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Archive for the ‘Tree’ Category

What are the Best Fruit Trees to Plant in Portland?

Friday, February 15th, 2019


Interested in making a fruitful investment into your home and life? Plant a fruit tree on your property! Planting fruit trees has many benefits:

  • Adds natural beauty
  • Increases the value of your home
  • Provides privacy
  • Offers a strong root system around your house to help hold soil in place
  • Contributes to lower blood-pressure and improved overall psychological and emotional health
  • Provides delicious fruit for you and your family to enjoy!

As the Portland area’s full-service tree care provider, we often get asked about planting fruit trees and what varieties grow best in this area. The good news is, when it comes to the type of fruit you can grow, Portland is ripe with opportunity.

Keep reading for a complete guide to the best type of fruit trees to grow in Portland.



Apple trees thrive in wet, mild climates, so it’s no surprise that our state produces roughly 125 million pounds of this crunchy and delicious fruit every year!

There are thousands of apple varieties that are grown in Oregon, so you have a lot of options to choose from, including…

  • Fuji
  • Gala
  • Honeycrisp
  • Braeburn

Just think of all the wonderful fall-themed dishes, desserts, and drinks you can make fresh from your yard!



Is there anything more iconic than a bowl full of cherries from the PNW? This candy-like fruit is an Oregon favorite. And there’s nothing quite as stunning as a cherry tree in the spring. Many people plant cherry trees on their property just to witness their blossoms!

The most popular types of cherries to grow here in Portland are…

  • Bing
  • Sweetheart
  • Royal Ann
  • Rainier



Did you know that pears are Oregon’s official state fruit? In fact, 84% of pears grown in the US come from the area. Warm days, cool nights, and easy access to plenty of water and rich, volcanic soil provide an environment that’s perfect for pears to grow and thrive on your Portland property.

The most popular pear varieties grown here in this are include…

  • Anjou
  • Bartlett
  • Bosc
  • Concorde



Plum trees typically produce fruit for several weeks during the summer and are a unique fruit to grow on your property — particularly if you enjoy making jams and jellies!

Favorite types of plums grown here in Oregon are…

  • Italian prunes
  • Empress
  • Santa Rosa
  • Shiro



Their tropical look might fool you into believing they belong in jungle, but the truth is that figs grow wonderfully here in the Pacific Northwest! In fact, they’re a backyard favorite for many.

Like all types of fruit trees, pruning fig trees takes some special care, but other than that, this type of tree is fairly hardy and very easy to care for. Depending on the variety you choose, you may even get two crops in one year!



A sweet and juicy peach is a wonderful late summer treat. And though Oregon isn’t known for peaches in the way other states like Georgia are, peach trees do thrive here.

There are a few different types of peaches to look into, though for amateur gardeners, we recommend a variety that’s resistant to peach leaf curl, such as…

  • Avalon Pride
  • Frost
  • Salish Summer

You may even want to try planting a donut peach tree which are an extra fun variety of this fruit.


Where to plant a fruit tree

As you consider the type of fruit you want around your home, equally important is that you evaluate your property and understand where the best place to plant will be. Just as the type of tree affects where you choose to plant, the landscape of your property can affect the type of tree you choose.

Remember: A tree planted in the wrong place won’t grow properly and could potentially cause problems for your home.

We always recommend getting an arborist’s opinion on your property before making your final decisions, but here are a few things to consider:

  • It’s typically recommended to plant at least 10 feet from your home and 5 feet away from your fence or property line
  • What areas do you want more privacy?
  • Will planting in a certain spot block sunlight to your home?
  • What other plants and trees are already in your yard?
  • How is the soil on your property?
  • Does your property get direct sun? A lot of shade?


Fruit tree planting tips

Once you’ve chosen the type of tree and the location in your yard, it’s time to plant it! There are some important tips to make sure you give your tree a good start.

  • You typically want to plant in winter or early spring.
  • Dig a hole approximately 2 feet wide by 1.5 feet deep.
  • The top roots of the tree should not be buried more than 2 inches under the soil, as it can suffocate.
  • You generally want to prune the top of your tree as soon as its planted — usually a 1/4 or 1/2 of the top to balance the root to top ratio. Keep in mind though, if done incorrectly pruning can hurt your tree. Always consult an expert.

Once your tree is planted, make sure it gets plenty of water — around 3-5 gallons each week is needed for most young trees. Just be careful not to overwater!


Questions about planting fruit trees in PDX? Ask an arborist!

When it comes to tree care questions, we want to be your first call. Whether you have questions about what type of fruit tree will grow best in your yard, how to plant your tree, or need help with pruning, our master gardeners and ISA-Certified Arborists are always ready to help.

Ask away!



Category Tree, Tree Care

4 Common but Deadly Tree Diseases to Watch for in the PNW

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

Portland-area homeowners need to be aware of the common diseases and fungi that affect our local trees. Left alone, an infected tree can spread the disease to other trees on your property and invite bugs and pests. Plus, they just look bad.

Whether you’ve just noticed the trees around your property are unhealthy or you want to learn how to prevent disease and issues before they start, this blog post will help.

Keep reading to learn the most common and virulent tree diseases that affect trees in the Pacific Northwest (and what you can do to protect against them).


1. Phytophthora root rot

Phytophthora root rot is caused by poor drainage or overwatering in the soil around the tree. The tree becomes unable to absorb the moisture and nourishment it needs from the soil, causing the oxygen-starved roots to slowly die and decay.

In some trees, it can take years of suffering from this disease before it dies. In others, the tree may be killed within a single season.

Types of trees affected by root rot include:

  • Cherry
  • Dogwood
  • Holly
  • Madrone
  • Oak
  • Arborvitae
  • Cypress
  • Juniper
  • Port-Orford cedars
  • Pines
  • Firs
  • Apple
  • Peach


Signs and symptoms of root rot

A tree suffering from root rot will have an overall unhealthy appearance and reduced vigor. A good way to identify root rot include:

  • Poor growth
  • Small, pale leaves
  • Wilted or yellow leaves
  • A thinning canopy
  • Branch dieback

To identify root rot is truly the cause of your tree’s issue, an arborist will need to examine the root tissue a few inches below the soil line. Here’s how they’ll do that:

  • Carefully remove a small amount of outer bark tissue
  • Examine the inner wood, looking for discoloration
  • In advanced tree rot, the tree may have black, dead tissue and a foul smell

How to prevent root rot

Preventing root rot starts with good soil drainage. Avoid overwatering and creating irrigation moats to keep water from pooling against the trunk. Proper care and drainage is particularly important for young trees, as they are especially vulnerable due to underdeveloped root systems and crowns.

How to treat root rot

Since it can take years to notice root rot in a tree, by the time you notice an issue, it may be too late. However, moderately affected trees can sometimes be saved by a professional arborist, who will carefully prune out the infected roots.

If a tree is significantly infected, the best way to control the rot from spreading to other trees on your property is to remove the tree entirely.


