May 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.

The newcomers to this region may be wondering what’s with all the rain this year. News flash! And this will come as no surprise to Pacific Northwest natives, but this is typical weather for the western coastal areas and valleys of the northwest Oregon and Washington. Okay, you’re right. This year has been a little wetter than usual. After all, the Portland area recorded well over five inches of rain—a new record. But this is a really good thing. We’re about the only region in the western U.S. that’s not currently in drought conditions, and that’s a mega-blessing! Everywhere south and east of here is still in moderate to severe drought mode. So enjoy that liquid sunshine which will mean a more lush and greener environment, fewer forest fires, less tree die off, and healthier and happier trees and plants everywhere, since they will be less susceptible to drought and pest stress. And finally, more rain means lower irrigation bills us all.  Yay! That’s awesome new, is it not? And this has all been brought to you by our friend, The Rain.

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 the Treevangelist


Tree and Shrub Care

  • 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 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. 
  • Reparative pruning. Repair winter damaged to trees and shrubs.
  • 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. 
  • Tree inspections. 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.
  • Water trees and shrubs as necessary, even before the summer heat starts. This geographical region has entered a period of erratic rain patterns, so even during the typically consistent rainy winter and spring seasons, due to the long periods of dry weather, some tree and shrubs will need extra water. Vigilance is the key. Watch your plants for signs of drought stress, and then give them a drink of water as needed.

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. Spray in the spring and early summer when new growth starts at two week intervals. 
  • Bronze birch borer. Begin treating in mid-May through June. This is the only time of year that this beetle can be effectively controlled.
  • Cherry leaf spot. Spray cherry trees for leaf spot. Apply first spray at petal fall and two weeks later.
  • 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 leaf spot. This leaf blight affects ornamental and flowering cherry, plum and prune trees. Spray at petal fall, shuck fall and two weeks later.
  • 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. Spraying with a fungicide at bud break and continue at 10 to 14 day intervals. 
  • 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. 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.
  • Photinia leaf spot. Spray with a fungicide as new shoots are developing at 30 day intervals.
  • Pine dothistroma needle blight. Apply fungicide at just before bud break and a few weeks later according.
    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

  • Annual and perennial plants. May is when your local garden centers begin selling both annual and perennial plants with colorful leaves and flowers to add splashes of color to your garden. 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.
  • Birds. Continue to keep your bird feeders full. Why? Even though we’re now past the winter season and there is more food available for the birds, having these feathery friends frequent your garden serves several purposes. During dry spells, keep your bird bath watering hold full of fresh water. Caring for the local wild birds brings life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird-friendly sanctuary. The birds will thank you for your generosity by providing you with hours of entertainment, and by eating insect pests that harm your ornamental trees and shrubs. You can find excellent bird care products and advice from knowledgeable and caring professionals at your local Backyard Bird Shop.
  • Fertilization. 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. 
  • Ivy on trees. Though a decorative evergreen ground cover and climbing vine, English ivy is considered an invasive species, since it spread so rapidly and birds disperse its seeds everywhere. It will soon take over your yard and garden if not contained. Even worse, it grows up into trees, and even though it is not parasitic in that it takes nutrients from its host tree, it can eventually choke smother a tree foliage depriving the leaves of life-giving sunlight. The loss of foliage can stress and even eventually kill a trees. This is why it is imperative to cut ivy away from the base of your trees. The ivy climbing up into a tree can be killed simply by cutting through its stalks at the base of the tree. This can be done any time of the year.
  • 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.
  • Slugs. Put slug bait around your flowers and tender perennials like primroses and hostas.
  • Tree and shrub 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.
  • 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! 
  • Watering. 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.

Care of Roses

  • Dealing with rose pests. Spray or treat roses with a fungicide as needed preventively to insure protection against fungal pathogens such as black spot, powdery and cottony mildew, rust and spot anthracnose. Apply a fungicide only after the rose has put out several inches of new growth. Excellent choices of both organic and inorganic fungicides are available at your local garden center or nursery. Some fungicides require spraying in the early spring as the new growth is emerging. Major plant pests include mites, aphids, thrips, rose slugs, leaf rollers, rose midge, spittle bug and sawfly. Determine what pest or disease your rose has, do some research online if necessary to ascertain this, and then visit your local garden center or nursery to find the right product for the job. Always read and follow all label directions. It’s the law! 

Lawn Care

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

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.

