-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 GNTS, inc.
  • Mulch. Apply two to three inches of mulch around all trees and ornamental shrubs. This helps to fertilize the plants and feed the soil, and also protects them against weed growth and loss of water when the warmer  weather returns.
  • Pine tree pruning. Don’t do major pruning of pine trees during the growing season, since this attracts sequoia pitch moth infestation.
  • Pruning of trees and shrubs. You can do all aesthetic pruning of all ornamental shrubs and trees (except pines) at any time of the year including summer. Don’t over-prune the top crowns of thin barked trees (e.g. Japanese maples, flowering cherries), since the sun’s UV rays can cause trunk and branch bark dessication resulting in cracking and dieback of sapwood and even heartwood resulting in entry points for diseases and potential structural failure of branches and trunks.
  • Be careful not to do major pruning during periods of hot weather, since doing so exposes tender leaves underneath that haven’t acclimated to the sun’s ultraviolet rays yet, since they have been shielded by the layer of leaves you’ve just removed by pruning. Sun scald of these tender leaves may occur, especially on southern and  southwestern sides of the plant. Sun scalded leaves won’t kill the plant, but it looks unsightly and diminishes the plant’s ability to photosynthate (produce food for itself).
  • Pruning of large trees. Most trees in the temperate western valleys of Oregon and Washington can be pruned anytime of the year. If you’re not sure what to do, or how to do it, call Good News Tree Service, Inc. for a consultation, pruning lessons or to have them do the pruning for you. It is likely best to wait for cooler weather to prune stressed or sick looking trees. Call us if you have questions about this.
  • Prune fast growing ornamental shrubs (e.g. laurel, privet, photinia, laurustinus, barberry) that are beginning to look shabby. You may need to prune them again in the early summer for a more neat and manicured look. 
  • Tree and shrub removal and stump grinding can be done all year long. 
  • Trees: Have an ISA Certified Arborist with an ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (like Good News Tree Service, Inc.) inspect your large trees for the potential of failure due to weak root systems and defects in trunks and branches. This can be done anytime of the year.
  • Conifer trees that are drought stressed. The Willamette Valley remains in a severe drought. Large native trees (e.g. Douglas-fir, western red-cedar, spruce, native firs) are getting stressed and some are dying. If you have a tree that is showing signs of drought stress (e.g. pitch globules exuding from the bark, excess needle drop, yellowing of foliage), then you need to water your tree to save it, or pay the high price to have it removed after it has died. With a whirlybird, impulse or similar sprinkler or soaker hose, saturate the soil under the tree out to the tree’s drip zone (i.e. the outer tip of tree’s crown) for several hours once or twice a week to achieve deep root watering. Typical lawn irrigation systems don’t put out enough water to adequately irrigate the deeper roots of a tree, so don’t rely on your irrigation system to proved the water that large trees need to survive.
  • Watering trees and shrubs. During the hot summer months, well established trees and larger ornamental shrubs need little or no watering. However, newly planted trees and shrubs will need watering for the first two to three summers until their roots get established. Regular lawn irrigation isn’t sufficient to give trees and shrubs the deep watering they need to survive the summer heat. During warm weather, deep water your new plants at least once per week. During hot weather, twice per week.

Plant Health Care

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

  • Birds feeding. Don’t stop feeding the birds even during the spring and summer seasons. Dutifully maintain your bird feeders. 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. So bring life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird sanctuary. Don’t forget to keep bird baths full. In hot and dry weather, birds need water to drink and to bathe in. Fertilizing shrubs. 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. 
  • Flowers. Continue planting annual and perennial flowers. 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.
  • Ivy. Cut English ivy off of the base of trees. (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.
  • Planting trees and shrubs. 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.
  • Slugs and snails. Put slug bait around your flowers and tender perennials like hostas.
  • Vegetable garden. 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! 
  • 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.

Rose Care

  • 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! 
  • Watering. During prolonged warm, dry weather, deep root water your roses at least once a week. A rose needs five gallons of water per plant per week.
  • As needed, remove spent flowers after they are done blooming.

