Tree Selection and Timing

Asked March 24, 2013, 10:25 AM EDT

I have a new addition on my home and would like to plant a bird-attracting tree in a small space—about 10 feet by 15 feet, although the crown of the tree could be above an 8-foot fence eventually and have lots of room. I have been researching winterberry, serviceberry, and hawthorn. I am 60+, don't really enjoy gardening (sorry), and would like a tree that doesn't require much maintenance. But I will pay an expert to have proper care. What should I choose? When should I plant my new tree? I'm ready to fill my new windows with birds to look at and identify. Final note: there is no water spigot nearby. What is the easiest way to water a new tree?

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

It seems like you have been doing your homework! Those are all great tree species to plant for wildlife, although English hawthorn is considered a nuisance tree. Also serviceberry, flowering dogwood, crabapple, and cascara are good fruiting trees for birds. Late fall through early spring is the best time to plant your tree. You might want to hire someone to plant your tree for you to make sure the roots are placed well and it will survive. Newly planted trees require deep weekly watering (~10 gal) during the dry summer season from June through September. One option for watering is to purchase a tree watering bag that you can fill up. It will release the water over a 4 to 6 hour period. These are available at most stores that have gardening or landscape departments.

It might take several years for your tree to provide the fruit and cover needed to attract birds. You might consider bird feeders if you are really eager to attract birds right away, but they are a lot of work. If you choose to feed birds, make sure you use fresh seeds, and clean the feeder once a week with a 10% bleach solution to avoid spreading any avian diseases.

For more assistance, I suggest contacting a master gardener at or the Audubon Society of Portland at