Continue reading

April in the Garden—A To Do List

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

YOU can help to make the world a better, a more friendly, loving and beautiful place by being a good steward of the spot on this earth, your garden, that you have been given the privilege of borrowing for a time. It is our hope that the following to-do list will help you to do just that.

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

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

While you’re at it, take a few moments and scroll back through this same Good News Tree Service, Inc. blog and check out the archives for any tree and plant care articles that you may have missed. Also check out our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvcu2lL9NpgoXQtUFYyQShw, our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GoodNewsTreeService/ and our main website at 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 and plum leaf spot. This leaf blight affects ornamental and flowering cherry, plum and prune trees. Apply fungicide in the spring at flower petals fall, shuck fall and two weeks later.
  • Crabapple leaf blight. Apply fungicide as the leaf clusters are just opening up and make several more applications subsequently as per label directions.
  • Deep root fertilization. Trees and ornamental shrubs—deep root fertilize to promote lush, healthy-looking and vigorous crown growth. Urban soils tend to lacking in many of the nutrients that trees and shrubs need to survive. Many are malnourished or are starving to death, which is why they don’t look radiantly healthy are struggling with pest issues. Deep root fertilization helps to promote healthy-looking and pest-resistant trees and shrubs. The best time of the year to do this is in the spring and fall.
  • Dogwood anthracnose. Begin spraying with a fungicide at bud break and continue at 10 to 14 day intervals. 
  • Dormant spraying of fruit trees. Continue fungal sprays until after flower petals have dropped off.
  • Magnolia bacterial blight. Apply one fungal spray in fall and twice in spring near budbreak.
  • Lawns. Fertilize lawns.
  • Leaf blights. Spray trees and shrubs for fungal leaf diseases (e.g. powdery mildew, leaf blights, dogwood anthracnose, needle blights, etc.).
  • Monitor trees and shrubs for insect pests. When piercing and sucking plant pests (e.g. aphids, lacebugs, scales, weevils, mites, etc.) hatch varies each year depending on when the warmer weather begins. Usually, hatching of plant pests begins from early to late April. When consistent warm weather begins to occur, start monitoring plants for insect nymphs and adults. If necessary, plan a course of action to treat your trees and shrubs against these pests.
  • Pear rust. Apply fungicide in early spring about bloom time as the orange fungal telium (pl. telia) begin to appear.
  • Photinia leaf spot. Spray with a fungicide as new shoots are developing at 30 day intervals.
  • Piercing-sucking insects. Continue applying systemic insecticides against piercing sucking insects (aphids, lacebugs, scales, weevils, etc.) via soil injections (one treatment gives season-long control). 
  • Pine dothistroma needle blight. Apply fungicide at just before bud break and a few weeks later.
  • Powdery mildew. Apply a fungicides as soon as symptoms appear. Best efficacy occurs if used before symptoms appear. Use fungicide at 7 to 14 day intervals, or more often if conditions warrant it. If a plant is known to have had powdery mildew previously,  apply as buds start to open.
  • Spider mites will start to become active as the weather warms. Systemic insecticides are available against this pest.
  • Tent caterpillar. Apply systemic pesticide for season-long control.
  • Verticillium wilt. Soil drench in the spring. Maples are especially susceptible to this fungal root disease as are cherries and plums.
  • Willow twig blight (scab). Apply two or three applications beginning when new leaves first appear at 10 to 14 day intervals.

Elsewhere in the Garden 

  • Feed the birds. Continue to keep your bird feeders full. Why? Even though we’re now past the winter season and there is more food available for the birds, having these feathery friends frequent your garden serves several purposes. During dry spells, keep your bird bath watering hold full of fresh water. Caring for the local wild birds brings life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird-friendly sanctuary. The birds will thank you for your generosity by providing you with hours of entertainment, and by eating insect pests that harm your ornamental trees and shrubs. You can find excellent bird care products and advice from knowledgeable and caring professionals at your local Backyard Bird Shop. 
  • Ferns. Cut off last year’s fronds from ferns as new fiddleheads begin to emerge.
  • Flower planting. Begin planting annual and perennial flowers.
  • English ivy control. Though a decorative evergreen ground cover and climbing vine, English ivy is considered an invasive species, since it spread so rapidly and birds disperse its seeds everywhere. It will soon take over your yard and garden if not contained. Even worse, it grows up into trees, and even though it is not parasitic in that it takes nutrients from its host tree, it can eventually choke smother a tree foliage depriving the leaves of life-giving sunlight. The loss of foliage can stress and even eventually kill a trees. This is why it is imperative to cut ivy away from the base of your trees. The ivy climbing up into a tree can be killed simply by cutting through its stalks at the base of the tree. This can be done any time of the year.
  • Mulch. Apply two to three inches of mulch (e.g. bark dust, garden compost or wood chips) on all of your shrub beds. Covering bare dirt areas in your yard with mulch helps to prevent soil compaction from rains, and weed growth, and helps to enrich our heavy clay soils.
  • Slugs. Put slug bait around your flowers and tender plants such as hostas, primroses and other slug loving plants.
  • Vegetable gardening. Start making plans for your vegetable garden. Once the soil has dried out, you can begin working it for planting our veggies. Usually this will occur in late April or early May and sometimes later depending on the weather. The earlier you plant, the sooner you’ll be feeding on delicious veggies from your own garden! 