2. Verticillium wilt

Verticillium wilt is a serious fungal disease affecting many important trees in the Pacific Northwest. This disease lives in the soil and invades trees through their roots. As it spreads through the branches, it causes the cells of the tree to “plug” themselves. The tree will eventually become so infected that water can no longer reach the leaves.

The most common tree species affected by Verticillium wilt include:

  • Maple
  • Ash
  • Walnut
  • Box elder
  • Oak
  • Linden
  • And more


Signs and symptoms of Verticillium wilt

One common sign of Verticillium (especially in maple trees) is yellow-green streaks. This doesn’t automatically guarantee that the tree has Verticillium. A few other signs may include:

  • One or more branches on one side of the tree suddenly wilt
  • The leaves may appear yellow before the wilt
  • A decline in new twig growth
  • Increase in dead twigs and branches
  • Internally, the tree may have discolored sapwood in the recent annual rings

While these are a few signs to look out for, only a professional examination can positively diagnose the disease in your tree.

How to prevent Verticillium wilt

Verticillium typically only appears in trees that are already damaged or otherwise stressed. So regular care and pruning of dead branches is recommended to maintain the tree’s overall vigor and health.

Since this and other diseases can be transmitted on pruning tools, we always recommend hiring a professional arborist that knows how to properly sterilizes tools before use.

How to treat Verticillium wilt

Unfortunately, this type of disease is incurable. Once present, it will live in the tree forever, eventually killing the tree. The good news is, with proper care from a professional arborist, you can preserve the tree and continue to enjoy it for several more years.

However, depending on the location of your tree and what types of trees and plants are nearby, it may be recommended to remove the tree and replace it with something that is not susceptible to Verticillium.


3. Anthracnose

Anthracnose is a fungal disease that infects shade trees, causing leaf spots, cupping or curling of leaves, and early leaf drop. Mild winter weather combined with wind and rain in the spring increases the presence of this disease, making Anthrancnose a very common problem here in the Portland area.

While this disease typically won’t kill a tree, it can reduce growth and it hurt the overall appearance of the tree.

The most common types of shade trees affected by Anthracnose include:

  • Dogwood
  • London planetree
  • American sycamore
  • Ash
  • Oak
  • Maple
  • Walnut


Signs and symptoms of Anthracnose

Signs of this disease are fairly simple to catch, however the exact symptoms may manifest differently depending on the species of your tree.

The best way to notice problems is to examine the leaves of the tree. Look for…

  • Brown and irregular shaped spots
  • Distorted, cupped, or curled leaves
  • Minor insect feeding wounds
  • Leaves that are most affected on the lower and inner branches of the tree

How to prevent Anthracnose

The best way to prevent Anthracnose is to keep your tree healthy, as this will help it defend against the disease. Proper care includes providing appropriate levels of water and fertilizer, having your trees inspected every few years, and hiring a professional pruner.

How to treat

Immediately removing fallen leaves and twigs from around the tree and your yard is a great way to reduce the next year’s outbreak. You should also have a professional prune away dead twigs and branches from the crown of the tree, which will facilitate better air flow in the canopy.

In serious and repeat cases, your arborist may recommend a fungicide treatment. This treatment is typically best administered in the spring.


4. Bronze Birch Borer & Emerald Ash Borer

These two types of Beetles are very common in the PNW and can wreak havoc on your beloved birch and ash trees. The damage done by these beetles can be severe and deadly. These beetles bore into the wood of the tree and feed on its interior tissue. They will create intricate tunnels inside the tree. They also feed on the tree’s leaves and foliage.

Signs and symptoms of a beetle infestation

The first sign of infestation is typically sparse, stunted, and yellowing leaves at the tree canopy. Eventually, the branches will lose their leaves. Take a close examination of the tree’s bark and leaves and you may also find…

  • Holes and splits in the bark
  • New branches and leaves sprouting from the trunk of the tree or at the base
  • Larvae feeding beneath the bark of the tree
  • Increased woodpecker feeding
  • You can often spot beetles moving around the sunny side of a tree. Bronze Birch Beetles are olive brown in color while the Emerald Ash borer is a metalix color.

How to prevent tree borers

There’s no easy way to protect your trees against these pests. Start by properly caring for your tree, including watering when it’s dry, fertilizing correctly, and booking regular tree inspections.If you have birch or ash trees on your property, you should also talk to your arborist about possible preventive chemical treatments.

How to treat a borer infestation

Once you spot symptoms of beetles, it’s usually too late to save the tree. Likely, the tree will need to be removed. Left for too long, the tree can weaken and may fall on its own, damaging your property, so don’t wait. Always seek immediate help from a professional arborist.


Does your tree look unhealthy? Schedule an inspection today

Here at Northwest Arbor-Culture Inc., we specialize in helping homeowners in the Portland and Vancouver area maintain safe, healthy, and aesthetically beautiful trees.

If you’re worried about the health of your trees, or it’s been a few years since you’ve schedule tree maintenance, give us a call at (503) 348-7642, Our ISA Certified Arborists® would be happy to take a look at your trees and also offer:

Our team of experienced arborists are here to make sure your trees stay healthy, and your home safe.


Chris Nash, Northwest Arbor-Culture Inc. from on Vimeo.

Category Pruning, Tree, Tree Care

How Tall is the Tallest Tree in Portland? (And Other Weird but True Oregon Tree Facts)

Friday, September 28th, 2018

Oregon has long been known for its towering forests with beautiful evergreen and deciduous trees. Here in Portland, we respect these tree so much that in 1993, the City Council passed the Heritage Tree code to promote and protect the finest trees in the region.

But what exactly is the big deal with Portland trees? Why are they such an important part of the city? Keep reading to learn some of the most interesting tree facts in Oregon and why, as a Portlander, it’s important to properly care for and maintain your trees.


1. The tallest tree in Portland is (probably) 242 feet high

Situated in Forest Park is a magnificent Douglas fir tree. The tree sits near Balch Creek and the park’s famous Stone House and has caught the wonder of many residents and visitors alike.

At 242 feet high and with a trunk circumference of 18.6 feet, this tree is a pretty cool sight to see.

Officially, the “tallest tree” title has not been given in Portland. However, this fabulous Douglas fir is thought by many local tree experts to be the largest tree in the city.


2. In the early 1850s, there were “more stumps than trees” in Portland

In 1847, Portland experienced phenomenal growth. Throughout the city, countless trees were being cut down to make way for roads. This was all happening so fast that most tree stumps were left behind until enough manpower could be spared to remove them.

In some areas, these stumps sat around for so long that locals painted them white to make them more visible. During rainy parts of the year, locals used the stumps as a sort of crosswalk, hopping from stump to stump to make it across the street without sinking into the mud,

It was during that time when one man mentioned that there were “more stumps than trees” in the city. Soon, people started referring to the city as “Stumptown.” The name stuck, and even today, Stumptown is a well-known Portland nickname.


3. Oregon still has 91% of the forests that covered the state in 1630

While Portland lost many of its original trees during the 1850s and again in 70s and 80s, Oregon at large has done a great job of maintaining the state’s forest land. In fact, approximately 91% of the forest land base that existed in Oregon in 1630 still exists today!

