How to celebrate Portland Arbor Day this fall

Join Portland Parks & Recreation in planting and caring for urban trees.

A trail cuts through a lush forest of Douglas fir trees and ferns.

Hoyt Arboretum, home to 2,300 species of trees and shrubs, is one of Portland’s best-loved outdoor spaces.

Photo by PDXtoday

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October isn’t just about candy and pumpkin patches. In Portland, it’s also the time to celebrate trees (beyond leaf-peeping) for Arbor Day.

You may be scratching your head and thinking — Arbor Day… in October? National Arbor Day is indeed celebrated every year in April, but in true Portland fashion, the City of Roses branched out and observes the day in October. There’s a reason for this treeson.

A season for success

Portland has celebrated Arbor Day since 1889 — about 300 years after a village in Spain held the world’s first documented arbor plantation festival, and just 17 years after the first American Arbor Day was held in Nebraska.

The City of Portland moved Arbor Day to October several years ago in response to our changing climate. While planting young trees in the spring was once no sweat, today’s hotter, drier summers have made it harder for trees to develop strong root systems and become established. Planting between October and April is recommended.

Some heroes wear leaves

There are 1.2 million trees growing in Portland parks, 220,000 growing along streets, and many — and we mean many — growing on private property. Together, they provide a trunk-load of benefits to the city, from controlling erosion and filtering stormwater to reducing air pollution and mitigating heat islands.

“Science has shown that trees not only cool the environment but also play a substantial role in the larger fight against climate change,” said Portland Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio.

portland arbor day pdx

Urban Forestry is giving away 2,000 trees to Portlanders this fall.

Photo courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation

Spruce up the city

This year, Portland will observe Arbor Day on Saturday, Oct. 14. Portland Parks & Recreation’s Urban Forestry department will host a celebration from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at McCoy Park (North Trenton Street and Newman Avenue). A ceremony to honor the winners of the Bill Naito Community Trees Awards will start at noon.

All ages are invited to stop by to help plant new trees in the park — just be sure to register ahead of time. There will also be food available from local vendors, and free activities like bucket truck rides and face painting. Portlanders can also sign up in advance to take home a free yard tree.

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