Rose Care

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

Lawn Care (April or May)

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

Happy gardening!


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, that is, the preacher of the good news about the beauty and benefit of trees, urges you to treat your spot on this planet like your own personal biblical Garden of Eden. May it become your personal paradise and refuge from this hectic and stressful world. The care of your garden is your divinely mandated responsibility.  Your trees, shrubs, flowers and the wildlife in your yard depend on your vigilant and loving care, and they 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 godly mission.

It seems to this Pacific Northwest native that this winter has been more normal in terms of rainfall amounts and temperatures than several of our previous years. The rain, so far, has been regular, which is a welcome relief from the alarmingly irregular rain patterns and drought conditions of the past few years. So we thank Heaven for this, for it is the rain that keeps our northwest region the luscious garden and the envy of outsiders for which it is well-known. On a personal note, I have traveled to some 22 countries on four continents and half of the U.S. states including Alaska and Hawaii. I also spent a year living in the mountains of Switzerland at the foot of its famous Alps. So I have seen a lot of this earth’s natural splendor, yet no place that I have seen to date has more natural beauty and diversity, in my opinion, than our Pacific Northwest. So let’s all do our part to keep it this way! 

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. Prune your fruit trees for fruit production. You can also prune grapes, cane and trailing berries once the threat of major frost is past.
  • Plant fruit trees. At this time of the year, bare root fruit trees can be purchased inexpensively at your local garden center. It is imperative to plant them while they are still in their dormant state and before their buds start to swell just before bloom time.
  • Plant trees and shrubs. Now is an excellent time to plant all kinds of trees and shrubs in the garden, while the weather is cool and the plants are still dormant. 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.
  • Severe pruning of some ornamental shrubs. Now is an excellent time to do major pruning (even back to bare stocks) of certain overgrown evergreen shrubs before they start their new growth in the next month or so. Shrubs that can be pruned back severely include rhododendron (or rhody), camellia, andromeda or lily of the valley shrub, Japanese holly, laurel and photinia to name a few. Not all shrubs can take such severe pruning, so know the growth habits of your plant before doing so. When you prune, make sure that you cut back to a bud point or a branch union. Do not cut internodially or between buds points or leaf whirls.
  • 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. Prune coast or shore pines (Pinus contorta) and Scotch or Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris). These two pines are especially susceptible to the sequoia pitch moth whose larvae burrow into the tree trunks during the growing season (April through September) causing the trees to exude large amounts of unsightly pitch globules. While this seldom kills the tree, the bleeding of sap is not good for the overall health and vigor of the tree. It is advisable, therefore, not to prune these pine trees during the growing season, since the pruning cuts attract the moth, which then lays eggs on the tree, which hatch into tree-burrowing larvae. Pruning should be done on your pines from November to March.
  • Plant or transplant trees and shrubs. Winter is a good time to plant or transplant ornamental trees and shrubs. Cooler weather means less transplant shock to the plants, and over  the winter and spring, they will have time to begin to acclimate to their new environment before the stress of the next summer season occurs.
  • Pruning of large trees. Winter is a great time to do aesthetic and structural pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs, since the structure or architecture of the plant is clearly visible making aesthetic pruning easier than when plants are foliated. Structural defects, which can cause tree failure, are more easily spotted as well. Also remove of dead wood, and pruning to reduce hazards. 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.
  • Reparative pruning. Repair winter damaged to trees and shrubs.
  • Roses. The best time to prune roses is after the threat of major frost is past.
  • 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

These are some of the large trees that Good News Tree Service, Inc. helps to care for. These ancient native oak trees were stressed and in danger of dying before we started treating them. Now they are healthy and flourishing.