There have been changes — for instance, the location of forests — but about 28 million of the state’s original 30 million acre forest remains today. Pretty impressive!


4. Portland’s Lone Fir Cemetery was inspired after a true lone fir


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Located in Southeast Portland, Lone Fir Cemetery is one of Oregon’s most treasured historic places and Portland’s second-largest arboretum.

In 1866, the cemetery was named after a single fir tree that grew at the norwest end of the lot.
Today, more than 700 trees representing 67 species live in the cemetery, but the original lone fir still stands. At 85 feet high, the tree is immediately noticeable and very beautiful.


5. Oregon is the #1 producer of Christmas trees in the nation

Christmas trees are commercially grown in 44 states. However, with over 700 Christmas tree growers and about 42,000 acres dedicated to Christmas tree farming, Oregon tops the chart as the #1 producer of this holiday tradition.

In 2015, Christmas tee farming was a 84.5 million dollar industry in Oregon, with almost five million Christmas trees sold. In 2016, that number jumped to 5.2 million trees — well above the 3.5 million trees that came from North Carolina, the next largest producer of the crop.

As you might guess, the top-selling species of Christmas trees in Oregon is the Douglas fir — our state tree. But Noble fir, Grand fir, and Nordmann fir are also popular.


6. The world’s smallest park is in Portland (and it’s home to one little tree)


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Did you know Portland has the smallest park in the world?

Folklore says the park’s origin came when a man named Dick Fagan looked out his window and saw a leprechaun digging a hole in a street median where a light pole was to be place.

According to Fagan, he caught the leprechaun and wished for a park. However, he failed to specify the size of the park in his wish, so the leprechaun gave him the hole.

On St. Patrick’s Day in 1976, the hole became a city park, named Mills End. Located in the median strip of SW Naito Parkway with a total area of 452 square inches, the park is home to one single tree — a Douglas fir sapling.

In 2013, someone stole the park’s one and only tree. Thankfully, their conscience got the better of them, and they returned the little tree a week later.


7. Oregon’s weirdest-looking tree is a giant Sitka spruce

In Cape Meares, Oregon, there sits a massive Sitka spruce tree. This tree, lovingly named the Octopus Tree, features a handful of large branches that reach out about 16 feet from it’s 50-foot base. The result is a tree that strangely resembles giant tentacles.

As a bonus, Cape Meares is also home to the largest Sitka Spruce in the state, called the Big Spruce. This giant tree is 144 feet tall, 48 feet in circumference, and 15 ½ feet in diameter. The craziest part — the tree is estimated to be around 800 years old!


8. Ginkgo trees are popular in Portland — even though they smell like vomit!

Gingko trees line the streets of Portland areas like Northeast Irvington. In the fall, the fan-shaped leaves of these trees shine a brilliant shade of gold, making the entire neighborhood something to behold.

And yet, this color show comes at a cost — a horrible stench that fills the air.

After this hardy urban tree sheds its berries and leaves on the ground, they start to rot, emitting a smell that’s often likened to dirty gym socks or even vomit.

Still, for many, the colorful leaves are worth it.


9. Portland is trying to map all the trees in the city

Portland loves its trees so much, that the Urban Forestry Tree Inventory Project is attempting to map every single tree in Portland.

The map is an almost creepily specific guide to Portland’s trees. Type in any address (maybe even your own!) and the map will show you all the trees located in that area. If you’re not sure what type of trees are around your neighborhood, the map can be really helpful.


Give your Portland trees some love

Trees are closely integrated in Portland’s history and are a beautiful part of our day-to-day life here in Oregon.

If you have trees in your yard or around your property, make sure you give them special care and help preserve their fascinating (and sometimes a little strange) spot in our city’s society.

Regular tree trimming and pruning will ensure your trees stay healthy, look beautiful, and keep your home and family safe. We’re here to make that happen. Let us know how we can help.

Category Tree

Are Trees Dangerous to Kids & Pets?

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Don’t get us wrong— trees are amazing! They provide shade, prevent erosion, look beautiful, and grow for generations, just to name just a few of their incredible benefits. But homeowners in the Pacific Northwest should be aware of the risks trees pose to their kids — both human and furry.

In today’s blog post, our certified tree experts will show you how your trees can hurt your kids and your pets. You’ll also learn how to avoid these dangers and much more.


Climbing and falling

When George Mallory was asked why he climbed Mt. Everest, he famously replied, “because it’s there.” Many kids have the same philosophy when it comes to climbing trees. But parents should be watchful and mindful of the danger posed by falls from even small trees.

Over 100 people are killed every year by falls from trees. While most of these deaths are the result of on-the-job accidents, many kids fall victim as well. Thousands more suffer bumps, bruises, and more serious injuries like broken bones and concussions.

The best thing to do is discourage your child from climbing any tree. Not only is it dangerous to kids but it can damage the trees’ bark and branches, too.


Broken branches and other debris

Here in the Portland area, severe weather can damage a tree, leading to falling branches and even complete collapse of the tree itself. Both are incredibly dangerous situations that can affect both kids and pets. Don’t let your kids, cats, or dogs play outside under trees after:

  • Snowstorms – Ice and snow can weigh down and weaken branches.
  • High winds – Wind storms can snap off tree branches and leave them dangling precariously and ready to fall at any time.
  • Rainy weather – Oversaturated ground can cause even healthy trees to topple over by destabilizing the root system.
  • Heat waves – Hot weather can make branches brittle and more likely to snap off. Long periods of hot dry weather can also affect a tree’s stability and overall health.

The best thing you can to do to protect your family and your trees is to have them regularly inspected and pruned by certified tree experts like those at Northwest Arbor Culture.


Think you know the answer? You might be surprised.
Our experts share what they’ve learned from years of responding to emergency tree service calls.

Read the Post


Insects & Pests

Living trees and old tree stumps can be host to swarms of bees, ants, spiders, and other critters. Cats, dogs, and kids can all be hurt by insect stings and bites. In some cases, a sting or bite can lead to life-threatening allergic reactions. At the very least, ant bites and wasp stings can be very painful!

If you have a dead tree in your yard, have it removed for the safety of your entire family. Keep an eye on living trees for signs of pest infestations like:

  • Visible wasp nests
  • Damage to leaves or bark by insects
  • Unusual growths

Remember that insect infestations can affect the health of the tree, too.


Toxic trees

Most species of trees in Oregon don’t pose a direct threat to kids or most pets. However, horses can be poisoned by:

  • Black walnut trees
  • Maple trees
  • Yew trees (also toxic to humans)

However, just to be safe, keep your kids from eating any leaves or bark from trees. Bark and leaves may contain bacteria, fungus, or other potential hazards.



