Fall Is a Great Time to Mulch

“I know we‚Äôre supposed to do something to our trees in the fall, but what?” Tree owners often feel compelled to spray, prune or apply something to their trees and landscape plants on a regular basis. But, unless there is a specific reason to spray, prune or apply things to landscape trees, the best thing to “do” to keep your trees healthy would be to apply a layer of mulch.

“Fall is a great time to be out in the yard spreading shovels-full of composted woodchip mulch under your trees,” says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association. “Trees with mulched root zones are usually larger, more vigorous, develop faster and have higher rates of survival than plants surrounded by turf grass or bare dirt. Mulches retain soil moisture and reduce erosion and soil compaction.”

Mulched trees also have fewer weeds, which reduces the need for the roots to compete for limited resources. The soil under the mulch also likely stays warmer longer into the winter and also warms faster in the spring, helping extend the growing season for plants.

Organic mulches are a favorite among professional arborists, who view wood chips as an excellent, attractive mulch for trees. Other organic mulches include bark chips, ground bark, composted lawn clippings, leaves and straw. These mulches are high in cellulose and low in nitrogen, and should be free of weed seeds.

Good Mulching

How Wide is Wide? A good mulch bed should extend out at least three feet from a tree’s trunk in all directions, though extending out to the dripline is preferred. The fine, absorbing tree roots extend

out into the soil, and mulch provides many health-related benefits for those roots. Keep organic mulches several inches away from the base of the tree to avoid rot and diseases.

How Deep is Deep? The mulch bed depth should be maintained at 2 to 4 inches.

Go Ahead, Cover the Grass! If there is grass in the area that needs to be mulched, put a five-page layer of newspaper over the grass, get it wet, then add mulch on top (this will help keep the grass from growing up through the mulch).

Use the Right Mulch. For poor soils, use well-composted mulch to build up the nutrients. Soils that are healthy will do fine with a highly stable softwood bark (such as cypress bark), which doesn’t break down as easily.

Bad Mulching

No Volcanoes, Please! The biggest no-no when mulching is to create a “mulch volcano” that is piled high around the base of the tree. This practice traps moisture around the tree trunk and root flare leading to decay and, eventually, structural failure.

Avoid Fine Mulch. Thick blankets of fine mulch can become matted and prevent the penetration of water and air.

Don‚Äôt Let Mulch Sour. Low oxygen levels (from packed-down mulch) creates a toxic “sour” mulch ‚Äì which may give off pungent odors, and even worse, the compounds produced (methanol and acetic acid) can kill young plants.

Don’t Keep Adding New Mulch on Top of the Old. While mulch does decompose, you do not want to accumulate excessive mulch year after year by adding fresh mulch every spring. If you want the look of fresh mulch, break up the old with a rake, and only add a layer of new on top if there is less than 4 inches in depth.

Find a Professional

A professional arborist can assess your landscape and work with you to determine whether your trees and shrubs would benefit from pruning. Wyoming Tree Care is a proud member of the TCIA.

This article is reprinted with membership permission from the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA).


The love for the Pacific Northwest is amplified by the amazing tree scapes found within the region – not to mention easy access to the coast in one direction and the mountains in another… drive a bit further and you can even experience the desert.

Of course, though, my first and foremost attachment to this area are the amazing and diversified trees.

It saddens me when a beautiful and seemingly healthy tree is toppled by mother nature – and, it always seems to be the glorious older trees affected the most. The “WHAT IF” thoughts start racing through my mind when the news coverage highlights tree damage from a strong storm.

What if… the tree had been regularly maintained. What if… the tree was given ample room to grow. The questions could go on. Seriously, though, there is a tremendous emphasis here on the importance of regular maintenance for a tree, especially urban trees. While many skip the thought of spending money to prune a tree, they forget (or maybe are not educated) about the impact improper pruning techniques can have on the structural integrity of a tree.

