Unfortunately, when a tree is new, we can’t just stick it in the ground and forget it. Young trees need a little love, but after a while, they’ll be fine on their own. This article will discuss how to keep new trees in tip-top shape for years of growth, health, and beauty.
A new tree is thirsty, but it doesn’t want to drown in water. Keep the root ball of the tree moist, not drenched. The trunk and leaves don’t need water, so it’s not necessary to aim a sprinkler at the entire tree. You don’t want to see standing water around the tree, but the soil should feel a bit soft from moisture.
Every two to three days should suffice for watering your new tree. On average, 10–15 gallons of water a week works well for a young tree. The tree’s leaves give hints as to how much water it needs. Are the leaves looking dry? Then the entire tree is dry, so it’s time to water. Hot weather typically requires more watering than the cooler months.
Mulch (wood chips) looks nice around the base of a tree, and it serves a vital purpose. The mulch helps trap moisture, keeps the tree cool, and protects it from mishaps from mowers and trimmers. Here’s how to properly use mulch around your new tree:
- Place it 4–6 inches away from the tree base.
- Spread to the end of the canopy and further, if possible.
- Keep the depth at 2–4 inches.
- Break up chips if they start to clump together.
Remember, when a tree is young, it has different pruning needs than a mature tree. Young trees are still finding their way and need guidance, while mature trees are established. In the first year, don’t prune too much. The tree has been through enough just from the planting. After a year or two, the young tree needs pruning to shape and control the canopy.
Many tree owners feel like they’re doing the tree a favor by fertilizing, but in the first year and even after, it may cause more harm than good. Consult a professional after the first year if you think fertilizer is necessary.
Staking is helpful in the beginning to “train” a tree to grow in the right direction and protect it from heavy winds. However, failing to remove those stakes after a year or two will damage the tree.
One of the best ways to keep new trees in tip-top shape is to keep an eye on them. Your gut will tell you when the tree doesn’t look right. When that happens, call your arborist for help and advice.
Trees are naturally beautiful and good for the environment. Planting a new tree is always a good idea as long as you follow these guidelines to keep it healthy for your enjoyment and those who will enjoy it for years to come.