At Westcoast Tree Care, we’d like to provide you with a guide of some of the best tree care practices for homeowners in Portland, Oregon, and the surrounding areas. From selecting the right tree to planting it and caring for it over its lifetime, it’s important to understand that everything you do will affect its shape, beauty, and structural integrity. Following these steps will ensure your tree starts off on the right foot for a long, healthy life.
Best Planting Practices
Optimal tree care starts with selecting the right tree and planting it in the best place. Since trees don’t move during their lifetime, it’s important to take the time to make sure they will thrive in the area you plant them.
Trees that are expected to grow large and tall should never be planted in close proximity to power lines, houses, or nearby structures. This will eliminate any future problems caused by reaching, overgrowth, broken branches, cracks or splits in the trunk, or leaning that can result in harm, property damage or even death.
A healthy tree that provides you with a wide variety of benefits must be properly placed when planted. That’s why you should always take into consideration how high and wide it will grow, it’s form and shape, its growth rate, its soil, sun and watering requirements, and whether or not its species can stand up to the elements of your area. Doing so will protect you and your property from potential hazards down the road.
Best Selection Practices
No one wants to spend their hard earned money on a tree only to have it die or fail in the future. That’s why it’s important to follow the tips below when you purchase a tree.
Things To Look Out For
- When you buy a bare root tree, it’s important to look for moist, abundant root growth with good color and plenty of small fibrous roots.
- When you buy a balled and burlapped tree, it’s important to make sure that the soil ball is firm and the trunk of the tree is securely tied. Do not buy a tree with a broken ball.
- When you buy a potted tree in a container, it’s important to avoid trees with tangled roots (root bound) which can result in sickness and eventual death. Trees are not meant to grow in a restricted space, no matter how large a container is. The easiest way to spot this is if you see swirls of strands formed around the ball when it is removed from its container. This means the roots have touched and moved along the inside of the container and bent back on themselves in search of water, nutrients, and available soil.
Best Mulching Practices
Mulch is one of the best things you can provide for a newly planted tree. That’s why it’s important to never skip this process.
The Importance Of Mulch
- Mulch provides an insulating buffer from hot and cold temperatures.
- Mulch retains water, keeping the roots of a tree moist.
- Mulch prevents weeds from growing thus reducing competition.
- Apply mulch around the base of your tree in 3-10 foot area depending on how big your tree is.
- Use natural mulch like bark and wood chips. Apply 2-4 inches deep in your 3-10 foot area circle.
- Don’t apply mulch to where it physically touches the trunk of the tree.
Best Watering Practices
Routine watering is the key to any successful tree care program. Below are a few tips to help you properly water your trees.
Young & Newly Planted Trees
For newly planted trees, it’s important to water them as soon as they are placed in the ground.
Watering During The First Couple Of Years
During the first couple of years, young, newly planted trees use a lot of energy establishing their roots in the soil. Even more, a tree will require adequate, routine watering to speed up the process during the summer months – especially in areas of excessive heat and drought. That’s why it’s important to use moisture-retaining mulch and water on a consistent basis.
Watering After the First Couple Of Years
After a couple of years, your tree will have successfully established its roots in the soil. This will provide it with protection from a wide range of watering conditions.
Schedule & Water Amount
Too much or too little water can be harmful. Under or overwatering a tree is a common mistake homeowners make. That’s why it’s important to make sure the soil around your trees is moist and not spongy. For younger trees, we recommend a deep-watering by running a garden hose over the root zone for approximately 30 seconds, 2x per week during the hot, summer season. The idea is to reach the full depth of the roots and maintain damp but not soggy soil.
Older, more mature trees, on the other hand, should be watered at least once a week or every other week during hot weather (depending on how well the soil retains moisture). A good rule of thumb is to provide an older tree with around 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter.
Keep in mind, however, it’s important not to overwater, as it can drown the tree roots which can hurt the tree. Signs of overwatering include a puddle after watering, yellow leaves, wilting, brittle green leaves or fungus. If your soil is wet and you notice any of these signs, you may be over watering your trees.
Best Pruning Practices
If you’re like most homeowners, you probably value the trees that add beauty to your home and property. You also appreciate the many benefits they provide like shade, erosion control and energy savings. That’s why it’s important to keep them strong and growing for many years to come. One easy measure to help ensure their health, promote their beauty and prolong life is to understand some best pruning practices with the following guidelines.
During the winter, trees are in a dormant state. This makes it the ideal time for pruning wounds to heal before new spring growth occurs. Pruning during the spring and summer months is much riskier as disease, fungi, and insects are often attracted by fresh cuts. Even more, the ability to see a tree’s form entirely without foliage allows a certified arborist to identify any issues that might otherwise go undetected, making winter the ideal time for a preventative tree care evaluation.
Summer pruning can be done to help direct the growth of a tree by slowing the development of its branches. However, this should only be done after its seasonal growth is complete. Another reason for summer pruning is for corrective purposes. Deadwood, broken branches and defective limbs should be removed to protect the health, safety, and structural integrity of a tree. However, pruning should be avoided during the fall season because fungi tend to spread their spores more profusely during this season and the healing of pruning wounds can take longer making them more susceptible to disease and insect infestation.
Best Pest & Disease Practices
Like all living things, trees are susceptible to getting sick. If left untreated, a tree can die or even infect nearby trees. While early detection is the key to controlling a situation before it spreads, common diseases are not always easy to identify. That’s why it’s important to contact a certified arborist to help you detect and get control of a situation before it gets out of hand.
Detecting Common Issues
The easiest way to identify common diseases is to spot obvious changes throughout a tree. Changes to the leaves are usually a good indication something is wrong. Things to look out for include dead or dying foliage, areas without leaves, variations in color and visual damage such as holes or spots. Changes in consistency, color, and missing bark can also indicate a problem.
Treating Common Issues
In most cases, a diseased tree can be treated or doctored by removing dead branches or diseased sections. In extreme cases, however, a tree may need to be removed entirely to preserve the health and safety of nearby trees. When fungus or insect infestations are to blame, it can be harder to eradicate the problem.
Consult With A Tree Care Professional
Consulting a tree care professional is the best course of action if you think you may have a diseased tree on your property. A certified arborist can evaluate your tree and determine the problem before suggesting the best way to resolve the issue. At Westcoast Tree Care, our certified arborist is highly trained to identify and treat diseased trees.
Portland Tree Care
While there are a wide variety of best tree care practices to help you care for your tree, you can trust the certified arborist at Westcoast Tree Care to provide you with the best possible advice and preventative tree care services. If you would like more information contact us at 1.800.767.8733 today. We will take the time to personally walk your property, and provide you with the best possible recommendations along with a no-cost, no-obligation quote.