Below is a short list of common questions we get from customers. This is in no way a complete explanation of these complicated topics, but a brief overview to get you started on the right path in regard to your tree issues. If your tree question is not answered here please visit our ask the arborist page.

Financial Benefits

What are the financial benefits of trees in our cities?

  • The Financial benefit for every $1 invested in trees in Portland is $3.80. Adding trees to our urban landscapes can save the city money and potentially reduce taxes.
  • A tree in Portland adds an average of $7,020 to a home's sale price. Mature trees that are maintained and in good condition can easily add even more value. At the same time, trees in poor condition can detract from your home's value.
  • A tree planted near your home can reduce heating and cooling costs. Portlanders save $750,000 per year annually in avoided energy consumption due to our street trees alone.

Tree Eco Facts

How do trees in our cities help the environment?

  • The average tree produces 260 pounds of oxygen a year. Two trees on average produce enough oxygen for one person to breath.
  • Our urban tree canopy in Portland intercepts 1.3 billion gallons of storm water a year, preventing urban runoff from polluting our rivers and streams and saving the city $36 million dollars waste processing costs.
  • A mature oak tree hosts 10 to 15 pairs of nesting birds.
  • The average lifespan for an urban tree is only 10 years, where as a tree reaches it's most productive age at 20 years. The key to maintaining a tree in an urban landscape over time is proper maintenance by an ISA certified arborist.

Tree Removal

How do I know when a tree should be removed? It is difficult for an untrained eye to recognize when a tree must go. We suggest you call for one of our free estimates. But also keep in mind tree service estimators are not always independent and might push to remove because they want the increased revenue. It is best to always get the opinion of an independent consulting arborist if you have any doubt about whether or not the tree could survive. Of course, all of our estimators only give their independent opinion about the true condition of the trees they inspect. Trees are removed for a variety of reasons including but not limited to: failing health, poor location, property development, too much maintenance required, improper pruning in the past, pests, threatening assets below, and much much more.

What should I expect when having my tree removed by Urban Forest Pro? The arborists and crew will come within an hour of their scheduled arrival. They will use ISA certified techniques to safely remove your tree. We can leave the wood in 16-18" rounds for firewood or remove it. All the branches and other debris from the removal of the tree will be chipped and taken away. The crew will return at another time to grind the stump if that is being done. Your stump will be ground 12" down and the grindings will be left. Any damages need to be reported to the main office ASAP and we will respond with scheduled repairs within 2 days of your call. See our removal page for more info.

Do I need a permit to remove my tree? Probably yes, most cities in our area have tree removal ordinances and many of these ordinances include trees anywhere on your property. You also, as part of the process, might be required to replant. If you have a commercial property the answer is defiantly YES. We can help with permit acquisition and help you navigate your cites ordinances. Removing a tree without a permit could result in thousands of dollars of fines to the home owner and/or the tree service.

What are my options for replanting my tree? If you are planting a street tree, your city will have to approve the type and size of tree planted, and you will need to get a permit. If you are looking for a tree for your yard, your options are endless. Take a look around you and take note of what you like and dislike about different trees. Armed with that information our arborists can suggest a tree that meets your needs and works in your intended location.



When do I need to get a permit? You need a permit when pruning or removing street trees or when pruning or removing trees on a commercial property. If you are pruning or removing trees in your yard it depends on which city you live in. Our arborist as part of the tree service process will let you know if you need a permit. We can also help you obtain the permit, replant, or prepare a mitigation plan.

What happens if I do not get a permit? You could be subject to fines up to $1,000 per tree or $100 per inch in diameter in Portland even if the arborist never told you, you needed a permit.


How do I know if my trees need to be pruned? Most if not all mature trees in our urban environment need regular pruning to maintain their health. Trees should be pruned every 2-7 years depending on many factors. Our arborist can estimate the last time a tree was pruned and recommend a pruning schedule.

How often do my trees need to be pruned? Most commonly trees should be pruned every 3-4 years but this could be as much as every year if there are special circumstances or as much as 7 years depending on the type of tree.

My trees have been topped or mis-maintenanced can you fix them? No, we can not undo what has already been done. Your tree will never be as beautiful as it would have been, but we can, over a period of years, reverse some of the damage and return you tree to health and viability.


Hiring an Arborist

What should I look for when hiring an arborist? It is important to validate the claims of your arborist. If they say they are licensed, bonded, and insured and have been in business for 10 years verify that by visiting the CCB website. Also verify their International Society of Arboriculture Certification by visiting their website. If you can get a referral from a friend, that is really the best way to find a reliable arborist. If you cannot get a personal referral explore the company's online reputation. The best firms encourage their happy customers to share their feelings online. Beware of not-for-profit websites featuring arborists because these spots are obtained through donations not an excellent reputation.

I got a few bids why do the prices vary so much? It might seem like the prices vary a lot, but usually there is a reason behind the discrepancy. These are the most common reasons:

  • One of the tree services is under insured lowering their overhead and therefore their price. Obtain an insurance certificate from your tree service show they have at least $1M in liability insurance, $10,000 bond, and workmen's comp coverage (if they do not have workmen's comp because they use subcontractors you will need to get the insurance certificates of each subcontractor).
  • An inexperienced arborist has under estimated the amount of work needed to prune the tree. To truly prune a tree correctly it takes a 1,000 small cuts (this takes time), but for an ill-trained arborist or someone who has not updated their skill to current techniques they may make 100 larger cuts and call it good (weakening not strengthening the tree in winter storms). In most cases you are better off holding on to your money until you can afford to have it done right then taking a bargain pruning price..
  • You are not comparing apples to apples. These difference are in the details such as: is the wood being taken away, is the stump being ground out, are they taking precautions to protect my landscaping, if the wood is being left is it being cut up, are they obtaining the permits, does the pruning include cabling should my tree need it, and so on and so forth.

Tree Health

My tree looks sick what can I do? Just like people, trees have the best chance of fighting off disease or recovering from an injury, if they have proper nutrition. The first step, which is something you can do yourself, is to fertilize the tree. The next step is to call an arborist for a consultation. You can call a consulting arborist who does not do the tree work to get an independent opinion about what is going on with the tree for a small fee or call a tree service for a free estimate where you will get recommendations on what should be done and prices for that.

If branches on your tree are dying back you need to act quickly to save your tree. Trees die from the tips of the branches back so dying branches are a serious symptom something is wrong (except when that is typical of the species). To check if a branch is dead when there are no leaves on the tree, look for leaves that dried up but did not fall of the tree and try breaking one of the twigs if it snaps, like the wood is dry, it is a dead branch.

There is construction going on near my trees should I be concerned? Absolutely, if someone is doing construction near your tree talk to the foreman to see what precautions are being taken to protect your tree. The general rule of thumb is that a tree needs a protected barrier of 1' in a radius around the tree for every inch in diameter of the tree at breast height. If you are not satisfied insist that a consulting arborist is called to unsure that the trees are not endangered. A tree can be twice as big underground as they are above so precautions need to be taken.



What tree would be best to plant in my yard? We highly recommend that you call an arborist to help you make a decision about what tree to plant and where. The average life span of a tree in Portland is approx. 10 years. That is often caused by the wrong tree being planted in the wrong location. The increased cost to have the tree purchased and planted through an arborist is minimal, but the rewards are great. If you are going to do your own planting make sure you do your research on the tree species and variety you will be using. You should estimate the future height of the tree at the top of the range because of the favorable growing environment in Oregon. Also take into account the maintenance required to care for the tree. Some trees are higher maintenance then other trees. If you are planting a street tree check with your city for an approved street tree list.

I am planting a tree what should I be concerned about? You will likely need compost to create a 50/50 mix with your own soil around the planting site. Remove any pots or packaging around the tree, biodegradable or not, remove it. Break up the edge of the root ball loosening the root ends from the root ball. Plant the top of the root ball just underneath the soil (1/2" max). Thoroughly water the tree after planting and water regularly during the summer and during dry patches for the first 2 years.

Storm Damage

What is my insurance company responsible for when it comes to my trees? In most cases the insurance company will not cover tree work unless a tree falls on your house or garage. We can work with the insurance company to get the most coverage possible under your policy, which sometimes can include the value of the tree and moneys to re-landscape your yard. Working with a professional company with experience in dealing with insurance companies will have a huge effect on what your insurance company pays for. Do not use companies that knock on your door for work during a storm. Nine times out of ten these companies are inexperienced, unlicensed, and could increase damage to your property. In some cases we have had success in getting insurance companies to cover other tree work, but it depends greatly on who your insurer and claims adjuster is. You do not want to alert your insurance company to a hazard without the help of our arborists because if the insurance company believes you are a risk they could drop you.

Can storm damage be prevented or is it a fact of life? Yes and No, there are things you can do to prevent storm damage. Trees can be pruned so that the wind passes through them, but this is not a guarantee that there will be no damage, it just vastly increases the chances that there wont be. In some cases if you let your insurance company know that you have had your trees pruned they can give you a discount on your policy for taking that precaution.

I have large branches overhanging my house should I be concerned? Yes, but that does not mean you need to take out the tree. We can prune the tree to remove the branches that are threatening the house and we can also cable large braches so that they are far less likely to break. Certain types of trees are more of a risk than others.

Portland city trees

Neighbor's Trees

I hate my neighbor's tree what can I do? Not much. Your best bet is to work with your neighbor to come to a compromise. You could offer to pay half of the costs or get the opinion of an arborist in regard what should be done with the tree. What you should not do is go ahead and prune or remove the tree even if it is on your property. Legal or not (we are not lawyers) this could lead to an expensive legal battle. We can often help neighbors come to a compromise, but as a policy we do not do work where neighbors are in disagreement.

My neighbor's tree is threatening my property what can I do? If your neighbor's tree is truly a threat we still recommend you try and work it out with them. There are in this case, a few things you can do to force their hand. One is bring the tree to the attention of the city by submitting an arborist report on the tree. In certain cases they can order it removed. You can also report the tree to their home owners' insurance company or HOA and that may force them to have it taken care of. But we cannot stress enough, how much better things work out in the end, when you can come to an agreement with your neighbor.

Trimming Tree on Site in Portland Oregon