Caring for your new fruit tree                 

We hope you can join us April 18 for our annual Fruit Tree Giveaway! A $5 donation is suggested, and even if you doubled that, you’re still escaping with a great deal on a tree.

Structural pruning of your young fruit tree helps it hold literally hundreds of pounds of fruit once it matures. Photo: FoT File
Structural pruning of your young fruit tree will help it hold literally hundreds of pounds of fruit once it matures. Photo: FoT File

Inexpensive is a great price point, but unlike shade trees, fruit trees require extra care and investment in the first three years.

“A young shade tree only needs to be structurally sound enough to support leaves. A fruit tree will support hundreds of pounds of fruit,” says Andrew Land, one of FoT’s staff arborists. It’s important to properly prune your new tree during the first three years of its life.”

You can call on one of our partner arborists to take care of the pruning or for the DIY inclined, visit our kindred souls at the Portland Fruit Tree Project —they’re awesome, informed, and helpful.

While pruning requires knowledge and care, there are three very important things you can do for your tree right off the bat:

Plant your fruit tree in a spot with lots of space to grow, and lots of sunlight each day (southeast exposure is great). Photo: FoT file

1. Location, Location, Location…
If possible, choose a location on the southeast side of your property. Allow enough space for the tree to grow and plant your new tree in an area that will get plenty of sunlight. This will help both the overall health of the tree and aid in ripening fruit.

2. Thirsty, so very thirsty…
Your new tree needs 10-15 gallons of water per week. That downpour—no matter how soaked your clothes were—still doesn’t satisfy your tree’s water requirements. Fill a five gallon bucket up 2-3 times a week and give your fruit tree’s roots a deep drink.

3. #mulchmadness…
What kind of mulch? Short answer, brown: wood chips, bark dust, compost—any sort organic matter that’ll direct food and nutrients down to the roots and help retain water. Just follow the rules of 3 for mulching:
3 foot diameter of mulch
3 inches deep
3 inches from base of the trunk.

At last year’s Fruit Tree Giveaway we sold out of trees, and even with more trees on hand this year, we’d still encourage people to come out early: We’re beginning at 10 a.m. on April 18 and go through 1 p.m.

The event is held at Friends of Trees’s north parking lot at 3117 NE Martin Luther King Blvd in Portland. If you can’t make this event, you can help keep the Northwest’s tree canopy healthy by donating or volunteering.

Community Nature Walks: Celebrating trees and health!

By Erica Timm

Wishing Tree1
Capturing all the wishes shared with the tree (E. Timm)

What do trees, walking and socializing with friends and neighbors all have common? Well, they’re all good for your health!

We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Arbor Month than to host a Community Nature Walk in a few communities around Portland this month. Check the list below to find the one fits your schedule best:

  • Boise-Eliot Neighborhood: Thursday, April 9th at 1 p.m. meeting at Lot 13 (​4009 N Mississippi Ave​) – map​
  • Lents Neighborhood: Wednesday, April 15th at 6 p.m. meeting at the Lents Tool Library (9211 SE Ramona St) – map​
  • Portsmouth Neighborhood: Saturday, April 25th at 10 a.m. meeting at the N Houghton-Fortune intersection​ – map

These walks bring folks together for an hour long walking conversation about the neighborhood nature gems we’ll discover along the way and other related tree topics. Some highlights may include a wishing tree, a topiary animal hedge, a community orchard, a healing garden and more…

Join us for a walk, or all three, to learn more about Portland’s neighborhood nature gems!

For more information, contact Erica at or 503-467-2533.

For more information on the many health benefits of trees, visit the Green Cities: Good Health website.

Erica Timm is a Senior Neighborhood Trees Specialist

When Ascomycota met Ladd’s Addition

Portland’s Ladd’s Addition was one of the first developed neighborhoods in the Western United States. The

Ready, Set Plant...Lauren Wang
Ready, Set Plant…Lauren Wang

planned community’s level of specificity included guidelines for park space and the directive to plant over 1,600 trees. The master plan called for maple, linden, birch, locust, the aptly named hawthorne, and American elms.

