August in the Garden—A To Do List

The Nenana River along the Denali Highway in Alaska

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.

Spring 2022 was a little wetter than usual—a good thing. But summer’s blast furnace started early again this year, and the heat wave still hasn’t abated—not such a good thing for the plants. Due to the erratic weather patterns of the past few years, the some plants are exhibiting signs of stress. Generally, plants prefer gradual changes weathewise, and struggle when weather  patterns change too abruptly. Since the life forces in a tree move in the slow lane, trees are unable to acclimate to sudden changes, thus making them more susceptible to stressors like drought and pests. I’ve even noticed a few local otherwise hardy native oak trees turning brown and dying. Even though we had a wet winter and spring, this wasn’t enough to abate our prolonged drought that is still killing some native trees like Western red-cedars and Douglas-firs. Below, I tell you how to give your stressed trees a little extra TLC to help them get through this tough time in their long lives.

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


The following photos will still be from the Pacific Northwest, but just a little further north up the coast all the way to Alaska including the Arctic Circle. My wife and I recently returned from Fairbanks and north, then worked our way south through the Denali area and ended up in Sitka, which is in the extreme SE panhandle area of that vast state. Please enjoy!

Tree and Shrub Care

What comes to mind you think of the Arctic Circle? Igloos, eskimos, sled dogs, polar bears and icebergs? Well, I took this photo some 20 miles inside the Arctic Circle about 200 miles north of Fairbanks. The only trees that grow here are black spruce, willow, aspen, birch and cottonwoods. They are small and short, since the permafrost is very shallow.
  • 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 Good News Tree Service, Inc. for more info.
  • Dogwood trees. Monitor leaves for signs of anthracnose. As the summer draws on, the symptoms on the leaves get worse. (See more info below.)
  • 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 Good News Tree Service, 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.
  • 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.

Also 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.
In the tundra of the Arctic Circle, the trees are small, so not much pruning is necessary. Due to the harsh growing conditions and short growing season, they are natural bonsais.
  • 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 prolonged drought. Large native trees (e.g., Douglas-fir, western redcedar, 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. 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

Birch trees south of the Arctic Circle on the Dalton Highway.
  • Birch trees. At this time of the year, many birch trees are dying. This due to a birch killing beetle called the bronze birch borer. This pest has no natural predatory enemies and no inexpensive cure is in sight for this pest. The beetle is killing at least 60 percent of the birch trees in this region and yours may be next. In the previous section of this article, we discuss this issue in more detail.
  • Deep root fertilization. Be careful about fertilizing shrubs (especially with quick release fertilizers) 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 trees. This popular garden tree is very hardy and has very few pests except for the dogwood anthracnose leaf blight (discussed below) and occasionally the summertime non-lethal powdery mildew that appears on the leaves. Two things can occur on the leaves of the dogwood tree that often alarm homeowners. First, sometimes the ends of the leaves may turn brown and die. This can be due to anthracnose (discussed below) or due to sunburn or leaf scorch. The latter condition occurs because the dogwood is a shade preferring tree, and when we plant them in the full sun, the leaves that are on the sunny side of the tree often get sunburned. Though unsightly, this will not kill the tree. Another symptom of the tree’s dislike for hot sun is that the leaves will fold in on themselves at the mid-rid of the leaf blade. This is the dogwood’s unique defense mechanism to combat water loss due to evaporation or transpiration. It appears as if the leaves are wilting due to lack of water. This may not be the case, since even trees that are irrigated regularly will take on this cup shape—especially leaves that are exposed to full sunlight. Leaves that are not in the sun’s light will usually stay flat and unfolded. 
Dogwood flower in the University of Alaska Fairbanks botanical garden.
  • 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 Good News Tree Service, 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.
  • 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 

Fireweed (along with yarrow) grows from the Arctic Circle all the way into the SE panhandle area of Alaska. Even though it’s not the official flower of that state, it maybe should be.
  • Birds. Feed the birds. Dutifully maintain your bird feeders. Bring life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird sanctuary. The birds will thank you for your generosity by providing you with hours of entertainment, and by eating insect pests that harm your ornamental trees and shrubs. Birds in the yard are not only fun to watch, but they perform the vital task of eating harmful insects. Keep bird baths full. In hot and dry weather, birds need water to drink and to bathe in.
  • 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. This is a good time of the year to plant trees and shrubs as long as you keep them well-watered. 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.
A giant slug in the Tongass rainforest near Sitka, Alaska.
  • Slugs. Put slug bait around your flowers and tender perennials like hostas.