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 Berckmann’s Blight (Platycladus orientalis). Spray in the fall (late Sept. and early Oct., and again in early Nov. Spray again in early spring (Feb to Mar) if disease is severe. 
  • 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. Deep root fertilize your trees and shrubs just prior to or as new leaves begin to emerge. Apply when soils are not super-saturated with rain, so that the fertilizer isn’t washed away from plants’ roots after applications is made.
  • Dormant Spraying of Fruit Trees. Apply dormant sprays against insects and fungi.
  • Lawns. Fertilize yellowing lawns.
  • Leaf Blights. Spray trees and shrubs for fungal leaf diseases (e.g. powdery mildew, leaf blights, dogwood anthracnose, needle blights, etc.).
  • Magnolia Bacterial Blight. Apply one spray in fall and twice in spring near budbreak. 
  • 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.
  • Piercing-Sucking Insects. Begin applying systemic insecticides against piercing sucking insects (aphids, lacebugs, scales, weevils, etc.) via soil injections (one treatment gives season-long control). 
  • Photinia leaf spot. Spray a fungicide early in February of four applications at two week intervals afterwards. Early spray is key to controlling this fungus.
  • Powdery Mildew. Apply a fungicides as soon as symptoms appear. Best efficacy if used before symptoms appear. Use fungicide at seven to fourteen 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.
  • Tent Caterpillar. Apply systemic pesticide for season-long control.
  • Verticillium Wilt Fungal Disease. Apply a soil in the fall and spring.

Elsewhere in the Garden

This is a gandoderma lucidum or fungal conk that is growing on the side of an oak tree at its base. Though beautiful in appearance, this polymorph or bracket fungus can cause rot on the inside of live trees.
  • Ferns. Ferns are popular ornamental plant that grow natively in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. They require minimal care and thrive in shaded areas. To keep ferns looking beautiful throughout the coming season, a little manicuring is necessary. This involves cutting off last year’s fronds from ferns as new fiddleheads begin to emerge. 
  • Slug control. Put slug bait around winter flowers. Though the weather may be cold, slugs are still active.
  • Clean up. Rake and dispose of ornamental tree leaves, or better yet, compost them and then spread the decomposed leaves back onto your shrub beds as a mulch next year.
  • Mulch all of 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.
  • English ivy control. Though a decorative evergreen ground cover and climbing vine, English ivy is considered an invasive species, since it spread so rapidly and birds disperse its seeds everywhere. It will soon take over your yard and garden if not contained. Even worse, it grows up into trees, and even though it is not parasitic in that it takes nutrients from its host tree, it can eventually choke smother a tree foliage depriving the leaves of life-giving sunlight. The loss of foliage can stress and even eventually kill a trees. This is why it is imperative to cut ivy away from the base of your trees. The ivy climbing up into a tree can be killed simply by cutting through its stalks at the base of the tree. This can be done any time of the year.
  • Feed the birds. Dutifully maintain your bird feeders. As winter comes, birds have a harder time finding food.  This includes both seed and suet feeders. During dry spells, keep your bird bath watering hold full of fresh water. Caring for the local wild birds brings life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird-friendly sanctuary. The birds will thank you for your generosity by providing you with hours of entertainment, and by eating insect pests that harm your ornamental trees and shrubs. Remember to feed your local humming birds that overwinter in our region. If possible, fill your humming bird feeders with a syrup that contains only 100 percent sugar (e.g. sucrose or dextrose) minus any artificial sweeteners, red dyes and other chemicals. Your birds will be healthier for it. You can find excellent bird care products and advice from knowledgeable and caring professionals at your local Backyard Bird Shop.

Care of Roses

  • Prune roses. Mid to late-February  or early March (or after the threat of hard frosts have passed is the time to prune roses for health and bloom potential. Remove dead, weak and spindly canes. Leave only the strongest and healthiest canes that are equally spread apart thus giving them good air circulation to reduce the potential spread of fungal pathogens that cause leaf diseases. An open spacing pattern of the canes also provides ample room for the blooms to grow without crowding each other. Make pruning cuts slightly above an outward-facing bud. Endeavor to prune rose bushes into an upward and outward vase-shaped form.
  • Late winter-early spring. Now is the time to plant roses. Plant them in full sun. Roses don’t do well in shade and need at least six hours of sun per day especially in the summer. Morning sun is preferable to dry off the dew. Add plenty of mulch, manure or other soil amendment into the soil when planting. Choose pest and disease resistant rose varieties for best, long term results.

