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6 Questions to Ask Your Portland Arborist Before Fall

As wonderful as summertime is, it doesn’t last forever. Seasonal transitions bring changes in climate, and your various plants and trees will certainly be affected by the shorter days and cooler temperatures. It’s important for those with gardens and outdoor spaces to start thinking about autumn and to be prepared for whatever comes next.

A certified arborist in Portland, such as Mr. Tree, can be an excellent resource for any questions that you might have about trees and caring for them as fall draws closer. Here are some questions you might want to ask in order to feel informed as you consider different tree services for autumn while enjoying the remaining days of summer.

6 Questions to Ask Your Portland Arborist Before Fall

Is fall a good time to plant new trees?

As with any question, the answer will largely depend on your individual yard conditions and other factors. However, generally speaking, fall is a great time to plant new trees. This might surprise you, since we associate autumn with falling leaves. How is it possible that new growth can happen at the same time? As it turns out, cooler weather offers ideal conditions for stimulating roots to grow in newly planted trees. Warm soil and cool air will work together to establish your tree before the ground freezes, and then after a dormant winter, the warm temperatures and moisture of spring and summer will support new top growth.

Trees planted in the fall are also at a far lower risk of drought or stress from extreme heat. A certified arborist can further help determine the prime location within your yard and recommend specific types of trees based on your conditions and personal preferences.

How often should I be watering my trees?

Once the summer heat is over, it’s still important to think about keeping your trees hydrated. Autumn in Portland can be unexpectedly dry, so it’s good to have a plan in place for those long stretches with no rain in the forecast. Depending on the age of your trees, more watering may be necessary—a newer tree or shrub can require that extra moisture to truly get established, while older trees may do just fine with less frequent watering.

It’s also good to know the best ways to provide water to your trees. Often times, a deep soaking of the roots is the best way, which involves strategically placing a hose in different areas around a tree for certain amounts of time. An arborist can evaluate your trees and their hydration needs to ensure you have the best plan in place for autumn watering.

Should I be fertilizing?

Fertilizing is actually a great way to keep your trees healthy. When applied in autumn, fertilizer helps protect trees from winter damage. In forests and other wild areas, trees don’t have to worry about nutrients due to a natural environment that has evolved over millions of years and allows trees to flourish.

In suburban and urban gardens and yards, however, it’s a very different story. Trees that are planted in man-made environmental conditions face numerous stressors, such as a lack of moisture, physical damage from humans and pets, and construction. Even the necessary maintenance of raking fallen leaves and twigs removes nutrients that would have naturally decomposed and provided the roots with a source of food.

The best way to deal with this is to invest some time and effort into a tree maintenance program that will alleviate the effects of these environmental stressors. Otherwise, there’s a significant risk that your trees will not reach their full landscape potential. They may have a shorter life span and be more susceptible to threats, like insects and disease. Your Portland arborist can help you assess what types of fertilizer and fertilizing methods are best for the trees in your yard.

Should I prune my trees in the fall?

This is a great question to ask your arborist! Typically speaking, it’s considered a good idea not to prune trees in the autumn months, unless there are obvious dead branches that need to be removed in order to prevent potential hazards. Or it may be a small branch or two that’s just driving you crazy, and you want it gone.

But remember that pruning too soon in autumn can stimulate new growth, which will then be stunted by cold weather, leaving your tree with unintended damage. Waiting at least until the leaves have dropped is a good idea because tree wounds will close faster during a more dormant time of year. Ask your Portland arborist for more details because each tree is different.

What’s the best way to apply mulch to my trees?

Maybe you didn’t think you needed mulch for your trees, but keep in mind that it provides an insulating layer for their root systems. Winters in Portland can get quite cold, and a good layer of mulch will offer protection from dropping temperatures. It also helps the surrounding soil retain moisture, thereby keeping the tree roots moist. The benefits of mulching extend into the spring and summer as well, by maintaining cooler soil temperatures when the above air gets hot, as well as preventing the growth of weeds.

The different methods of applying mulch can vary depending on the types of trees you have, their age, and other factors. Remember that there are also different types of mulch to choose from, depending on your specific needs. This is where an arborist can step in and provide some helpful techniques for mulch application and recommendations for varieties of mulch that will benefit your trees to the greatest degree.

What potential hazards am I unaware of?

You may be a very careful and conscientious tree owner, but there are always blind spots when it comes to risks and hazards, especially when they could potentially materialize a few months down the road. A certified Portland arborist with a trained eye will be able to identify any factors with your trees that could lead to damage, destruction, or injury, and then recommend a course of action to ensure the safety of your family and your home. A routine tree inspection is an excellent way to work together with your arborist to identify any structural problems before they get worse. Scheduling one in late summer or early fall will give you plenty of time to address any issues that come up.