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.
Okay, summer is almost here (although it doesn’t feel like it), so let’s do a spring 2022 wrap-up on the weather courtesy of KPTV meteorologist Mark Nelson from his weather blog (https://www.kptv.com/weather/blog/). Here are some cool (literally) stats for the Portland region:
- Temps: March was 1.6˚ above normal; April was 3.1˚ below normal; May was 2.5˚ below normal.
- Rain: March was 1.01 inches below normal; April was 2.84 inches above normal; May was 1.03 inches above normal.
- Spring 2022 was the eighth wettest spring on record and the wettest spring since 2017.
- For April and May, both Portland and Salem received 9.5 inches of rain. Astoria saw 13 inches of rain; Detroit Lake (east of Salem in the foothills of the Cascades) received 28.04 inches of rain and Log Creek in Portland’s Bull Run watershed (across the ridge from Lost Lake by Mount Hood) got 25.4 inches of rain. In light of the serious drought that this region has been experiencing for the past few years, this has been, as Mark puts it “an amazing two months of recovery for this region.” Thank heavens for the rain!
So, if you think that it has been a little wetter and cooler than usual, you’re correct. You may not love it, but your plants sure do! They flourish in this cool, yet somewhat warmer and wet weather. These are optimal conditions for plant growth, which is why your plants may seem a little lusher, greener and happier than they have the past few years. In fact, some of them are likely bursting at the seams, so to speak, and may need a seasonal haircut.
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
- 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. Early June, however, is the time to do candle pruning of pine trees.
- 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 (e.g., some Japanese maples, laurustinus, abelia, firethorn, photinia, laurel or grape). You may need to prune them again in the early summer for a more neat and manicured look.
- 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.
- Tree and shrub removal and stump grinding can be done all year long.
- Trees. Have an ISA Certified Arborist with an ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (like Good News Tree Service, Inc.) inspect your large trees for the potential of failure due to weak root systems and defects in trunks and branches. This can be done anytime of the year.
- Watering trees and shrubs. During the hot summer months, well established trees and larger ornamental shrubs usually need little or no watering. Keep your eye on them, however, since due to dry soil conditions brought on by the moderate but prolonged drought we are experiencing in this region, this may put your large trees under abnormal stress. Signs of stress include wilting, excessive needle and leaf drop, yellowing of foliage and pitch seeping out of tree trunks (especially conifers). Extra water to the root zones of these stressed trees during hot weather is the key to relieving stress from drought and preventing their demise. 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 leaf blight. 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.
- 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
- Annual and perennial plants. There is still time to plant flowers in the garden before the hot summer commences. Annuals typically are plants that need to be planted in the garden each year, since they are unlikely to survive the colder temperatures of winter. Some annuals like California poppy and violets will automatically reseed themselves and come up again in the spring. Most annuals, however, need to be replanted each spring. Popular colorful annual plants include begonia, coleus, cosmos, forget-me-not, geraniums, impatiens, marigold, nasturtium, pansy, petunia, snapdragons, sunflower, sweet william, violets and zinnia. Perennials are plants whose tops die back each winter, but come back from the roots in the spring. Common perennial plants that will add color to your garden include alstromeria, bleeding heart, carnation, calendula, clematis, columbine, chrysanthemum, coral bells (heuchera), daisy, daffodil, dahlia, daylilly, fuchsia (hardy varieties), gladiola, hellebore, hosta, iris, lavender, lupine, peony, primrose, red hot poker, tulip and yarrow.
- Backyard 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.
- 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.
- Plant 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!
- Fertilize again at the end of June.
- Late spring, summer and into early fall. 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.
- Remove spent flowers, as needed, after they are done blooming.
- Spray roses with water during hot summer days (not in the morning, though) to cool them down, and spray top and undersides of leaves to wash off pests such as spider mites and aphids.
- Lawn grubs. If lawn grubs are an issue in your lawn, prevent further damage by applying a grub-control product that continues to work throughout the season. The best time to do this is while doing lawn maintenance activities in early June.
- 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.
Slow down, stop and look at the flowers. Refresh your weary self with their fragrant aroma. Let their beauty, love and joy penetrate your outer and inner being. They are almost ethereal and holy. They point to something larger, deeper and higher. Breath in deeply and enjoy! Savor the shalom of it all…