Lawn Care

  • General lawn maintenance. Summer is about mowing, watering, and pest control. Stay on top of mowing for a healthy lawn.
  • Irrigation. Water deeply, slowly and as infrequently as possible. Try to avoid watering established lawns more than two or three times per week if possible except during extremely in hot conditions. It is not a bad idea to let the soil under your grass to dry out for a short time in between watering as this forces the grass roots to grow deeper in search of water thus making for a more drought tolerant lawn. It is best not to rely on timers for irrigation as temperatures will dictate water needs in addition to lack of rainfall. However, timers are helpful if you have lawns areas that are to large to micromanage or you will be gone for a period of time. 
  • Mowing. Mow once a week, removing no more than one-third of the height of the grass to avoid stressing it. Mow regularly to prevent weed seed spread.
  • Letting your lawn go dormant. If you want to save on your water bill during the summer months, you can skip watering your lawn if you don’t mind it turning brown. It is not dead; it is merely sleeping or in a dormant state. When the rains start up again in the fall, your lawn will turn green and start growing again. 
Jared (Nathan’s son) and Nathan of Good News Tree Service, Inc. in Wilsonville, Oregon in front of their vintage 1952 GMC tree service mascot truck.

North Dakota’s Pitiful and Yet Amazing Forest

Jared and Nathan Lawrence of Good News Tree Services, Inc. exploring a North Dakota forest.

God bless North Dakota. This state has a bleak and somewhat forlorn majesty and beauty of its own, although sometimes you have to look below the surface to find it. But trees, due to the lack thereof, are not this state’s crowning glory, and the trees that are here have little to boast about compared to their glorious cousins that inhabit the lofty mountains and verdant valleys of the western regions of the Pacific Northwest.

In all reality, it seems that North Dakota has more bent, tilting, and clanking farm windmills, more lifeless, and rusting century-old threshing machines sleeping silently out in farmers’ fields along with countless grain silos standing as sentinels over railroad tracks, as well as abandoned and derelict barns and houses than it has trees trees. So when I discovered that the Minot area of north central North Dakota, just below the Canadian border, where I am visiting family, had an experimental forest and an arboretum, this tree geek arborist had to check it out.

Forest and arboretum, I mulled in my mind. Naturally this Oregon native conjured up park-like images in his fertile imagination.

Flat, open farmland in North Dakota. Yes. Treed forests? Not so much.

To get to this forest, we had to drive for miles through endless, virtually treeless fields of wheat, soybean, rapeseed, flaxseed and sunflower along with pastures speckled with sheep and cattle sprawling across the pancake flat landscape as far as the eye could see, while traveling at 70 miles per hour on a straight, virtually carless highways that reached to the horizon. The only trees, for the most part, were the phalanx like windbreaks planted around the occasional lone farmhouse to shield it from the howling winds and the searing summer heat. The landscape also boasted, if you can call it that, a few thirsty trees growing along the fringes of a few creeks and watersheds here and there, and along old fence lines where birds have perched and deposited tree seeds. After all of this, we finally reached the Denbigh Experimental Forest.

As a native Pacific Northwesterner, who has spent a lifetime tramping up and down in our coastal and Cascade Mountains, I wasn’t sure what to expect in North Dakota where there are probably more honking Canada geese grazing in wheat fields than trees.

My initial response was: “This is it??? This is what they call a forest?”

The Denbigh Experimental Forest in northwestern North Dakota east of Minot.

We exited our car and hit a hiking trail. Immediately the forest floor was littered with the carcasses of countless trees that had succumbed to the pitiless ravages of the fierce climate and harsh growing conditions that this region offers its flora. Many more trees were standing lifeless or were half dead. The fierce plains winds had knocked countless trees down. Many more were leaning precariously against their neighbors for support, creaking eerily in the wind as they rubbed themselves raw against one another. After nearly a hundred years, few trees were more than 60 feet tall and a foot or two in diameter. In western Oregon from where I come, trees of this age would be more than twice as tall and thick. Needless to say, I was not impressed, to say the least.

But I had come this far to see said forest, so I was determined to discover something unique and wonderful about it. I refused to be put off by its shabby and pitiful outward appearance.

And sure enough, I was in for a pleasant surprise. You’d think by now, at my age, I’d have learned not to judge a book by its cover.

