Once your tree is safely planted, what is the proper care to ensure success?
- Water Your Tree: Until your tree is thoroughly established (typically one to two years), water it once or twice a week. You want your tree to form deep roots to help it resist drought and wind, so a long slow trickle of water is more effective than a quick spritz. Don’t forget to let the ground dry out between waterings.
- Pruning: Trees should be pruned after planting to remove broken, damaged, diseased or dead branches. Prune also to develop a good branch structure once the tree has become established in its new home, usually 1-3 years after planting. Never remove more than 25 percent of total foliage in one year.
- Eliminate Dangers: Keep lawn mowers and string trimmers away from tree to avoid wounding the trunk. Reduce herbicide use near tree and in surrounding lawn.
- Fertilization: Never fertilize stressed trees. Fertilizer is not tree food. It should be applied only after first year – and only if absolutely necessary. When used, fertilizer should be applied at the perimeter edge of the planting site. Also, do not plant flowers under the tree.
- Stability: Consider staking and/or protecting the trunk of the tree if there is a real potential for wind damage or lawn mower injury. Remove the guy wires (string, rope, wire or other used with supports) when the staking is no longer needed or the tree could be injured or even killed from girdling by the wire.
- Mulching: Organic mulches can be used to conserve moisture, regulate soil temperature, discourage weed and vegetation growth, and replenish vital nutrients. Routine mulching will also improve root growth and contribute to the overall health of the tree.
To help ensure your tree stays healthy and happy, consider starting an annual tree inspection program while the tree is young to head off problems early.
Need help evaluating the health of your tree? Contact an arborist or a tree care professional.