Lawn Care March Through May

  • Feed the wild birds. Attracting wild birds to your garden is an excellent way to naturally control harmful insects. Allow wild birds such as starlings to peck at your grass as they are feeding on insects that are harmful to your lawn.
  • Irrigation systems. Check your irrigation system well before the warm weather starts to ensure that there are no broken pipes, faulty sprinkler heads or broken risers. Check sprinkler heads for adequate coverage and adjust or replace as necessary. Check your timer to make sure it is functioning so that expensive water wastage does not occur. Have your irrigation backflow prevention device tested. In some cities, this a yearly requirement.
  • Get your mower ready. Perform mower maintenance. Take your mower into repair shop to perform annual engine maintenance and blade sharpening. Do it early in the season when the repair shops are not busy and to avoid the spring rush, so that you will not be delayed in mowing your grass in the spring.
  • Dethatch your lawn. Once your lawn has dried out and it is not excessively wet—usually in April or May—dethatch your lawn of old roots and stems. Rake and remove the thatch. Lawn dethatchers can be rented  or your gardener can perform this service.
  • Aerate compacted soil. Lawn soil becomes compacted due to human and pet traffic as well as rainfall thus hindering water and fertilizer penetration and the growth of grass roots. This is why it is wise to aerate your lawn occasionally—preferably annually—for the best looking and most healthy lawn. Lawn aerators can be rented or your gardener can perform this service.
  • Remove perennial weeds. Once the grass starts to grow and on a dry day, spot treat weeds with an herbicide. Read and follow all label directions including wearing the recommended personal protection equipment (or PPE) when applying chemicals herbicides. At any time of the year, you can dig out the weeds by hand.

I took the following photos in a recent trip to the world-famous Portland Japanese Gardens where we take field trips to learn about ornamental shrub pruning styles and techniques.

Dealing With UNRULY Callery Pear (Bradford variety) Trees

Callery pear (Bradford variety) are a commonly used street tree across America, but when they become mature (after 20 to 30 years), they cause many problems for people. In some cities, they are now banned and are even considered an invasive species and a hazard tree because of their proclivity to break apart damaging cars and houses among other things. If you have a callery pear tree and removal is not an option, HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THIS CRAZY TREE? In this video, we show you how you can mitigate this potentially hazardous tree and manage it so that it doesn’t cause you too many problems.

Hinoki Cypress Pruned Niwaki Style in Exquisite Japanese Garden

Watch Nathan and his son prune out a two large hinoki cypresses in one of Portland, Oregon’s most exquisite residential Japanese gardens. This video also includes a quick tour of this spectacular garden originally designed and constructed by world renown Japanese landscape architect and landscaper Hoichi Kurisu and was later added to by Taru Tanaka. Kurisu helped to design the internationally acclaimed Portland, Oregon Japanese Gardens and Tanaka later was its curator for many years. For more info on the Portland Japanese Gardens, go to https://japanesegarden.org and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_Japanese_Garden.

February in the Garden—A To 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.

As the days begin to lengthen, the cold temps begin to inch upward, and the sun begins to peak out from behind the clouds a tiny bit more, guess what? Heat and light incubate life. Plant buds are beginning to swell, and a few hardy early-bird flowers are beginning to pop out of the cold ground. Rejoice as the earth begins to awaken with a new flourish of life, and take a moment to walk around your personal domain and notice as the inexorable and reassuringly predictable cycles of plant-life rebirths once again despite the crazy, erratic, capricious and often malevolent machinations of many humans everywhere. Never forget that while the outlook may be a bit crazy, but the uplook, heavenward, is always great.

While you’re looking around, scroll back through this same Good News Tree Service, Inc. blog and check out the archives for any tree care articles that you may have missed. Also check out our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvcu2lL9NpgoXQtUFYyQShw and our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GoodNewsTreeService/ or our website at https://goodnewstree.com. I am regularly adding new videos for your education and pleasure. Please enjoy!