Yes, on the surface, what I found, in all honesty, was the about the saddest forest I had ever seen in my life of traveling in some 22 countries on four continents. Yet, it was still a forest, and in my book, this is something still to be cherished and even respected. Again, it might take some creative searching, but I was hopefully predetermined to find something special here.

Some of the more stately trees in this forest include Scotch pine and aspen.

The Denbigh Experimental Forest was established by the USDA Forest Service in 1931 “to determine which trees could survive and thrive in the harsh northern Great Plains climate,” says the brochure at the forest’s parking lot kiosk. Sadly, in its past life, this 636 acre site had been “extensively over-plowed and overgrazed during the early part of the 20th century, leaving wind-blown sand dunes”, according to Wikipedia. As a result of man’s mismanagement, it had become a wind-blown, eroded and forsaken dust bowl.

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Exploring the Art of Japanese Niwaki-Style Pruning

This is an example of a Street of Dreams Japanese garden created by the renowned Japanese landscape designer Hoichi Kurisu that Good News Trees Service, Inc. of Wilsonville has been maintaining for more than 20 years for three different home owners.

Are you frustrated with all of your shrubs being sheared into boring geometric shapes—spheres, ovals, rectangles—or left to grow in a tangled, misshaped mess? How about looking to the East—all the way to Japan—for some inspiration to revitalize your garden?

When you think of a Japanese garden, what comes to mind? Probably pagoda lanterns, pine trees and Japanese maples pruned in a curiously artful manner, and water features including koi ponds, waterfalls and meandering streams. If you find this appealing, have you considered bringing some of these elements into your own garden in the way that you prune your shrubs and trees? Then consider niwaki.

The Japanese word niwaki simply means “garden trees.” The art of the Japanese niwaki pruning style involves coaxing out of a tree those features believed to signify the essence of a tree including its gnarled trunks, outstretched branches and rounded canopies (Niwaki—The Pruning, Training and Shaping of Trees the Japanese Way, p. 9, by Jake Hobson). 

Niwaki is similar to the art of bonsai pruning, with which most people are familiar, except not in a miniaturized form, but involving full-sized trees. Many of the bonsai pruning techniques can be applied to the larger trees and shrubs in the garden but on a grander scale and, obviously, without the same attention to minute detail. Therefore, you can lose the mini-pruners, tweezers and scissors.

In the niwaki pruning style, trees are often made to look older than they really are by encouraging a broad trunk supporting gnarled and drooping branches, and by giving them a more open and attractive appearance so that the structure or architecture of the tree is visible through the foliage. Trees can be made to imitate windswept or lightning struck trees in the wild, which also gives them the appearance of age (A Practical Guide to Japanese Gardening, pp. 240–241, by Charles Chesshire). 

Both the bonsai and niwaki styles of  pruning attempt to replicate mature trees—some hundreds of years old—as they appear in nature after having endured the rigors of time including weather, pests and adverse growing conditions. We often see such trees clinging to cliffs overhanging the ocean’s shoreline, or in windswept canyons and gorges, or perched high on a mountain side. It is also not uncommon to see such gnarled trees in ancient forests, or growing in an open meadow. In all of these scenarios, time and gravity have caused the trees’ branches to naturally sag gracefully, and as the weaker branches get shaded out by the stronger and larger ones, the trees develop a naturally layered look. When we see such a tree, we are inspired by its character, beauty, symmetry or asymmetry and overall appearance of antiquity, stability and permanence. We sometimes even poetically attribute human characteristics to such trees such as wisdom, grace, dignity and nobility. 

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Nathan’s Best Picks for Columnar Street Trees

By Nathan Lawrence—ISA Cerified Arborist, OSU Master Gardener and owner of Good News Tree Service, Inc. at GoodNewsTree.com in Wilsonville, Oregon

The following is my list of the best street trees for small front yards that have space for only narrow, non-spreading street trees. All of these trees grow well in the western valleys of the Pacific Northwest, are not messy, and have little or no problems with diseases based on my decades of experience as a tree care provider and plant health care expert. You can search online for photos of these trees to see what they look like.

