Simple ways to protect your tree on windy days

The Pacific Northwest is experiencing a historic windstorm event in September, 2020. These winds can cause serious damage to both young and established trees. When the winds pick up, you can take some simple steps to prevent damage to your tree friend.

What should I do to protect my trees from wind?

Watering your trees on windy days can help reduce or prevent damage to leaves.

1. Wind causes leaves to dry out more quickly. That’s why it’s important to make sure tree roots have access to water in the soil to replenish the water lost through their leaves. If trees don’t have enough access to water in the soil, the leaves can dry out, and potentially cause dieback.

  • Newly planted trees (1-5 years since planting): Make sure to give young trees a nice, deep soaking of the root zone with about 10-15 gallons of water. That’s three large buckets of water, slowly added to the soil. Make sure you soak all of the soil within two feet of the trunk, and imagine you are trying to reach the roots about a foot deep in the soil.
  • Established trees (5+ years): This is a great job for a soaker hose or sprinkler, slowly moistening the soil around the edge of the canopy of the tree. Some mature trees are already experiencing drought stress, so it’s extra important to give them an extra drink during windy periods.

2. You can try to protect the leaves with windbreak.

If it’s possible to establish a windbreak, or to attach a frost cloth securely to your tree’s canopy, this can protect your tree from harsh winds. Friends of Trees cautions against this simply because young trees don’t have established root systems, and a fabric covering might act as a wind sail. You may just end up sending your tree on an unintended journey across your yard. Use your best judgement.

 

Wind can cause water to exit leaves too quickly, causing damage to the leaves or canopy dieback on this Seven Son Flower tree.

Why does my tree lose water through its leaves?

Water loss through leaves is due to a process called transpiration, which is essentially the process that occurs after your tree takes up water from the soil, uses it for photosynthesis, and then releases it back into the air. The US Geological Survey explains it this way:

“The typical plant, including any found in a landscape, absorbs water from the soil through its roots. That water is then used for metabolic and physiologic functions. The water eventually is released to the atmosphere as vapor via the plant’s stomata — tiny, closeable, pore-like structures on the surfaces of leaves.”

That water (H2O), of course, plays an important role in photosynthesis while inside the plant, reacting with carbon dioxide (CO2) to produce some delicious sugars for the plant to eat (C6H12O6) and some complimentary fresh oxygen (O2) for us!

So, why does the wind cause tree leaves to dry out more quickly?

Because water likes to distribute itself evenly, it will tend to move from a moist location to a drier location. If the inside of the leaf is moist, and the outside air is also moist, water won’t feel the need to jump ship.

But, as Wikipedia explains, “wind blows away much of this water vapor near the leaf surface…speeding up the diffusion of water molecules into the surrounding air.” The wind moves the moisture away from the leaf, encouraging more water to exit the leaf and re-moisten the surrounding air.

So, keep an eye out for dry/windy weather in the forecast, and make sure your trees and plants are prepared. And give special attention to evergreens in windy/dry periods during the winter, as these trees with year-round leaves and needles will transpire year-round as well.

A lot of trees and tree stories – 16,000+ trees planted so far this season!

“It was an amazing day, perfect weather, awesome people and healthy trees! Couldn’t ask for a better planting day, truly.” Alex, volunteer tree planter (above photo taken at our Gresham planting event)

So far in our 2019-20 planting season we’ve planted more than 16,000 trees and native shrubs! Here are some highlights from some amazing days this season:

 

Neighborhood Trees Program: 820 trees planted

“It was wonderful to plant in our neighborhood! I look forward to checking up on all of our trees over the next few years.” -Neighborhood Trees volunteer planter

820 street and yard trees have been planted at nine events so far this season. 900 volunteers turned out to plant trees in Portland, Eugene, Vancouver, Oregon City, Beaverton, and Clark County, WA. (above photo from our November planting in Vancouver)

Green Space Program: 15,800 trees planted

“The team created a warm and welcoming environment. It was a lovely event that we truly enjoyed!” -Green Space planting volunteer
15,800 trees and shrubs have been planted in natural areas at 16 events since October. 1,000 volunteers turned out for restoration events in Eugene, Hillsboro, Troutdale, Tigard, Salem, Tualatin, Gresham, Cornelius, Happy Valley, and Wilsonville. (above photo taken at our Cornelius event in November)

Trees & Health Symposium in Gresham on Nov 13

Volunteers at a Friends of Trees planting in Gresham's Nadaka Park
Volunteers at a Friends of Trees planting in Gresham’s Nadaka Park

We all know that trees provide benefits to people and the communities they live in.

But do you know how to care for trees to help them thrive, and how you can add to Gresham’s tree canopy at home or in your neighborhood?

The Gresham Trees and Health Symposium will feature a mix of speakers, film, discussion, tree care booths, light refreshments, and a summary of the City’s Green Gresham, Healthy Gresham tree project in Rockwood.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019
6:00 – 8:00 PM, Rockwood Boys & Girls Club

More information and registration information is here, thank you to our co-hosts Multnomah County and City of Gresham!