Readers’ suggestions on how to improve this list are gladly solicited. If you, the reader, have any suggestions for additions to this month’s list, please put them in the comments section of this article, and I will add them to the list. Thank you in advance! — Nathan


Tree and Shrub Care

  • Fruit tree pruning. Now is the time to prune your fruit trees for fruit production. You can also prune grapes, cane and trailing berries once the threat of major frost is past.
  • Plant fruit trees. Not only is this a good time to plant bare-root fruits trees, which you can purchase now at many garden centers, but it’s an excellent to plant all kinds of trees and shrubs in the garden, while the weather is cool and the plants are still dormant. 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.
  • Yard clean up. Rake and dispose of ornamental tree leaves, or better yet, compost them and then spread the decomposed leaves back onto your shrub beds as a mulch next year.
  • Mulch. 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. Prune coast or 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. Winter is 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 ornamental shrubs. 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 a couple of months.
  • Pruning of large trees. Winter is a great time to do aesthetic and structural pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs, since the structure or architecture of the plant is clearly visible making aesthetic pruning easier than when plants are foliated. Structural defects, which can cause tree failure, are more easily spotted as well. Also remove of dead wood, and pruning to reduce hazards. 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.
  • Roses. The best time to prune roses is after the threat of major frost is past.
  • Tree and shrub removal and stump grinding can be done all year long. 
  • Hazard tree assessment. 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. 
  • Trees and Storms. Storm proof your larger trees. Checking your trees for hazards and then take the appropriate measures to protect your trees from storm damage. 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. If you’re not sure about the condition of your trees or even what to look for, call Good News Tree Service, Inc. for a free on-site consultation.

Plant Health Care

Good News Tree Service, Inc. provides many of the plant health care services listed below.

  • Arborvitae Berckmann’s Blight (Platycladus orientalis). Spray in the fall (late Sept. and early Oct., and again in early Nov. Spray again in early spring (Feb to Mar) if disease is severe. 
  • Dormant Spraying of Fruit Trees. Apply dormant sprays against insects and fungi.
  • Lawns. Fertilize yellowing lawns.
  • Piercing-Sucking Insects. Apply systemic insecticides against piercing sucking insects (aphids, lacebugs, scales, weevils, etc.) via soil injections (one treatment gives season-long control). This is a service that Good News Tree Service, Inc. provides. Free price quotes are available upon request.
  • Photinia leaf spot. Spray a four applications of fungicide early in February at two week intervals afterwards. Early spray is key to controlling this fungus.
  • Powdery Mildew. Apply a fungicides as soon as symptoms appear (when the weather begins to warm up). Best efficacy is obtained if used before symptoms appear. Use fungicide at seven to fourteen 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.
  • Tent Caterpillar. Apply systemic pesticide for season-long control.

Elsewhere in the Garden

  • Slug control. Put slug bait around winter flowers. Though the weather may be cold, slugs are still active.
  • Clean up. Rake and dispose of ornamental tree leaves, or better yet, compost them and then spread the decomposed leaves back onto your shrub beds as a mulch next year.
  • Mulch all of 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.
  • Cut English ivy off of the base of trees. (This can be done any time of the year.)
  • Feed the birds. Dutifully maintain your bird feeders. As winter comes, birds have a harder time finding food.  This includes both seed and suet feeders. During dry spells, keep your bird bath watering hold full of fresh water. Caring for the local wild birds brings life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird-friendly sanctuary. The birds will thank you for your generosity by providing you with hours of entertainment, and by eating insect pests that harm your ornamental trees and shrubs. Remember to feed your local humming birds that overwinter in our region. If possible, fill your humming bird feeders with a syrup that contains only 100 percent sugar (e.g. sucrose or dextrose) minus any artificial sweeteners, red dyes and other chemicals. Your birds will be healthier for it. You can find excellent bird care products and advice from knowledgeable and caring professionals at your local Backyard Bird Shop.

Rose Care

  • Prune your roses. The best time to do heavy pruning of roses is after the threat of major frost is past.
  • Anytime of the year. Heavily mulch your roses. Organic mulch (such as wood chips, rotted compost, rotted manure) is the best. While barkdust helps to hold moisture in the soil, it contains little or no nutrients, so it doesn’t feed the soil and thus won’t feed your roses.
  • For more information on the care of roses, go to the Portland Rose Society website at https://www.portlandrosesociety.org/all_about_roses.html. 

Lawn Care

  • Perform mower maintenance. This is a good time to take your mower to repair shop for some annual engine maintenance and blade sharpening. Do it in the winter when the repair shops are not busy and to avoid the spring rush so that you will be ready to mow your grass in the spring.
  • Other lawn care. Avoid walking on extremely soggy or heavily frost-covered lawns to avoid damage to your grass.