  • Dogwood—Hybrid White Dogwood (Cornus ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’): This unusual hybrid is a cross between our native Western dogwood, Cornus nuttallii, and the Eastern North American species, Cornus florida. The large (four inch diameter), bold flowers open in early spring and have broad overlapping bracts (false petals) that are gleaming white and abundant against a dark green foliage making for a striking display. The tree has a narrow, upright and rather pyramidal in form, with slightly drooping branching. It has shown resistance to dogwood anthracnose, a common foliage disease. This tree grows to height of 20 to 30 feet and a width of 15 to 20 feet. The leaves turn reddish pink in the autumn and small red berries decorate its branches in the winter. The tree can tolerate full sun to partial shade.
  • Dogwood—Starlight Dogwood (Cornus x nuttalii ‘Starlight’): A close relative to Venus is the variety Starlight® which is the result of crossing Korean dogwood with the Pacific dogwood. 35 feet high and 20 feet wide Resistant to anthracnose. Abundance of 4-5” creamy white flowers create a showy spring display against its deep green foliage. Orange strawberry-like fruit in early fall, followed by a show of red fall color. Resistant to anthracnose. Full sun to partial shade; size 25-30 feet tall by 15-20 feet wide.
  • Ginkgo—Sky Tower Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba ‘JN9 Sky Tower’): Rich green foliage. Narrow crown. Brilliant yellow fall color. Height 20 feet by 6 feet wide. Make sure you plant only male trees. Female trees produce a messy and nasty-smelling fruit.
  • Hornbeam—American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana): This North American native grows to about 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. It is slow-growing, deciduous, small to medium-sized with an attractive globular form. It prefers moist soil and is not drought tolerant.
  • Hornbeam— (Carpinus Lucus pyramidal): Narrow, slender growing habit. Dense canopy. 16 to 18 foot height. Attractive yellow, green catkins in the spring.
  • HornbeamUpright European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus ‘fastigiata’): Dense green foliage with golden fall color. Height 40 feet and width 20 feet.
  • Maple—Crimson Sentry (Acer platanoides ‘Crimson Sentry’): This tree grows to a height of 25 feet and width of 15 feet. It has purple leaves, which turn maroon to reddish bronze leaves in the fall. Oregon State University says of this tree, “In western Oregon the trees appear rather susceptible to powdery mildew, a fungal disease. This is especially noticeable in mid-to-late-summer. The affected leaves become a dull maroon color followed by a white-gray color, as if dusted with powdered sugar. One authority suggested that Crimson Sentry™ should not be recommended for mass or street plantings ‘unless a ghostly pallor on purple foliage is actually wanted.’”
  • Maple—Karpick Red Maple (Acer rubrum ‘Karpick’): This columnar red maple grows to a height of 45 feet tall and 20 wide with red-orange foliage in the fall.
  • Oak—Columnar English Oak (Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’) and Crimson Spire Oak (Quercus robur x Q. alba ‘Crimschmidt’): These trees are slow to moderate growing reaching a height of 50 to 60 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet wide. They prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They are extremely adaptable and very tolerant of urban conditions. The trees tolerate drought, but do best with occasional irrigation.
  • Oak—Pacific Brilliance Pin Oak (Quercus palustris ‘Pacific Brilliance’): The crown height is 50 feet and the crown spread is 20 to 25 feet at maturity.
  • Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum): This tree grows to a height of 20 to 30 feet and width of 12 to 20 feet. Its crown is oval to oval rounded. Tree is noted for its unique copper orange to cinnamon reddish brown peeling bark and its showy orange to red colored leaves in the fall.
  • Stewartia—Japanese Stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia): This slow-growing tree grows to crown height of 12 to 40 feet and a crown spread 10 to 25 feet with white camellia-like flowers that bloom in the late spring. Several smaller varieties of stewartia are available too (e.g. Korean stewartia [Stewartia koreana] and tall stewartia [Stewartia monadelpha]).
  • Tupelo, Afterburner (Nyssa sylvatica ‘David Odom’): This tree grows moderately fast to a height of 35 feet and a crown spread of 20 feet. The shape of its crown is upright and pyramidal to oval and is symmetrical and uniform. Its high gloss foliage is bright green tuning bright red in the fall. It has a blue-black berry-like fruit that’s less than a half-inch in size.