In 1991, Dutch elm Disease, an Asian fungus discovered by Dutch scientists that has taken a horrible toll on American Elm trees, reached Ladd’s Addition. In response, concerned homeowners and tree enthusiasts formed Save Our Elms to combat the toll of infected and disappearing trees.

Lauren Wang
Sticking to the plan – Photo Lauren Wang

Thanks to their mindful efforts, pruning, and inoculation programs, 74 percent of the American Elms survive in this SE neighborhood with diagonal streets. Along with preventative measures, Save Our Elms has been filling in the gaps with disease-resistant elms. This year during the first weekend of March, volunteers gathered in a style that would be familiar to anyone who has spent time with Friends of Trees, to plant trees.

According to SOE volunteer Lou Miles Ladd’s Addition is unique because it’s, “A historic district, but NOT based on its architecture.  Instead, it’s based on the street plan and the 1910 street tree plantings.” Because of this, new plantings  reflect the original plan. So if a tree is going in on Ladd Ave, it will be a disease resistant it will Accolade elm.

Planting Trees

You can learn more about Ladd, Ladd’s Addition and Portland by traveling to the museum of the city. Thanks to Lauren Wang for the photos and a hearty thank you to all the volunteers, donors and supporters who work with Save Our Elms to keep the city’s canopy green and healthy.

From tiny seed to street giant

When our volunteers deliver a tree to your curb by pickup truck or bike trailer, the tree just sort of appears—poof!—like magic. (Our volunteers are pretty magical.) But the story of that young tree goes back 3-7 YEARS when it was a tiny seed in a greenhouse.

Where does Friends of Trees get its trees? From 10-15 nurseries located within about an hour of Portland. We only use local nurseries and don’t accept donated trees, ensuring highest quality.

“A good number of these nurseries have had relationships with Friends of Trees for years,” says Whitney Dorer, our Neighborhood Trees Manager.

One of those nurseries is Rigert Shade Trees  in Aloha. Owner Vince Rigert says our relationship started with a phone call more than a decade ago, and now Friends of Trees is his largest nursery customer.

“Now we’ve both gotten a little bigger, and I’m really happy that we’re able to do business,” Rigert says.

Gingko seedling
Depending on the species, it can take years for a tree to grow 1 or 2 feet tall. Photo: Creative Commons

From a tiny seed in a greenhouse, a tree spends its first year or two growing to be a foot or so tall. That’s when Rigert Shade Trees plants it in a pot or in the ground.

Rigert Shade Trees
Nurseries try to grow trees with strong, upright branch structure. Photo: Rigert Shade Trees

For the next several years, growing a strong branch structure is really important. “You have to keep an eye on it all growing season long,” says Rigert. Ideally a tree grows with a strong main trunk and no competing leaders, which create a “Y” shape and a weaker structure. The nursery keeps weeds away from the tree and fertilizes its roots so it grows strong.

Volunteers load trees into a big moving truck to take to the neighborhood staging area. Photo: FoT File
Volunteers load trees into a big moving truck to take them from the nursery to your neighborhood. Photo: FoT File

Finally, it’s time for the tree to make its trip to the city. All along, the nursery has been managing the roots and “root pruning” where necessary. This ensures that when the tree is dug up, the important roots come with it. “This gives the best survivability, because the roots give all the water and nutrients to the tree,” Rigert says.

Trees are delivered to the neighborhood staging area and ready to plant! Photo: FoT File
Trees are delivered to the neighborhood staging area and ready to plant! Photo: FoT File

The Friday before a neighborhood planting, staff and volunteers pick up the trees from nurseries in a big Penske truck. Sometimes they get delivered to the neighborhood staging site.

Friends of Trees Beaverton planting
Neighbors plant the tree together! Photo: FoT File

When the tree gets planted along your street, it’s about 3-7 years old with a trunk that is at least 1.5 inches in caliper (diameter). This is mature enough to survive the tough early years as a street tree while still young enough that transplanting doesn’t shock the roots. Plus, the root ball is not too heavy for volunteers to lift.

From there, the tree’s story continues for decades, as the it grows tall in your neighborhood!