Rose Care

One doesn’t see too many wild roses in Alaska, but berries grow everywhere and are a main source of food for bears. These are lingonberries growing in the tundra of the Arctic Circle.
  • 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! 
  • Dead heading. As needed, remove spent flowers after they are done blooming.
  • Fertilize. In late August, fertilize roses again.
A splendid peony from the University of Alaska Fairbanks botanical garden.
  • Irrigation and pest control. 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. During hot summer weather. Spray roses with water (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 Care

  • Maintenance. Summer is about mowing, watering, and pest control. Stay on top of mowing for a healthy lawn. Mow once a week or as needed. Remove no more than one-third of the height of the grass to avoid stressing it. Mow regularly to prevent weed seed spread.
  • 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. 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. 
Spruce against a birch back drop in the Denali National Park.
A view of the boreal forest on the Denali Highway east of the Denali National Park.
The Tongass National (rain) Forest near Sitka.
A wild (weed) flower growing next to a city sidewalk in Anchorage.
Devils club growing in the Tongass National (rain) Forest near Sitka.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks botanical garden.
Vegetables growing in the University of Alaska Fairbanks botanical garden. In July, there were also plenty of ripe tomatoes, peppers and summer squash!

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.

We Take Tree Preservation Seriously

At Good News Tree Service, Inc. in Wilsonville, Oregon, we don’t just talk about tree preservation, we actually do it—and our clients love it!

Go to the websites of most tree services, and you’ll find them bragging about the big trees they removed. The bigger the tree, the bigger and the better the tree service, so it seems. That’s not our philosophy, however.

Yes, we’ve done plenty of big trees over the decades. We even did full-scale logging for many years along with our other tree work. Been there, done that, as they say.

But since then, we’ve grown passionate about preserving every tree we can. Yes, we still take down plenty of trees because Mrs. Smith doesn’t like her tree any longer, because it has outgrown its spot, because it has became a hazard or a nuisance, or because it is dying and we can do nothing to bring it back to health.

But we get excited when we can save a tree that our client or other tree services recommended taking out. Sadly, the latter happens frequently! This is because many other tree services fail to inform Mrs. Smith about the options available to saving her tree, yet still mitigate her concerns. We educate our clients, provide them with options, and then let them make the choices. Often a valuable tree gets saved in the process

Here are some recent examples of trees we saved and their back story.

This birch tree was seriously devastated in last year’s epic ice storm. The people loved the tree, but thought it needed to be removed. After pruning out the broken wood and cutting the damaged trunk back to good wood, we let the tree regenerate itself, and a year later, here’s the same tree. By the end of this year’s growing season, it will look even better.

Here are some more examples of trees we saved from the saw. In these cases, another tree service wanted to remove these ice storm damaged trees in the common areas of this home owners association. In fact, these trees were red-flagged for removal. The competing tree service could have made big bucks removing them, grinding out the stumps and then replanting new trees.

Good News Tree Service was brought in for a second opinion, and we had good news for this HOA. Not only could these trees be saved, but we saved the HOA a boatload of money, helped the environment, and made the surrounding neighbors ecstatic over being able to save the trees. Since then, we have pruned them to make them look better since last year’s horrific ice storm. Reshaping them is still a work in progress and will continue as they regrow their ice-damaged tops.

One or two of these trees were so busted up that they were merely trunks with little or no side branches. Yet we knew that they’d put on a full crown of new foliage come spring, so we recommended keeping them. Now look at them!

Here is another tree we just saved the other day. In this case, Mr. Jones wanted this glorious Stewartia tree removed because the berries and other detritus from it were staining his expensive patio. Upon conversing with him, I realized that he really loved the tree, but he didn’t like the mess it was causing. I suggested keeping the tree and, instead of removing it, reshaping the crown so that it would no longer hang over his patio. He loved the idea and the results. Here are the before and after pictures.

Before…
Here the tree is thinned and shaped. A new tree and a happy client!

June in the Garden—A To Do List

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

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

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

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! 

Rose Care

  • 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 Care

  • 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…

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.

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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!