Sensible tree planting can result in years of delight

Cynthia Orlando

Oregon Department of Forestry

Warmer temperatures in Ore-gon can take a toll on our landscape trees, and this is especially true if, in addition to warm temperatures, there’s been little rainfall in the area.

Prolonged drought may make trees more prone to problems with insects or disease.

Deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in the winter) usually show signs of drought with leaves that turn yellow, or curl at the edges. Being conscientious about your trees’ watering needs is one way to provide preventive health care for your tree.

Watering tips

When the temperatures have been warm and your trees have had little water from rainfall, give them special watering priority. Make sure your trees get the water they need by soaking the ground around the tree using a regular hose. You might also consider a soaker hose, which works well because it allows water to slowly soak and penetrate into the soil. Run the soaker hose from the base of the tree in a spiral out to the drip line.

The drip line is the imaginary circle that could be drawn on the soil around your tree, directly under the tips of its outermost branches. Mulch is recommended. It helps prevent soil temperature and moisture fluctuations during summer months and discourages weeds. Just don’t overdo it, because a tree’s roots need to breathe; adding a depth of 4 to 6 inches around the base of your tree is fine.

Spread the mulch one to two feet out from the trunk, and leave a 3- to 4-inch ring around the base of your tree mulch-free.

Fall months: a favorable time to plant new trees

Ever wish you had more trees on your property? While most people associate planting trees with spring, the upcoming fall months are actually a good time to plant trees as well.

These last lazy days of summer are a good time to think about what to plant when summer’s over.Take time to think about both the needs of the tree and the site you’re planting it in. Does the space lend itself to a small, medium, or large tree? Are there any overhead or below ground wires in the area?

Make sure the site you choose provides enough room for your tree to grow to maturity, both above and below ground.

Do you want a tree that will provide good shade? If properly placed, large shade trees such as maples, sycamores or magnolias can reduce summer cooling costs. If you want to plant a tree to provide a visual screen in your yard and you have plenty of room, a conifer will do a better job than a deciduous tree, which loses its leaves in the winter.

If providing fall color is your goal, then trees like scarlet oak, sweetgum or dogwood may be on your list of trees to consider.

Tree-planting tips

A large hole will allow better root growth and is especially important in compacted soils.

Dig the hole at least 2 feet wider than the size of the root system or root ball, and handle your new tree by the root ball, not by the trunk. Once in the hole, remove the wire basket (if there is one), and the burlap and ties. You may need to rock the tree gently to do this.

The most common tree planting mistake is planting the tree too deep. If the tree is planted too deeply, new roots will have a hard time developing because of lack of oxygen. So, make sure the roots are covered with soil, taking care not to plant your tree too deeply. Set it slightly above the level of the surrounding soil to allow for setline and increased soil drainage.

Again, remember to mulch your new tree, and barring rain, water deeply at least once a week, and more frequently during warm weather.

Trees pay us back

Trees are a vital component of a healthy community because they provide clean air, clean water and psychological well being. Trees also reduce energy costs and raise property values. Lastly, studies show trees have a positive economic impact on the local community. Taking time to think about tree care, planting and maintenance will pay you back many times over.

For more information about trees and tree care, visit