Keeping Trees Safe In Hot Weather

Photo: Ford, Brad

As the temperature soars and the city braces for another heat wave, it is crucial for our community to come together and ensure the well-being of the beloved trees. Trees are not only a vital part of Portland's aesthetic charm but also play a critical role in combating climate change and providing essential shade and habitat. Trees are an investment with long-term benefits, and maintenance and ongoing care will ensure their longevity. Portland Parks & Recreation’s Urban Forestry team is pleased to provide information on how to care for trees during scorching hot days.

1. Hydration is Key: Just like humans, trees need water to survive the summer heat. During extended periods of high temperatures, it's important to water trees adequately. Provide a deep, slow watering at the base of the tree to ensure moisture reaches the roots. Water in the early morning or late evening to minimize evaporation. For younger trees, consider using a 5-gallon bucket with several holes drilled in the side at the bottom of the bucket. Fill the bucket and let the water trickle into the soil. Fill the bucket three to four times to supply 15-20 gallons of water per tree.

2. Mulching Matters: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of trees can greatly benefit them during hot weather. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and regulates soil temperature. Make sure the mulch is spread evenly but keep it three inches away from the tree trunk.

3. Pruning Wisely: During heat waves, avoid pruning as it can stress the tree further.

4. Shielding from the Sun: Young or newly planted trees might need additional protection from the sun’s intense heat. Use a shade cloth or burlap to create a temporary shade structure that reduces sun exposure. Remove the shade structure once the temperature drops.

5. Watch for Signs of Stress: Heat stress in trees can appear in ways such as wilting, yellowing leaves, or premature leaf drop. If you notice these signs, take action immediately by providing extra water and care.

6. Know Your Trees: Different tree species have varying tolerance levels to heat and drought. Understanding the specific needs of the trees in your area can help you tailor an effective care routine. Even drought tolerant trees need water in their first three to four summers.

By taking these simple yet effective steps, we can ensure the health and longevity of the urban forest even in the face of extreme weather conditions. For a comprehensive guide on tree care throughout the year, visit

Source: Portland Parks

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