How To Benefit Trees This Summer

We love trees—who doesn’t? Not only do trees look wonderful, filling our world with beautiful greenery, but they also provide great benefits for humans. Trees turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, provide us with shade and shelter, and are a key part of our ecosystems, being home to countless critters that keep the food chain running.

While trees may look mighty and invincible, they aren’t. There are many things humans can do, or not do, that hurt trees. Thankfully, there are also many things we can do to help trees. In this article, we’ll cover some of the things you can do to help our beloved trees this summer, keeping Oregon nice and green.

5 Things You Can Do for Public Trees and Forests

5 Things You Can Do for the Benefit of Trees This Summer
Hiker in Pacific Northwest forest.

In Oregon, we often take our proximity to trees for granted. Public parks, forests and even urban landscaping ensure we’re never very far from a tree. Here are five things you can do for the trees in your community.

1. Report Tree Issues

If you see a sign of pest infestation or notice a tree that’s suffering from heat stress or has damaged or dying branches, let the appropriate local department know. This can help them properly care for public trees.

2. Join Public Tree Planting and Care Events

Many organizations will hold events to plant new trees or care for existing ones. Sign up to join them! Another pair of hands can make a difference.

3. Spread Awareness About These Events (And the Importance of Helping Trees)

When more people help, more gets done for our leafy friends. Bring a friend or two when you show up to ensure that many hands can make light work. You can even bring your kids along.

Education goes beyond just letting friends and family know there are tree-planting events. We should always make sure everyone knows how important it is to care for trees so that people don’t mistreat them.

4. Don’t Mistreat or Damage Trees

We’ve all seen initials carved into a tree’s bark. While once seen as a testament to true love, we now know not to do this. Carving a tree can be quite detrimental. Never cut the bark, damage the roots or break healthy branches. Trees should be treated with care and respect.

Even the smallest wound could weaken a tree or open it to health hazards, such as pests or disease. This is one way humans can help trees by just doing nothing.

5. Be Careful During the Fire Season

When temperatures rise in the Pacific Northwest, fires can start far more quickly. If you must use fire, make sure to do so away from trees and have water on hand to drown any sparks. Forest fires can damage thousands of acres of trees if not more, and if you’re the one who causes it, you could be lucky to escape with your life.

Before you light a fire in any location, including on your own property, check the current Oregon fire restrictions. Breaking these restrictions can not only result in huge fines but could cause a wildfire that destroys thousands of acres of Oregon trees.

5 Things You Can Do for the Trees (That You Own)

It can be very rewarding to have trees on your property; however, it can also be a lot of work. Here are five things you can do for the trees on your property to care for them in the heat of summer.

1. Water Trees Deeply

Like us, trees get thirsty and dehydrated. In fact, some of the largest trees can transpire more than 100 gallons of water every day in warm weather. Dehydration can lead to heat stress in trees—when evergreen needles turn brown or leaves fall prematurely. To prevent heat stress in trees on your property, water regularly. When watering, wait until close to dusk, otherwise, there is a risk the water will evaporate under the hot summer sun. Also, make sure to water at the drip line—the edge of the tree’s canopy, close to the tips of the roots.

5 Things You Can Do for the Benefit of Trees This Summer
Proper mulching should be in the shape of a donut around the tree, leaving a gap between the pile of mulch and the tree trunk.

2. Mulch Your Trees

Mulching helps trap water in the soil instead of evaporating, helps to regulate the trees’ temperature and provides the soil with vital nutrients. When spreading mulch, don’t place it too close to the trunk, or there is a risk of fungus growth due to excess moisture. Instead, mulch in a donut shape, leaving a gap around the trunk.

3. Prune Your Trees

Pruning trees is crucial for their overall health and development. By removing dead, diseased, or damaged branches, the tree can focus its energy on the remaining branches and leaves, promoting new growth. This promotes the tree’s health and strengthens its structure, making it less susceptible to damage from wind, snow or ice during the harsh winter months. Additionally, pruning reduces the risk of spreading diseases and pests to other parts of the tree or other nearby trees.

4. Be Careful During Lawn Care

Look out for your trees when moving the lawn. Mowing too close to a tree’s base can cause damage to the bark or even the roots, which can be detrimental to its growth and overall health. Also, don’t over-fertilize your lawn since it will compete with trees for valuable nutrition and water in the soil. Some lawncare products can actually be detrimental to trees if applied on exposed roots. Always read and follow the product instructions carefully for optimal results.

5. Watch Out for Pests

5 Things You Can Do for the Benefit of Trees This Summer
Ash tree damaged by emerald ash borer infestation.

Regularly inspect your trees for signs of pest infestations. Knowing common tree pests and how to spot them is a must for tree lovers who want their trees to grow big and strong.

Catching an infestation early can prevent it from spreading beyond your yard. Talk to an arborist right away if you notice an issue.
In particular, Oregonians should be on the lookout for signs of infestation of the emerald ash borer. This little beetle was originally discovered in the United States in 2002 in Michigan and has since killed millions of trees. As the name states, this insect essentially eats ash trees from the inside out and could be devastating Oregon ash.

Oregon ash is one of 16 North American ash species and the only one native to the Pacific Northwest. Experts agree that Oregon ash trees are perhaps the most important species for riverbank stabilization and shade for Willamette River tributaries. Losing those trees would likely lead to increased stream temperatures and an accompanying decline in water quality. So far, the emerald ash borer has not been discovered outside of Forest Grove, but experts fear it’s only a matter of time. Learn more about the emerald ash border in this OPB article.

If you feel strongly about caring for the trees, learn how professional foresters care for Oregon’s forests year-round at Oregon Forests Forever.

We’re focused on actively and sustainably managing our forests in Oregon.

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