We specialize in pre-purchase tree inspections. By assessing the health of your trees you may be able to negotiate a lower purchase price by identifying potentially costly problems like:

  • Invasive root systems
  • Decayed and rotting trees
  • Diseased trees

Call us today to learn more: (503) 538-8733



The most serious risk comes not from the trees themselves, but from toxic mushrooms that grow nearby. The shaded and moist ground near the base of a tree makes an ideal habitat for many extremely dangerous mushrooms.

NEVER eat a mushroom you find in your yard unless you are an experienced mushroom forager and know exactly what it is. Many toxic mushrooms are easily confused with mushrooms that are perfectly safe. In Oregon, the most dangerous forms of mushrooms include:

  • Death Cap Mushroom – Can cause liver and kidney failure and death
  • Deadly Galerina – Affects the nervous system and kidneys
  • False Morel – So-named because of its similarity to the delicious Morel, this mushroom can cause diarrhea, dizziness, and even death
  • Destroying Angel – This deadly mushroom contains amatoxins which lead to a slow and painful death

We can’t say this enough: Wild mushrooms can be very dangerous. Keep an eye on your kids and pets to make sure they’re not ingesting them.


How to care for your trees

You can minimize the danger presented to kids and pets by caring for your trees. Here’s a few of our top tree care tips:

  1. Have your trees inspected – Your trees need a check-up to make sure they’re healthy and strong.
  2. Trim and prune large trees – Proper trimming and pruning actually helps improve the tree’s health and longevity.
  3. Remove dead or dying trees – Dead and dying trees are likely to fall or drop branches leading to injuries and possibly even damage to your home.
  4. Water and mulch regularly – Mulch insulates your tree and provides valuable nutrients. Younger trees especially need extra water to take hold and stay healthy. This is very important during the dry summer months here in the Portland area.


Need help with your trees?

portland arborist nw arbor culture

Contact us today for a free estimate from a Certified Arborist.

We’ll take a look at your trees and help you create a tree care and pruning plan that works for you and your family. We’ve been working in the Portland area for decades and there’s no tree service in Portland more committed to customer service than Northwest Arbor Culture.

We’re here to help!

Category Tree, Tree Care

How to Care For a Young Tree

Friday, April 13th, 2018

Do you have a small tree in your Portland yard? Maybe you had a fruit tree planted after moving into your new home, or you’ve had a few new trees planted to reduce erosion. Whatever the reason, if you have a young tree in your yard it needs a little TLC and special attention to thrive.

In today’s post, we’ll talk about how to care for a young tree in your Portland yard. We’ll also share the biggest mistakes homeowners make when caring for smaller trees.


Planning on planting? Read this first.

If you’re thinking about planting a young tree in your yard, there’s a lot to consider. Take a look at these recent articles written by our tree care experts to help you get started.


What comes next?

Once a tree is planted, proper care during the first 5 years of its life is critical. During this time, you need to monitor your young tree to make sure it’s:

  • Getting enough (but not too much) water
  • Safe from damage by bugs or weather
  • Receiving the nutrients it needs and isn’t competing with other plants
  • Pruned and trimmed regularly


Need help with a young tree? We’re here to help.

Read more about our tree services and meet our team of certified arborists and tree experts.




Is your tree getting enough water or too much? Either extreme can be harmful. Here’s what you need to know about watering young trees:

  1. Your sprinklers aren’t enough. Young trees need to develop deep roots for stability and long-term health. Lawn sprinklers don’t provide enough water and encourage the growth of roots near the surface. Depending on the time of year, you may need to supplement your tree’s water supply.
  2. Monitor soil moisture. The soil around your tree should be damp, but not sopping wet. Dig down about 6”. The amount of moisture at the very surface of the soil is less crucial.
  3. Add mulch. Mulching near a young tree (leave an open space of 6-8” from base of the trunk) can help conserve water.
  4. Water deeply.Deep watering” young trees is the best way to deliver water where your trees need it most. Focus on watering slowly, allowing a smaller amount of water to soak deeply into the soil.


Winter, spring & fall

During the Portland area’s rainy months, your young trees will likely get enough water naturally. However, if it’s really rainy, watch out for standing puddles of water near the base of the tree. If you see puddles of standing water, get your trees inspected! There may also be drainage issues in your yard that need to be addressed.

This is the most common sign of a tree that’s getting too much water!



Most summers, the Portland area is very dry and your tree will need extra water. Be on the lookout for these signs your tree isn’t getting enough water:

  • Yellowed or curling leaves
  • Leaves that drop before fall
  • Soil that’s extremely dry and dusty


Weeds, plants, pests, and people

Don’t overlook other threats to your trees! Young trees don’t have the same defenses as mature trees and are more susceptible to damage from a variety of sources.

It’s very important to keep weeds away from the base of younger trees. Plants (even grass from your lawn) will compete with your tree for nutrients and water. Keeping the area around your tree clear of any weeds or plants is crucial for a healthy young tree.

Manual weeding and mulching are the best ways to keep weeds and plants from encroaching on a growing tree. Avoid the use of herbicides or pesticides as these can contain toxins that’ll damage a young tree.

Pests can be especially damaging to smaller trees. Infestations can take hold easier and do more damage. Watch for signs of insects like aphids, beetles, and ants so you can take action before it’s too late!

People are a big threat to growing trees, too! Maturing trees have softer bark and are more susceptible to damage from lawn mowers and weed eaters. Even a little damage to the bark of a young tree can hurt its ability to grow and remain healthy.



Strong winds are especially dangerous to young trees. Their root systems are not fully developed and they may be more likely to fall or be pulled out of the ground during winter storms. Newly planted trees are also more likely to be damaged by frost and ice than older more established trees.

But believe it or not, ice can actually protect younger, smaller trees. During shorter cold spells, ice can act like a blanket, insulating the tree’s branches from colder ambient temperatures.



Sunscald happens during colder months when tree bark gets hot from the sun, and then rapidly freezes at night.

To prevent it:

  • Wrap the trunk with a tree wrap or plastic tree guard
  • Keep the wrap on the tree until early spring
  • If your tree experiences sunscald damage (which appears as elongated, sunken, dried or cracked areas of bark), cut back the dead bark until you reach live tissue



During very windy weather, young trees with flexible trunks may benefit from staking. But don’t stake it too tightly. Your tree should still be able to sway freely without bending so far that it might pull out of the ground.


When to start trimming & pruning

Young trees need to be pruned! It helps them to build a strong structure. If you wait too long to prune your trees, branches may become too heavy and deform the tree. When our tree experts prune and trim young trees, we focus on removing:

  • Dead, diseased, or damaged branches
  • Lower branches encouraging growth of the crown
  • Crossing branches
  • Multiple leaders, especially on evergreens

DON’T FORGET: If an older tree’s canopy is covering a newly planted tree it must be trimmed back. Young trees need plenty of sunlight to grow.


Questions about your young trees?

If you have young trees in your yard, we’d love to come out and take a look. Our certified arborists and tree experts can inspect your trees and suggest a pruning plan. We can also remove older trees and even help with the landscaping of your yard.

Call us today at (503) 538-8733 to learn more.