Get to know our partner: Portland General Electric

PGE CEO Maria Pope at FOT’s April planting event in Tualatin.

PGE has supported Friends of Trees since our beginning, contributing time and funding toward our shared goals of greening our region and building community.

As Friends of Trees has grown, PGE’s support has grown. PGE has sponsored hundreds of tree planting events over the past three decades, and its employees have donated hundreds of volunteer hours. And in honor of 30 years of trees + community PGE has announced a special gift that will help Friends of Trees reach the milestone of one million trees planted since our inception.

“To celebrate Friends of Trees’ significant impact on our beautiful state, we’re investing $100,000 and volunteer power, over the next five years, coming together with the community and our customers to reduce carbon, strengthen neighborhoods and improve our environment.” -Kregg Arntson, PGE’s director of Corporate Social Responsibility

In addition to donating time and money, PGE partners with Friends of Trees to plant the right type of tree in the right place. This helps prevent tree-related power outages, contributing to safe, reliable power for customers.

Friends of Trees cannot plant 50,000+ trees and native shrubs every year without the support of sponsors like PGE. Their support, since our founding, has been key in our ability to plant 800,000 trees and native shrubs to date with tens of thousands of volunteers. We are just thrilled that PGE’s $100,000 pledge will help us get to the incredible milestone of one million trees planted.

 

This story is from the Summer 2019 edition of our e-news, Treemail; check out the rest of Treemail here.

Bingo! Fun with Friends of Trees

We love our volunteers, for so many reasons. Of course, reason #1 is that volunteers are key to getting 50,000+ trees and native shrubs in the ground every season. Another reason? Fun Bingo responses! At our recent volunteer appreciation party Friends of Trees Bingo featured factoids about FOT, trees and volunteering–and some of those answers were pretty fun. Check it out (“real” answers provided, too):

What is a tree’s favorite beer?

Lager | Root Beer | Rain-here/Rain-eer/Rainier 

Is there a correct answer? This is actually a great opportunity to share important information about the water needs of newly planted trees: 15 gallons a week during the dry summer months for the first few years a tree is in the ground. This requirement has changed as our climate has warmed up, so be sure to water those thirsty trees! Find more tree care tidbits here.

Find someone who first started volunteering this season

Me! | Barry | Carmen

We LOVE that you, Barry, Carmen and so many other community members came out and volunteered with us this season! We hear all the time that a Friends of Trees planting event is the first time someone volunteered for anything; we also hear that one of our events is often the first time someone planted anything. What’s even better: So many first-time volunteers and first-time planters come back again and again for more. This is so special, and just what our community needs. Haven’t yet volunteered with Friends of Trees? Explore how.

What’s a tip for working with kids on a tree planing crew?

Plant the kid in the first hole | Have them look for worms | Snacks | Worms | Snacks

Friends of Trees engages more than 2,000 young people every season, through planting events and school-based partnerships. Our education programming for youth from elementary to high school combines classroom curriculum with field work, helping to grow the next Tree Team generation. Learn more about young people getting their hands dirty through planting trees.

 

What is the most common genus of tree planted in most major cities, including Portland?

Acer (Maple)

OK, so pretty much everyone had the correct answer without even a pun. But this is a great way to remind folks about the importance of planting a diverse variety of trees: Tree diversity helps protect against species-specific pests and diseases, which in turn helps ensure a healthy canopy. Tree diversity also supports a wide range of pollinators and other beneficial insects, and so much more, which is why Friends of Trees strives to provide a diverse tree selection list everywhere we plant. Interested in getting a tree from Friends of Trees? Here’s the first step.

 

Name two FOT planting partners

City of Tualatin | Verde | POIC | PGE | City of Portland | Portland Trail Blazers

We received lots of correct answers and maybe this wasn’t the most humorous category. But we want to use this apparently easy Bingo answer to share that partnerships are just as necessary to our mission as volunteers, and we have so many partnerships. The photo above represents a few:

  • The planting is in Portland’s Cully neighborhood, where our planting partner Verde is based.
  • All Neighborhood Trees planting events in Portland neighborhoods are in partnership with the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services.
  • Pictured in the photo are planters representing a couple of partners: Deward (2nd from left) is a POIC student and FOT Crew Leader, and Julieta (far right) is from David Douglas High School. Our POIC partnership involves student development, education and job training through students training and serving as FOT Crew Leaders; and, for more than six years DDHS students have volunteered at our outer-southeast Portland tree-planting events. (also pictured: Crew Leader Carmen, 1st on the left, and FOT staffers Manuel and Pablo, 3rd and 4th from left)

Further, sponsors such as the Portland Trail Blazers are also crucial to the success of our program, since their support is key to bridging funding gaps. In fact, Trail Blazers was the most common response to this question — #ripcity! (read about our 3s For Trees partnership below). We’d love for your business to join us as a sponsor!

There is so much more to know about trees and Friends of Trees, hone up here!