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Are we nature's best hope? We may be and that's good news to my ears because with our support nature can be incredibly resilient. Caryn Bosson, a longtime Ojai Trees Board member recently read this lovely book and wrote this heart-felt recommendation and call to action.


There’s hope for dwindling Monarch butterflies, because humans have begun prizing the plant their lives depend on, native milkweed, and planting it in home landscapes. But it’s not only butterflies which have a life-or-death relationship with native plants. Human life depends on them too. Healthy native plant communities, the ones that evolved in place over thousands of years, are at the root of everything we depend on: from fresh water to oxygen to protection, food and shelter.


We are losing our insects and birds, among other species of life, at alarming rates as these native ecosystems are under assault: paved over, built on, and replaced by the ecological dead-zones of lawns. By some estimates, more than half of the country’s lands have been turned into “the urban/suburban matrix” where nature has been chopped into smaller and smaller fragments, becoming vulnerable to invasive species taking over, as well as increased risk of drought and fire.


These are depressing facts, but there’s a message of hope that’s eloquently and practically offered by Douglas Tallamy in his book “Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard” He shows how we can all participate in turning this situation around, and that we can do it where we live, work and recreate.


The good news is that nature is incredibly resilient. We've seen this in Ojai, on Land Conservancy properties that have come back to flowering life through dedicated volunteer labor. But even in tiny yards we can increase the numbers and well-being of birds, insects, and other species who depend on them.


What’s more, Tallamy describes how we can focus on planting the truly vital plant species, the ones which support multiple other life forms, particularly moths and butterflies, as caterpillars are prime food for numerous species of birds. Top choice: oak trees. Besides their benefits in absorbing carbon and recharging groundwater, native oaks support a huge amount of life as compared with other tree species, even other native ones.


Tallamy challenges the idea that nature is somehow “out there.” He offers the vision of a “Homegrown National Park,” planted by all of us: “What if each landowner made it a goal to convert half of his or her lawn to productive native plant communities? Even moderate success could collectively restore some semblance of ecosystem functions to more than twenty million acres of what is now ecological wasteland.” That’s a larger area than a dozen other National Parks, combined, and accessible to every one of us.


To find out more about nature’s best hope, read this book now, then get ready to order more oak trees to plant this fall in your property or at other locations in the Ojai Valley. Visit us at www.ojaitrees.org for more information.


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During this time of global climate change and our continuing drought we at Ojai Trees want to share a message to take care of our trees. The extra care you give them will be paid back ten fold in shade, carbon dioxide sequestration, and water retention.


  • Water your trees. You may have let your grass go but your trees need some of that water we are no longer using on our lawns, even the mature ones. By slow dripping your trees and supplying a two-inch layer of mulch around their canopy you can help them avoid a premature death and ensure many more years of service to you, our community and our wildlife. Find out how to do it easily and correctly on our website www.ojaitrees.org

  • Avoid unnecessary pruning during the heat of summer. Unless you have a broken branch that is creating a danger please leave the trimming to later in the fall or before nesting season in the spring. Your tree needs that foliage to protect it from our ever increasingly hot sun. without the shade their leaves provide they can get sunburn. That sunburn damages and stresses the tree, hampering the nutrient and moisture highway of their bark.

  • If you need to prune never top a tree. Topping, removing or trimming all the top branches of a tree indiscriminately, leads to poor weaker growth in your tree. Topping will lead to bigger problems down the line, including limb failure, and a local certified arborist will never recommend it. Instead a tree’s structure needs to be respected. Nature is the original architect and if it is “the right tree, in the right place” it will need pruning less frequently if it is done correctly.

  • Only hire an experienced company with a certified arborist to do any trimming or maintenance on your trees. They will be familiar with our native trees, our micro-climate here in the valley, and our tree ordinance that is meant to safeguard our trees. If tree work is done by a tree service without an arborist on staff keep in mind it is illegal in Ojai to cut limbs of more than 4” in circumference on any Oak, Sycamore, mature or Heritage Tree without a tree permit ( https://ojai.ca.gov/trees/ ). According to the City website, “The City of Ojai adopted a Tree Ordinance in order to recognize oak, sycamore, heritage, and other mature trees as having significant historical, aesthetic, and ecological importance, and to create favorable conditions for the preservation and propagation of this unique, irreplaceable plant heritage for the benefit of current and future residents of the City.”

As a homeowner we hope you feel a responsibility to care for your trees much like a parent does for a child.You wouldn’t take your child to an unlicensed doctor, please don’t subject your trees to the harm an untrained tree worker can do.


Trees are a large part of what makes Ojai such a livable, walkable community. They are our partners in living with climate change.



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We met, we mulched and we think you should too! Giving your trees, old and new, a thick layer of root-protecting mulch and it will give them the best start going into our warmer weather. If done properly ( at least 2 inches or more in a circle around the tree trunk but not touching it ) it will help retain moisture in the soil when you water and also keep moisture robbing weeds at bay. it only takes a few minutes and your trees will thank you! Not sure how to care for your trees? check out our tree care section at Ojaitrees.org.


Before mulching.

Getting rid of surface weeds.

Applying mulch.


A Happy street tree.



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