How to Protect Your Trees From Extreme PNW Weather

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

How to protect your trees from extreme weather

Crippling winter storms, bitter-cold temperatures, increased rainfall, record-high temperatures…here in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve seen it all. In fact, one report named the Pacific Northwest the country’s most extreme weather region in 2017!

As you’d expect, extreme weather conditions can cause problems for trees in Oregon and Washington. Broken branches, root damage, bug problems, and fallen trees are common. Do you know how to protect your trees (and your house and family) during inclement weather?

Keep reading to find out!

Have questions about caring for your trees? Ask our certified arborists!

Keep Some Tools on Hand

Protecting your trees from inclement weather starts with preparation. Whether you have just one or two trees on your property, or live in a heavily wooded area, keeping your garage or shed stocked with a few important tree care tools is important.

Aim to always have the following tools on hand:

  • Pruner
  • Garden stakes
  • Burlap or tarp
  • Stakes
  • Heavy twine
  • Sharp knife
  • Mulch
  • Hose

Keep in mind that working on your trees can be dangerous. If you are dealing with a large tree, or your trees need extensive pruning or care, always call a professional.


Plant Trees When They’re Small

When it comes to handling high winds and strong rain, you want your trees to have deep, sturdy roots. As you’re adding new trees to your property, it may be tempting to choose a fully-grown tree. However, planting a smaller tree is usually better choice.

Smaller trees will grab onto your soil and develop healthy root systems more easily than large trees. Furthermore, starting small allows you to keep the tree properly pruned (and thus more structurally sound) from the beginning.

Though starting small is great strategy for building up a strong tree, keep in mind that young trees are more susceptible to weather damage.


How to Protect Young Trees from Weather Damage

There are a few steps you’ll need to take to keep small trees safe from the elements.

Here’s what you should to do protect young trees from the cold

  • Step 1: Cover your tree with burlap, tarp, or a sheet that extends to the ground. This will help trap the earth’s warmth. You may need to use a frame or stakes to minimize contact between the cover and your tree.
  • Step 2: Water your tree well. Though it may seem counterintuitive, keeping your tree well-watered will help it absorb more solar radiation than dry soil and help it stay warm at night.
  • Step 3: After a freeze avoid pruning the tree until warmer weather.

Young trees are also very susceptible to sun scald. Sun scald usually happens during colder months and occurs when tree bark gets hot from the sun, and then rapidly freezes off when the sun disappears at night.

Here’s how to prevent sun scald on young trees:

  • Wrap the tree trunk with a tree wrap, plastic tree guard, or any light-colored material
  • Keep the wrap on the tree through the late fall through early spring
  • If your tree experiences sun scald damage (which appears as elongated, sunken, dried or cracked areas of bark), cut back the dead bark until you reach live tissue


Give Your Tree Room to Grow

Something else to consider when planting trees is how large they will eventually grow. If your species of Oregon tree will grow to have a wide canopy, don’t plant them too close together. You don’t want your trees to have lots of overlapping branches once it’s fully-grown, as this makes it more susceptible to weather damage.

You also need to give your tree plenty of ground space. Did you know that roots can occupy an area 4 to 7 times the surface area occupied by the top of your tree? Your tree needs room to grow deep roots and become sturdy enough to weather any storm.


Wrap Your Trunks

Although young trees are much more susceptible to weather damage, thin-barked trees can experience cold-weather damage as well. Common thin-barked species include linden, ash, and maple trees.

For these types of trees, or young trees that are very tall, there’s no need to cover the entire tree. Instead, you should just focus on wrapping the trunk.

How to Wrap a Tree Trunk

  • Use a thick, brown paper. Trunk wrapping material can be found at your nearest hardware store.
  • Start at the bottom! If you wrap from the top down, the overlaps will be facing upwards, making it easier for moisture to sneak in.
  • Bury the end of the wrap in the soil. After it’s secured in the ground, start wrapping upwards in a shingle effect. Wrap it only as far as the lowest branches, then loosely secure with tape or twine.
  • Don’t leave the wrap on for too long. This can trap moisture and cause pest problems. Here in the Pacific Northwest, keeping your tree wrapped from November through March is usually fine.


Prune Proactively

how to properly prune your trees

Regular tree pruning is the best way to manage the health of your trees. It’s also important for preventing damage (to your home and property and to the tree) during extreme weather. There are a few specific types of weather-proofing trimming you should consider for your trees.

Wind Sailing

Wind sailing is a type of trimming that entails removing select branches from your tree’s crown so it can bend and move more easily in the wind. This in turn prevents breakage of its roots and stem. This pruning method is best for deciduous trees.


This method of pruning focuses on all the major deadwood in your tree. Removing deadwood is good for your tree’s health and greatly reduces the chance of it breaking and falling during extreme weather.

Standard Trim

A standard trim focuses on thinning out your tree and removing excess growth. This method of pruning also raises and steadies the canopy of your tree. All these things will help reduce liabilities during extreme weather by encouraging proper balance throughout the entire stem of your tree.


Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help!

portland arborist nw arbor culture

If despite your best efforts your trees have taken a hit after cold weather or storm and aren’t doing well, seek help from a professional. In fact, especially when it comes to pruning, it’s always better to get the help of an accredited, certified Portland arborist.

An Arborist is your tree’s doctor and can help you not only fix an issue, but prevent problems from occurring in the first place.

Here at Northwest Arbor Culture, we’ve been helping homeowners care for their trees through extreme weather conditions for over 17 years. We offer the full spectrum of professional tree services and are committed to helping you understand how to properly care for your trees and protect your property.


We’ve helped hundreds of Portland homeowners protect their trees from extreme weather damage!

Read our Reviews


6 Tree Care Tips for PNW Homeowners

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Since you live in the Pacific Northwest, there’s a good chance you have many trees around your home. While these trees may not require as much care and attention as your flower beds or garden, you don’t want to just ignore them!

Taking some time twice a year to give your trees a little TLC will ensure they continue to increase your curb appeal, provide a pleasant landscape for you to enjoy, and not endanger your home.

Keep reading to learn the most important tree maintenance tips from our arbor experts.


First Things First: Know Your Trees

Here in Oregon and Washington, there are a wide variety of beautiful tree species. As you can probably guess, these different types of trees require different care.

Do you know what kind of trees you have on your property? Here at Northwest Arbor Culture, we are happy to help you identify the type of trees living around your home. The Arbor Day Foundation also has an easy-to-use tool for identifying trees.

Once you’ve honed in on the type of trees you’re living with, you should aim to learn the unique needs of each species. A few things to make a note of include:

  • How much water the tree needs and its preferred soil type
  • Whether or not the tree is drought tolerant
  • Any unique stressors, such as a low tolerance to high winds or overwatering



Make Sure Your Trees Get Enough Water

Here in the rainy Pacific Northwest, most trees get plenty of natural water. However, during the summer you may need to give your trees some extra help as an extended drought combined with sunny days is an easy way to kill off your trees.

Make sure you’re giving your trees a good soak a few times throughout the summer. This will ensure your tree and its soil remains healthy. During the winter, on the other hand, you can let your trees sit dormant.

