Tree lovers invited to free webinars to learn proper tree-care

While spring may not be the best time to plant shade trees, many people are inspired to plant trees as part of Earth Day and Arbor Day celebrations. Millions of trees are planted every year in America and many of them perish after planting, according to James Downer, University of California Cooperative Extension horticulture and plant pathology advisor. 

“Tree planting campaigns, while well intentioned, may not consider all the realities of bringing young trees into landscapes and caring for them over decades,” Downer said. “Increasingly, city budgets for tree care are being cut back and planting budgets are non-existent in many cities. Tree planting is left to volunteer groups, homeowners, schools and other organizations that may want trees in their communities.” 

Planting is just the first step in trees' lives and can also be the reason for their demise if they are not planted correctly. Trees that survive initially may perish later in their young lives due to poor maintenance or exotic pests or from drought.

To teach members of the public how to select and care for trees, Downer will host a series of free webinars. The five one-hour sessions will cover tree selection, where and how to plant a tree, how to prune trees, how to feed and water them, and pest management. Downer, who is based in Ventura County, welcomes all tree enthusiasts.

When: Thursdays beginning April 22, 2021

Time: 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Registration and details at


April 22: Selection of Trees (benefits of trees)

April 29: Planting Trees

May 6: Pruning Trees

May 13: Caring for Trees (mulch, water, fertilizer)

May 20: Managing tree pests and diseases 

“Establishing trees starts with tree selection—planting the right tree in the right place,” Downer said. “As trees grow and begin to fill their space in gardens, landscapes, parks or city streets they begin to require other kinds of care.” 

Downer, who holds a Ph.D. in plant pathology from UC Riverside, has 35 years of experience in horticulture and plant pathology. His research focuses on diseases of shade trees and other landscape plants and cultural practices to maintain landscape plants, especially trees. He also studies the use of mulch, soil microbiology and disease suppression in mulched soils.


By Pamela Kan-Rice
Author - Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach