We’re seeing some gorgeous sunny spring days recently, which means…it’s time to start watering your young tree(s)! A newly planted tree needs at least 10-15 gallons of water each week from roughly now until late September for the first three years in the ground to ensure that they thrive going forward. Providing one deep watering over the entire root system per week is recommended. You can think of it as giving your tree a weekly rain shower – every Saturday morning, for example. If we have approximately 90-degree or warmer weather consistently or if your tree shows any signs of being thirsty (wilting, browning leaf margins, etc), it wouldn’t hurt to double up and water both Tuesday and Saturday that week.
There are a number of different ways to make watering easier. You can easily construct your own 5-gallon bucket drip system or purchase a 15-gallon slow-release watering bag (such as a gator bag). Please note we no longer will be offering these from the Friends of Trees as we have in years past, but that is because they are readily available online and in local hardware and garden stores. Also, be sure to check out our Tree Care page to get all the details on taking care of your new investment.
Remember that weeds and grass compete with your tree for water. Please maintain the mulch for your tree(s) and hand pull weeds. When you mulch, be sure that there is a 3-6” radius from the base of the trunk of the tree that is free of mulch. You want that space clear so there’s no moisture held at the base of the trunk, which can rot the tree’s root crown. The moisture held by mulch should be above the growing root tips as they grow outward from the trunk, for the most part within about 18″ of the soil surface. Also, please be careful not to damage the tree bark with lawn mowers, weed eaters, or car doors. The bark is what contains a tree’s water and nutrient transportation system; it also keeps insects and diseases out.
We have volunteer Summer Inspectors out visiting every street and yard tree planted in the previous season, and they keep us informed on the health of the trees we plant. If you have a tree that isn’t looking so great, please trust that after Summer Inspectors complete their routes this summer we will then determine if staff needs to check on your tree.
Portland Urban Forestry recommends an annual root pruning for trees planted in the streets, especially those in narrower planting strips, to discourage roots from growing under sidewalks. Here is a link to learn more.
Pay it Forward! Friends of Trees couldn’t reach our high goals without supporters like you. In order to continue providing tree discounts and plant in as many neighborhoods possible, we need your help! Please consider making a donation to help us grow our urban forest for both this and future generations.
Hopefully we’ve answered your questions and you’ve found these links helpful, but feel free to contact us if you have any questions at 503-595-0212 or email me at AndrewL@FriendsofTrees.org .
Congratulations, you helped plant 50,000 trees and native shrubs last season! Now what? Good thing Friends of Trees isn’t just a tree planting organization–tree care is also on the list because we want the trees we plant to survive and grow and thrive.
It works.The survival rate for urban trees planted the Friends of Trees way, together, with guided post-planting care from our Tree Team, is 97% (based on Portland street trees planted last season). For the subset of trees we’ve been monitoring for nine years since planting it’s an 88% survival rate.
Our trees planted in natural areas also have strong survival rates, especially given some very challenging conditions; for example, some planting sites are not accessible for watering; some plants get eaten by wildlife; humans sometimes trample or vandalize; etc. Some studies indicate that an acceptable minimum survival rate for riparian area restoration plantings is 50%, so our survival rates of 81% in year one and 70% after three years are particularly impressive.
How do we help trees thrive?
We water. We prune. We mulch. We visit and assess. We do this for the street and yard trees planted through our Neighborhood Trees program as well as for the native trees and shrubs planted in our Green Space program.
As part of our Neighborhood Trees post-planting care, we:
- continually share information with tree-recipients about how much water, mulch and pruning trees need;
- deliver and apply free mulch soon after trees are planted;
- offer a summer watering service for a reasonable fee;
- have a Summer Inspector program where trained volunteers visit all newly planted trees twice in the first summer after planting to inspect for tree health, leaving tree care info for the tree recipient.
- have a longer term monitoring program where we visit subsets of trees planted anywhere from two to 10 years ago, to track health and growth;
- prune trees throughout the year (except for a few weeks in the spring and fall when trees are budding or dropping leaves). We rotate neighborhoods each year and focus most of our work on low income, low canopy and/or historically under-served communities.
Did we mention we prune? Last season we pruned more than 1,600 street trees, which is vital toward proper growth and really helps them survive wind, snow, and ice storms.
Our Green Space program also cares for the new trees and shrubs planted in natural areas, and we do this for up to 10 years after planting. The team is often joined by employee volunteer groups who help with summer maintenance tasks such as watering, mulching, and weeding (also called “day-lighting” since we’re clearing space around new plantings to provide for more light and air, and to reduce competition with weeds). We also assess for survival and replant when necessary.
Volunteers help with this! We train volunteers to inspect and prune trees, and volunteers are crucial to effectively mulching thousands of new trees at tree care events.
All told, we care for and monitor more than 54,000 trees a year!
We’re spreading the good word about trees.
We spend much of the summer spreading the word. Our Volunteer & Outreach Team, aided by dedicated Tree Team Ambassadors, attend events, festivals and fairs; plus, we have a crew of Canvassers who go door to door in priority neighborhoods. We strive to reach historically under-served, low-canopy neighborhoods with information about how to volunteer with us and how to get a tree from us. Interested in being a part of this? We’d love for you to join us.