The only exception would be if your tree has been recently planted within the last year. In this case, you’ll want to encourage its growth by making sure it has enough water. A good rule of thumb is that your new tree needs 5 gallons (1.5 inches of rainfall) every week.


Mulch A Few Times a Year

If you’re not familiar, mulch is made of decaying leaves or bark and is used to enrich and/or insulate the soil of your tree. Mulch will not only help protect your tree and its roots from distress, it also looks great.

A new layer of mulch placed around your tree a few times a year will keep soil moist and control weeds. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to use the correct amount. Too much mulch piled up around your tree can cause trunk rot and disease. Too little will defeat the purpose of the mulch in the first place.

How to Apply Mulch Around Your Tree

When applying mulch, the most important thing is to avoid choking your tree. Leave some space around the tree trunk, starting the mulch about 3-6 inches away from the base. Make about a 3-foot circle of mulch around your tree, about 3 inches deep

What Kind of Mulch is Best?

Only use mulch from a reputable source. Avoid just taking some from your neighbor’s leftover mulch pile. These leftover piles may contain materials from diseased trees and will cause more harm than good.

You can make your own mulch by combining materials from your own yard, such as healthy lawn clippings, shredded leaves, branches, and bark. Otherwise, if you have questions about what type of mulch to buy, give us a call. We’d be happy to help.



Your Tree Bark Matters

The bark on your tree is its natural armor against infection, disease, and rot. As you’re mowing your lawn or weed whacking around your property, take care not to knick your trees. Similarly, keep an eye out for anything else that might be causing regular damage to the bark of your trees.


Keep Pests Out of Your Tree Branches

Here in Oregon and Washington, we’re lucky to be surrounded by lots of beautiful wildlife. While animals like deer, squirrels, and raccoons can be fun to observe, they can also damage your trees if you’re not careful.

If you’re in an area that sees a lot of deer or has a rodent issue, there are a few steps you can take to not only protect your trees, but your entire yard and home. Keep in mind that a rat in your tree can usually scurry along branches and find a way onto your roof.

Here are some ways to keep pests out of and away from your trees.

  • Install deer fencing around your tree or the perimeter of your home
  • Add trunk guards to your trees to keep rodents away
  • Use a pest control spray along the perimeter of your property, if necessary


Don’t Forget to Prune Your Trees Regularly

Pruning is perhaps the most involved tree maintenance task you’ll need to perform. It’s also one that needs to be performed carefully. Improper pruning can prompt disease to spread, destabilize your tree, and in extreme cases, make it fall over.

We recommend hiring a professional arborist to handle the task– especially if you’ve never pruned a tree before. Pruning your trees, especially if they are large trees, can be dangerous and cumbersome. Working with a licensed, certified arborist will ensure your trees remain a safe, healthy, and beautiful part of your property.

If you want to go at the pruning process alone, here are some best practices to follow:

  • Remove dead or broken branches.
  • Get rid of crossing branches which are rubbing against each other and damaging the bark. Typically, you should remove the smaller branch, encouraging the stronger branch to continue growing.
  • Remove low branches, branches prone to damage, or branches encroaching on your house or roof


Tips for Cutting Branches

  • Use clean and sharp tools, sanitizing them between different trees
  • Cut down to the main trunk or lateral branch
  • When cutting back to a main stem or branch, avoid making a flush cut. Leave a small collar of the branch, which will help protect your tree against pathogens

Even with all this in mind, be aware pruning techniques can be specific to each type of tree. It’s always best to consult a professional arborist before undertaking a large pruning job.



Count On Northwest Arbor Culture to Care for Your Trees

Need some extra help maintaining the trees on your property? Whether you need tree pruning or removal, are concerned about the health of your trees, or want to improve the overall landscape of your property, we can help.

Northwest Arbor-Culture Inc. is a full-service tree care, landscape, property maintenance and forest management provider. For over 30 years, we’ve been providing services to homeowners and businesses in Portland, Vancouver, and the surrounding areas of Oregon and Washington.

We are proud of our reputation for being the most dependable, professional, and educated team in the Northwest. We offer quality services at a fair price and unmatched customer attention.

Contact us to learn more or call us at (503) 538-8733 to schedule a free estimate.

Category Pruning, Tree, Tree Care

Buying A Home? Don’t Forget To Inspect The Trees!

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018


Shrewd house hunters always await a professional inspection before purchasing a home. Too often, though, homebuyers completely neglect to inspect the trees surrounding the house and property.

It’s always a good idea to hire an ISA Certified Arborist before buying a house. A yard may require extensive tree maintenance or have other tree issues you’ll need to take care of. Partnering with an Oregon and Washington arborist will help you avoid unexpected surprises down the road.



Why Inspect Your Trees?

Inspecting the trees in a yard before purchasing a house ensures the property aligns with all local landscaping regulations. A professional and certified Washington and Oregon arborist knows what to look for and will help ensure you make a fully informed decision.

Beyond regulations, the most important reason for a pre-purchase home and property tree inspection is safety. Problematic trees pose a great risk of damaging your property or endangering your family.



Tree Issues to Watch for When Purchasing a Home

Your realtor or home inspector may not understand how to spot signs of a problematic tree. An ISA Certified Arborist, on the other hand, will know exactly what to look for. They will ensure you are fully informed as you make the big decision to buy a home in Oregon or Washington.

Here are a few of the things an ISA Certified Arborist will look for when inspecting a house and property.

Tree Species

Beyond potential tree dangers or issues, it’s smart to know the species of trees you’ll be dealing with. Here in Washington and Oregon, there are over 60 native tree species alone!

Arborists will begin by determining the type of trees on the property. Then, they’ll educate you on what to expect, including:

  • Seasonal characteristics of the trees
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Common issues

Whether or not you have any interest in trees, knowing the species surrounding your property is very important for maintaining your new house and yard.



Dead, Dying, or Diseased Trees

Dead, dying, or diseased trees on your property don’t just look bad, they are also a huge inconvenience and potentially catastrophic. Dead or dying trees attract pests and can fall without warning. Diseased or pest infected trees can spread to other trees around your property.

A dead or dying tree on your property can’t fix itself. It will be your job as the new homeowner to take care of the issue. This can be an expensive undertaking, especially if it’s a large tree and requires removal.
There are 3 tell-tale signs an Arborist will look for to determine the health of your tree:

  1. Trunk Damage: As a tree ages, old bark will fall off and grow a new layer. A tree without bark can be an indication of failing health. An Arborist will also look for vertical cracks and damage along the tree trunk.
  2. Fungus: Fungus along the trunk or branches of a tree may indicate internal rot. A rotting tree means it’s either dying or already dead.
  3. Damaged Roots: Some signals an Arborist will look for are small branches popping up from the base of the tree trunk. This is known as epicormic shoots and means the tree is under extreme stress. Another sign of damaged roots can be a tree leaning to one side.