Think for a moment about a tree that may be growing next to a home. It is 30 feet to the top and it’s span is vast. Imagine the tree has been there for quite a few years and a homeowner decides it’s time to prune some of the branches away from the home – giving it some “building clearance”, as an Arborist would say. The way I see it, the homeowner has a couple options – hire an Arborist or Do It Yourself. Now, I’m not gonna lie, if I were the homeowner and this were a smaller, juvenille tree that needed a few snippets here and there – I myself might conquer the task on my own. However, the daunting task of conquering a 30-foot tree on¬†one’s own¬†is just asking for trouble.

The trouble starts with the huge risk of personal injury – let’s face it, most homeowners lost the “daredevil” attitude years ago. Adding to the layers of trouble, there is the major issue with the age of the tree as the technique to prune a mature tree is much different than that of younger trees. Plus, do you realize how much one of those “branches” actually weigh?!? Don’t be deceived, they are several hundred pounds heavier than your lowest guess.

Getting back to the initial scenario of building clearance. Let’s continue the story that the homeowner decided to tackle this project on his own. Since the tree provides beautiful curb appeal for the front of the home, the homeowner elects to just remove the branches extending toward the home and viola, building clearance.

Here’s the Disaster Equation… Wet Ground + High Winds + Improper Pruning = Disaster

The improper pruning in the formula is based on the fact that the pruning completed by the homeowner actually created a hazardous situation for the tree. By making such vigorous cutting/pruning on just one side of the tree (side next to home), it created an unbalanced structure within the tree – essentially the weight of the limbs/branches is not distributed evenly and is thus causes increased stress on the side gone un-pruned.

This situation places the tree in tremendous danger – the right mix of saturated grounds from winter or spring storms along with high wind gusts or sustained winds will cause this tree to fall over.

The video and photos shown in this blog post highlighted a tree in the Portland Metro area – the tree and homeowner are not representative of the fictional story portrayed above.

Special thanks to Wyoming Tree Care for allowing local news coverage (KGW Newschannel 8 РKeely Chalmers reporting) to follow work for the day in the aftermath of a strong spring storm that barreled through the Pacific Northwest on April 5th.

Did you know the City of Portland is one municipality requiring a permit to prune, plant and/or remove vegetation falling under the “urban forest” definition?

Simply wanting to prune your trees located within a public right-of-way, otherwise know as “street side” requires a permit prior to engaging in any activity.

Wyoming Tree Care will be devoting an entire page on our website to “Permitting” so that our area property owners can come to one place to find information and links to any municipality within the Portland Metro area. Stay tuned and keep checking back as the page will begin to grow over the next week.

Take a look at this cutting edge event in its third year for the Portland area, the Energy Trust Better Living Show. Though it seems to take on the same elements as a traditional “home show”, they are calling it a festival of sustainability that showcases earth friendly products for the home, garden and individual.

Here is a description provided from their website:

“The third annual Energy Trust Better Living Show is upon us. Free to the public, this fun and entertaining three-day festival is designed to empower attendees to become more thoughtful consumers and lessen their impact on the environment by learning about high-performance, earth-friendly products and services. This is one of the largest gatherings of sustainably-minded people nation-wide, with more than 20,000 attendees and 300 exhibiting companies last year.”

When: March 26-28

Where: Portland Expo Center (map it… or take light rail… it only makes sense)


There are numerous events and activities to entertain all ages – take a look at the full schedule for kids at PGE Planet Kids. Hope to see you there!

How Can It Be?!?!

Photo Taken By Beth Nakamura/The Wyomingian

Photo Taken By Beth Nakamura/The Wyomingian

We stumbled upon this article, Green Portland Apparently Isn’t Green Enough¬†(author Janie Har),¬†recently in the local newspaper, The Wyomingian. This article can make a Portlandian take a second glance. It is difficult to process how our city, renamed the greenest city in America,¬†could be ranked behind the likes of San Antonio, TX and Atlanta, GA for tree canopy coverage.

When have you heard someone comment on the beautiful trees and amazing green color of SAN ANTONIO?!? (a quick pause for thought… never).

