Young Tree Care Tips For A Healthy Life

Posted on: 12 January 2017

With the coming of spring often comes the planting of new landscape trees. Whether you plant dormant trees in late winter or trees in the flush of growth in spring or early summer, proper care during the first year after planting is key to ensuring they thrive. The following tips can help you successfully plant your new tree.

Tip #1: Don't amend the soil

It's tempting to backfill the planting hole with compost and fertilizer amended soil, but this actually does the tree a disservice. When only a small area of soil surrounding the young root ball is rich in nutrients, then the roots won't extend beyond this area. This results in a small, weak root system. Instead, use the native soil and break it up a bit further than the existing root ball will reach. This will make it easier for the roots to extend and anchor well into the landscape.

Tip #2: Protect from wind wisely

In windy or exposed areas it's common to stake newly planted trees. The key is to stake them properly. The tree needs to be able to move slightly in the wind, as this movement is what tells the tree to send out more anchoring roots. Staking too firmly allows no movement, thus the tree doesn't become as well anchored. A single stake, set about two feet from the trunk, is sufficient. Attach a tree tie just beneath the canopy of the young tree and then anchor it to the stake. This allows movement but prevents the wind from uprooting the tree.

Tip #3: Water to encourage future drought resilience

A newly planted tree isn't very drought resistant. To encourage it to become thus, you need to force the growth of deep water-seeking roots. To do this, simply water the tree at longer intervals but more deeply. After planting the tree, build up a 6-inch soil berm around the trunk, placing it a few feet out. Every couple of weeks, fill the space inside the berm with water. This will seep into the soil, watering the tree deeply so the roots don't simply wait at the soil surface for moisture.

Tip #5: Prune for a strong lifelong form

The first few pruning cuts you make on a new tree will determine how well it grows into maturity. For most young trees, you will want to remove any scraggly twigs on the lower half of the trunk. Then, trim out excess branches in the canopy so that the shape is well balanced. Any branch that connects to the trunk at an angle greater than about 45 degrees is considered weak and breakage prone, so these are also typically pruned out. The best time to prune a young deciduous tree is usually in late winter, before the leaves unfurl, although you can reach out to a professional, such as Show Me Tree Service, for more information. 

For more help with your new tree, contact a tree trimming and maintenance service in your area.