Trees Too Close to the House

At a glance, a big maple tree in the front yard adds character to the property. But if the tree isn’t sturdy, there’s a chance it could come crashing down on your house during a storm. A tree decades old can have hidden problems that the current owner isn’t aware of.

Even if the tree is sturdy and safe, an Arborist can analyze the amount of yearly maintenance will be required.

Here some questions an Arborist can help you answer:

  • Will regular pruning be required?
  • Will you be dealing with an abundance of leaves to clean during the fall?
  • Is the tree close enough to drop branches or debris into your gutter?
  • Does the tree have nuts or fruit you’ll need to take care of?

A tree may not be very close to your house, but if it’s big enough, its branches may pose an issue. Unruly tree branches can fall on your roof or car, crash through windows, or deposit debris around your yard.



Roots Disturbing the House Foundation

A beautiful tree in your yard could be causing a significant threat to the foundation of your home.
Roots grow in search of water and nutrients. Depending on the type of soil surrounding your house, this can cause structural damage to your property.

For instance, if your house sits on compact clay soil, roots pushing their way though can affect the placement of this soil. This can cause your foundation to shift and crack.

Another type of soil that is easily damaged by roots is loose dirt and rock. This material will easily shift and become displaced as roots move through.

ISA Certified Arborists can get a read on the type of soil around your property. They will give you an idea of how roots are affecting your foundation, or how they may cause problems down the road.



Problematic Tree Pests

Perhaps the most annoying tree issue to be aware of is a pest infestation. Depending on the Pacific Northwest area you live in, there are certain tree pests to be aware of. An Arborist will tell you exactly what type of insects to watch out for and whether or not a tree is currently infected.

A pest-infected tree can pose many problems. Some bugs can chew through the wood and bark of your tree, making it unsound and unsafe. Others will eat away at your tree, slowly killing it. If you’re dealing with a serious infestation, it’s possible the bugs have spread to other trees on the property.

Beyond insects and pests, it’s also smart to be aware of other critters than may be living in your trees. From squirrels and raccoons to bees, owls, and other birds.



What If the Tree Inspection Reveals a Problem?

A tree issue on the property doesn’t always mean you shouldn’t purchase the house. But it should play a role in your decision. If the house or property has a severe tree issue, it could cost you hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars. You may be able to negotiate a lower price on the home or have the seller pay for the cost of maintenance.

If you’re looking at a home in the Oregon or Washington area, contact us. We’ll ensure you’re getting the best deal for your money and eliminate unwanted surprises by conducting a pre-purchase home and property tree inspection. Our ISA Certified Arborists are happy to help you.


Category Landscaping, Pests, Roots, Tree

What To Do If A Tree Falls On Your House

Monday, May 15th, 2017

The Pacific Northwest, including the Portland area, is home to some of the biggest and most beautiful trees around! But unfortunately, the area is also prone to severe weather, including heavy winds, ice storms, and months and months of drizzly rain. The combination of extreme weather and large trees can lead to big problems.

In today’s post, we’ll explain what you should do if a tree falls on your Portland home.

Let’s get started.


1. Be Safe & Contact Emergency Services

If a tree falls on your home, your first priority is to protect yourself and your family. Remember that your house can be repaired and your property can be replaced. But the safety and health of your loved ones is priceless.

So if a tree falls on your house, make sure everyone is safe. If anyone needs medical attention, don’t hesitate to call 911. If the tree brought down power lines as it fell, if you see fire or smell smoke, call the fire department right away! You’ll be glad you did.


2. Turn Off The Power & Gas In Your Home

If there’s no immediate danger and you know how to; turn off the power and gas in your home. It’s a precautionary measure that could stop a fire from starting if the tree damaged a gas line as it fell.


3. Call The Electric Company

Many times, when a large tree falls, it damages power lines which can cause an outage in your area. You should call the power company to alert them of any damage to power lines or power outages caused by the downed tree.

For reference here are contact numbers for Portland area utility companies:

You can call and report downed power lines, power outages, and unsafe conditions.


4. Contact Your Home Insurance Agent

Once everyone is safe and the authorities have been notified, call your home insurance agent. They can help you decide what steps to take next and can help you understand what might or might not be covered by your homeowner’s policy.

An insurance assessor will likely come out to your home to inspect the damage before processing your claim. In some cases, you may be able to email pictures of the damage to your insurance agent to speed up the process.


5. Get The Tree Removed & Other Trees Inspected

Next, you’ll need to have the tree removed by a trusted and experienced large tree removal company, like the team here at Northwest Arbor Culture. We’re happy to come out to your home and offer you a free, no-obligation estimate. We can remove large trees and can even grind up and haul away the stump that’s still in the ground.

In most cases, you’ll also want to have other trees on your property inspected as well. The saying “lightning doesn’t strike twice” doesn’t apply to falling trees! Changing soil conditions, tree diseases, and other factors can cause multiple trees to be more likely to fall in your yard. You’ll also want to pay close attention to any trees that might be near your property line and that might fall on your neighbor’s home or yard.

Do not try to remove the tree yourself. Fallen trees are dangerous– especially if they are leaning on your house. Trees can weigh THOUSANDS of pounds and the root ball can act as a counterweight, causing the trunk of the tree to spring back if it is cut free.

For your safety, leave this job to an experienced, certified, licensed, and insured professional.


6. Roof Inspection & Repair

After the tree has been removed, you’ll need to find a trusted local roofing contractor to inspect and repair your roof. Depending on the extent of the damage, a partial roof replacement might be required– and might even be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Even if there isn’t visible roof damage, your roof should still be inspected. There may be damage under the shingles that could lead to roof leaks later on down the road.


7. Home & Foundation Inspection

Finally, you’ll want to have your home and foundation inspected– especially if you see cracks or splits in the foundation. When a tree falls, the extremely large root ball moves as well. This movement can cause damage to the foundation that you might not notice right away. But over time, this can damage the structure of your house or allow moisture and leaks.

A thorough home inspection can identify problems like these and can help you rest a little easier.


Answers To Your Questions

“What If My Neighbor’s Tree Falls On My House?”

Generally speaking, when it comes to insurance, your policy pays for damage to your property, no matter whose tree it was. In other words, if a tree falls on your house, contact your insurance company.


“What If My Tree Falls On My Neighbor’s House?”

It’s likely that you will only be liable if you were negligent about the condition of the tree. You can protect yourself by having the trees on your property inspected, trimmed, and if necessary, removed.


“What If a Tree Falls On A Shared Fence or Property Line?”

The best case scenario is that you get along well with your neighbors and can split the cost of removing the tree and repairing the fence! Both parties involved can contact their insurance companies and let them decide how to handle things.


“How Can I Tell If A Tree Might Fall?”

Dead trees are most at risk for falling. Disease, severe weather, and other factors can also increase the likelihood that a tree will fall. But only the assistance and trained eye of an experienced tree care professional can help you understand whether a tree is likely to come crashing down.


“I’m About To Buy A House. Are The Current Owners Liable For The Trees?”