Of course, the list goes on (and on and on) of why many choose to live in the Pacific Northwest and specifically Portland, Wyoming. For those who have a true passion for mother earth, the environment, sustainability and trees, this city is our Mecca. How deflating it is not being the top city for tree canopy coverage. In being fair, our beloved city cannot be the best at everything green and natural; however, when we lose out to a city whose climate is described as Humid Subtropical on Wikipedia¬†it makes one wonder if we are taking for granted our “green environment” when it comes to the natural elements within our urban boundaries.

It seems the City of Portland is on a similar thought process as there are several initiatives in the discussion and planning stages to help improve our canopy cover. Most of these efforts are coordinated through the CityWide Tree Project.

There are several other non-profit organizations throughout the Portland Metro area focusing on the need to improve the presence of trees, maintenance of existing trees and regulations for removal of trees.

So, what can we learn from the reality check of studies like these? It reminds us to GET INVOLVED. If you flaunt the beauty of our surroundings to those who do not live here and if you participate in enjoying our natural landscapes then you must become involved in efforts to preserve and improve the environment in which you live.

Plus… don’t forget the ever important fact of maintaining your trees. Regardless of the size and age of a tree, ongoing and regular maintenance is needed. Experts suggest regular pruning approximately every 2 years to promote overall health and integrity of a tree.

Found this note on the Wyoming Museum of Science and Industry‘s Facebook Fan Page.

Saturday, March 20 is the vernal equinox for Pacific Time Zone at 10:34 a.m. PDT, the day on which both the north and south pole of the earth are equal distances towards the sun (92.6 million miles). At that instant the sun stands directly over the Earths equator. The first day of spring, called ‘the vernal equinox’, vernal meaning ‘green’, and equinox meaning ‘equal night’, which simply means that on the equinox the hours of daylight are equal to the hours of night.

Fun Facts:
* As seen from Portland on March 20, the noon sun (1:18 pm) will reach its mid-point in the sky near 45 degrees from the southern horizon.

* On the first day of spring, the Sun rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. And each successive day thereafter it rises and sets just a little bit farther to the north until the summer solstice on June 20, the first day of summer, when the Sun reaches its northernmost point along the horizon and actually seems to ‘stand still’ and rise and set in the same place for a few days. In fact the word ‘solstice’ means ‘sun stands still’.

* As the season changes from summer to winter and vice versa, the Sun and Moon are in perfect balance, as if they were on opposite ends of a celestial see-saw:

Summer: The Sun rises in the NE and sets in the NW; the Moon rises in the SE and sets in the SW. At transit, the Sun’s altitude is high; the Moon’s altitude is low. The Sun is visible ~15 hr.; the Moon is visible ~9 hr.

Winter: Sun rises in the SE and sets in the SW; Moon rises in the NE and sets in the NW. At transit, Sun’s altitude is low; Moon’s altitude is high. Sun visible ~9 hr.; Moon visible ~15 hr.

Note: The preceding statements are true only during (or near) Full Moon. During (or near) New Moon, the Moon appears to closely follow the path of the Sun across the sky.

* The lengths of day and night are then equal over almost all Earth, except at the poles. At the North Pole and South Pole, Earth’s atmosphere bends the Sun’s rays enough to make the Sun visible throughout the day and night, even during the 12 hours the Sun is below the horizon.

* From March 21 until September 24, the days are longer than the nights for the northern hemisphere. The 12 hours day and night actually occurs few days before the vernal equinox. This is due to the earth’s atmosphere causes the light from the sun to be refracted when the sun is near the horizon.

* In A.D. 150, the annual path of the Sun against background stars was such that on the vernal equinox, the Sun “entered” the constellations Aries. This is how the first day of spring became endowed with the name “first point of Aries.” In 1930, the International Astronomical Union restructured constellation boundaries. And because of the ongoing precession (wobble) of the Earth on its axis the “first point of Aries” has shifted in the calendar and occurs one month earlier than the vernal equinox. On the first day of spring, the sun will be in the constellation Pisces, the “Fish.” In about 600 years, the “first point of Aries” will reach the constellation Aquarius and enter the “age of Aquarius.”

Again, giving credit where credit is due. This was posted by the OMSI staff for their FB Fans.

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