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Urban & Community Forestry - Frequently Asked Tree Questions
Click here​ for a pdf of all 21 Frequently Asked Questions.

What is the Urban & Community Forestry Assistance Program?
If you have another Urban and Community Forestry related FAQ you would like to see answered here, send us an e-mail about it.  
What is the Urban & Community Forestry Assistance Program? 

Defining the "Tree Professional"...Types of Tree Professionals
Defining the "Tree Professional"...Types of Tree Professionals 

I can't even identify the trees in my own yard!
Start by purchasing a tree identification book at your local bookstore; there are websites that can help as well.   For native trees, Trees to Know in Oregon is available through your local Oregon State University Extension Office or can be ordered on their website
For native, ornamental, and shade trees, check out OSU´s Landscape Plants page, a website full of information and photographs to help you identify plants. If you live in a state other than Oregon, check with your state´s extension program for similar publications.  

How to properly select trees
Check out OSU Extension´s A Guide to Selecting, Planting, and Caring for a New Tree. There are also plant databases you can use, including Pocket Gardener that you can download to your Palm or PDA.
Fire-Resistant Plants
If you live in the rural/urban interface, the publication Fire-Resistant Plants for Home Landscapes will be of interest to you. 

Where to learn more about tree care
The International Society of Arboriculture is the world´s leading organization devoted to tree care. They publish a 17-title Tree Care Consumer Information Series that will have all kinds of information you can use. ISA´s Pacific Northwest Chapter has a website called Landscape Tree Care 101 where you can learn about a variety of tree care topics including tree pruning, topping, and more. Finally, ODF has a brochure called An Oregon Homeowner´s Guide to Tree Care​. That should be enough information to get you started!

My tree looks sick! What can I do about it?
Check with your county OSU Extension office; a Master Gardener may be able to answer your question for you. There is also a website called Plant Facts Database that has a searchable database of factsheets from Extension services across the country. If you are using pesticides, please use them responsibly. OSU Extension has a publication on Using Pesticides Safely. OSU also has a factsheet on Fertilizing Trees, but remember, if a tree looks sick, giving it fertilizer won´t necessarily help it, and could even make things worse.   If you have a problem that can´t be identified, or if more than one tree is showing the same symptoms, it may be time to call in a professional. You can get a list of Certified Arborists from PNW-ISA´s website, or view a searchable database of all Certified Arborists at the ISA website. Don´t trust just anyone with a chain saw for the health of your valuable landscape assets!

When should I prune my trees? How do I do it?
The best time to prune deciduous (or hardwood) trees is when they are dormant. On some flowering trees you may want to prune right after flowering. Conifers may be pruned any time of year, but pruning during the dormant season may minimize sap and resin flow from cut branches. For a complete guide to pruning, check out the U. S. Forest Service´s How To Prune Trees brochure. 
Again, when the job is too big, it´s time to hire a Certified Arborist. And, if the tree is growing in a tree lawn, that area between the sidewalk and the street, you should check with your city to see what regulations govern pruning in this right-of-way.

How can I protect my trees during a construction project?
Preserving existing trees on a site doesn´t only happen when the bulldozer begins work; it happens in the planning stages. Trees in construction zones must be mapped on the plans before work ever begins, and everyone involved in the process needs to know the preservation guidelines. The publication Protecting Trees From Construction Damage: A Homeowner´s Guide provides some great illustrations and a lot of information that will help you.

Is my tree a hazard?
There are many websites on this subject, but the best one for homeowners is How To Recognize Hazardous Defects in Trees. Again, it may be best to call in a Certified Arborist for a professional opinion.

What if I don't like the way the utility company pruned my tree?
Reliable electric power at the flip of a light switch or press of a remote control and beautiful landscape trees contributing to the livability of our communities are both things that we desire to have in our society. Unfortunately, sometimes trees and power lines don´t coexist well. The ISA brochure on Avoiding Tree and Utility Conflicts is a must-read. 
Ultimately, if the tree in question is the wrong tree in the wrong place, you may want to consider having the tree removed and replant with a more appropriate variety. After you have familiarized yourself with the subject, you might also want to contact your utility´s vegetation management program and ask them if they are pruning to ANSI A300 standards for proper tree care. If they don´t have a vegetation management plan or aren´t pruning to these standards, find out why. Most investor-owned utilities and public utilities aren´t interested in wasting money, and if they aren´t pruning properly, they are wasting money...in this case your money because you´re the ratepayer.

How can I organize my neighbors to plant trees on our street?
Start with your city´s Parks or Public Works Department. They should be able to tell you what your city´s ordinances say about tree planting in the tree lawn, that area between the sidewalk and the street or sometimes right behind the sidewalk. Then check out The Simple Act of Planting A Tree. Planting a tree isn´t really that simple, but this book provides great directions on organizing your friends and neighbors to do something good for your neighborhood.

What, and when, is Arbor Day?
What, and when, is Arbor Day? 

What does it take for my community to become a Tree City USA?
What does it take for my community to become a Tree City USA?