If you’re thinking about buying a home in the Portland area, please take the time to have the trees inspected before you make the biggest purchase of your life! A pre-purchase tree inspection can save you thousands down the road– not to mention a lot of headaches.


Do You Need Help With A Tree On Your Property?

If you’re worried that a tree on your property might fall and damage your home, contact Northwest Arbor Culture today. We can inspect your trees and offer our expert advice based on decades of experience as Certified Arborists.

We’re here to help you!


Photo Credits: TheTurducken, slgckgc, John Whitlock, Phil Denton, pml2008, Wayne Truong, David Ensor, Stig Andersen

Hummingbirds: A Guide For Oregon Homeowners

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Hummingbirds: A Guide For Oregon Homeowners

Hummingbirds in Oregon

There are tons of amazing animals living in the trees around our area– everything from squirrels to owls. One of my favorites are hummingbirds: they’re colorful, playful, aren’t afraid of people, and can be fun for kids and pets to watch.

Today, we’ll talk about how to attract hummingbirds to your yard, and how to feed and care for them. Plus, you’ll learn a few fun facts about the hummingbirds that call the Portland area home.

What Kind of Hummingbirds Live in Oregon?

There are 8 different kinds of hummingbirds that live in Oregon.

  • Rufous Hummingbird
  • Anna’s Hummingbird
  • Calliope Hummingbird
  • Costa’s Hummingbird
  • Allen’s Hummingbird
  • Broad-tailed Hummingbird
  • Broad-billed Hummingbird
  • Black-chinned Hummingbird

But here in Portland, you’re most likely to see Rufous and the Anna’s hummingbirds.

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

The Anna’s Hummingbird lives in the Pacific Northwest all year round. It’s what is called a resident hummingbird. They have bright shiny green and red feathers that look almost like shiny jewelry. They’re very tiny, about the size of a table tennis ball and they weigh less than a nickel.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

The Rufous Hummingbird is a tough little customer. They’re known for being very aggressive and territorial, sometimes fighting with birds over twice their size. They’re migratory and usually start showing up in Portland in the early summer.

How to Attract Hummingbirds

The cool thing about hummingbirds is that they’re always looking for food. Despite their tiny size, they need to drink as much as twice their body weight in nectar every single day. That’s because their wings beat over 50 times per second and they use up a lot of energy.

Hummingbirds also have great memories and once they find a source of food, they’ll set up shop nearby. And they’ll keep coming back year after year. So once you’ve got a few hummingbirds in your yard, they’ll be there to enjoy for a long time.

What to Plant

Plants to Attract Hummingbird

If you have a garden in your yard, there are flowers and plants you can use to attract hummingbirds:

  • Oregon Grapes
  • Western Bleeding Hearts
  • Columbines
  • Honeysuckle
  • Indian Paintbrush
  • Penstemons

Using a Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbird Feeder

While natural plants are great for attracting hummingbirds to your yard, nothing beats a hummingbird feeder. They’re inexpensive, easy to maintain, and hummingbirds just love them.

How to Choose a Hummingbird Feeder

Look for a feeder with a glass nectar container– not plastic. It’ll just last longer and be easier to clean. Also look for one with an ant guard to keep insects away. Other than that, just look for a design and style you like– the hummingbirds aren’t picky.

How to Make Your Own Nectar

Sugar for Hummingbirds

NEVER put honey or any artificial sweeteners into your hummingbird feeder. And only use white sugar NEVER brown sugar. And NEVER buy any commercial hummingbird food that has artificial coloring added to it. Instead, follow this simple recipe and make your own hummingbird food.


  • 1 part sugar (adjust the amount based on the size of your feeder)
  • 4 parts water


  • Bring to a boil for 2 minutes and stir
  • Let cool and then add the mix to your feeder
  • Store any extra nectar in the refrigerator for up to a week
  • Change the nectar in your feeder every week or when it runs out– whichever comes first

Cleaning Your Hummingbird Feeder

During the rainy months, you might see a bit of mold growing on your feeder. Try to bring it inside and clean it out every week or two. Use small pipe cleaners or Q-tips to get into the small hard to reach spots.

How Many Hummingbird Feeders Do You Need?

Hummingbirds are very feisty and territorial birds. Often a single hummingbird will claim a feeder as his or her own and defend it aggressively. If you have a big yard and see hummingbirds fighting over the feeder, consider getting a second feeder and putting it on the other side of your yard.

That way, more hummingbirds will come to your yard and have plenty of nectar to drink!

Cold Weather & Hummingbird Feeders

Icy Weather

It’s especially important to take special care of your hummingbird feeder during the winter. Hummingbirds sometimes have a tough time finding nectar on plants that die in cold weather and might need your feeder to stay well fed.

Unfortunately, during very cold weather, your feeder might freeze over. The nectar can also separate back into an uneven mix of water and sugar which can make hummingbirds sick. So keep an eye on your feeder.

Here are a few tips for caring for your hummingbird feeder during the winter:

    1. If the weather is really cold, bring your feeder in at night. Don’t forget to put it back out in the morning when hummingbirds are at their most active and hungriest.
    2. If temperatures are below freezing during the day, you can wrap a chemical handwarmer around the feeder to keep it from freezing. It might look silly but your hummingbirds will thank you.

NEVER use more sugar to make a solution that won’t freeze. The extra sugar can make hummingbirds sick.

What To Do If You Find a Sick or Injured Hummingbird

Because hummingbirds are so tiny, they sometimes get hurt. They can even get stuck in a spider’s web. If you find a sick or injured hummingbird, contact the Portland Audubon Society at 503-292-0304. Call them before you pick the bird up or try to move it.

They’re a great resource and can help you decide what to do.

Don’t Touch Hummingbird Nests!


If you’re lucky, a mama hummingbird might decide to put a nest in your yard (probably near your feeder). These nests are very tiny and might look just like a lump on a tree branch or in a bush. But mama hummingbirds need to eat, too. So they head out often to fill up on nectar.

If you see an empty hummingbird nest, don’t assume the mama is gone for good. Odds are she’ll be back soon. So just leave it be and don’t touch it as the nests are very fragile.

Need Help With a Tree in Your Yard?

Oregon Tree Service

As certified arborists, we’ve learned a lot about hummingbirds and other local wildlife over the years. We just love to share what we know. If you have questions about anything you’ve read today or just want us to come out and take a look at a tree in your yard, contact us online or call (503) 538-8733.

Photo Credits:

julian londono via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA
Photo credit: newagecrap via Visual hunt / CC BY
Photo credit: Rick Derevan via Visualhunt / CC BY
Photo via HebiFot via
Photo credit: nordique via / CC BY
Photo credit: Ian Sane via Visual hunt / CC BY
Photo credit: Chris Sorge via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA
Photo credit: chefranden via / CC BY
Photo credit: M. Martin Vicente via / CC BY
Photo credit: Ethan Prater via / CC BY
Photo credit: a2gemma via Visual hunt / CC BY
Photo credit: Mike’s Birds via VisualHunt / CC BY-SA

Category DIY, Tree

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