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Tree Care Tips And More

Trees add beauty, shade, tranquility and home value to your property. They are also crucial for saving the earth.

Proper care and maintenance are critical for a healthy, long life. Avoid common mistakes that can weaken or even kill your trees. These include: watering, mulching, pruning and staking. Also, frequent inspection can help prevent pest infestation and disease.


Water is one of the most important elements for a healthy tree. Without enough of it, trees can become stressed, causing them to lose energy and potentially die. It’s especially important to water trees when the weather is dry.

A tree’s water needs vary based on age, species, soil type and weather conditions. However, a general rule is to water a newly planted tree regularly until its roots are established and to water mature trees every week during dry periods.

To properly water your trees, slowly soak the entire root zone using a soaker hose or drip tubing/emitters, avoiding spraying the trunk. It is also helpful to remove grass from the area around a new or recently planted tree and add mulch to this space, 2-3 inches deep. This allows water to penetrate the ground rather than run off, allowing your trees to get all the moisture they need.

Newly planted trees should be watered immediately after planting and throughout their first growing season to help them establish their roots in the new soil. After that, they need regular watering to avoid drought stress.

A good way to test if your trees need water is by simply sticking your finger into the ground next to the trunk. If it feels dry and crunchy, they need to be watered! Watering new trees and transplants often is a bit more time-consuming than watering older trees, but it’s essential to their survival. For a more efficient watering method, use a soaker hose or drip systems and make sure to expand the area you are watering to include all the surrounding grass and hardscape. This will give your trees a much-needed deep soaking that can’t be achieved with lawn sprinklers or wands.


Trees need a variety of nutrients to thrive, and fertilization is an important tool for promoting healthy growth. However, over fertilization can burn roots and damage leaves. It can also lead to the death of young trees, so it’s crucial to follow a good fertilization routine.

Fertilizing young trees in landscape beds is a great way to promote growth and improve their color and appearance. The primary nutrients used in fertilizers are nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. While these nutrients are typically supplied by the soil and decomposing organic matter, they can sometimes be in short supply. A granular fertilizer is typically used to apply the nutrients. It is best to use a slow-release formula around the root zone to minimize the risk of burning the roots and reduce leaching, which occurs when water runs through the soil.

The best time to fertilize a mature tree is in the spring, as new growth is forming at that time. You can usually tell if a tree needs to be fertilized by looking at the amount of new twig growth it has produced in the spring. If there is less than 6 inches of new growth, a fertilizer application is recommended.

To fertilize a young or established tree, you can spread a granular fertilizer on the ground and mulch it in an area about three to 10 feet wide surrounding the base of the trunk. The mulch should be made of natural mulch like wood chips or bark, and it should not touch the trunk. It is best to avoid applying fertilizer if heavy rain is expected or the soil is saturated with rainwater. For older, established trees, you can drill holes in the ground to apply the fertilizer, but this is only recommended if the soil can be easily excavated.


Mulching is one of the most important things that can be done to help a newly planted tree get established. It conserves soil moisture, improves the health and structure of the soil, reduces weeds, and adds organic material. Mulching also helps to protect roots from sunlight and temperature extremes.

If you have ever walked through a forest, you’ll notice that the ground is covered with organic material, such as leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and rotting wood. This natural mulch shades and cools the soil, adds valuable organic matter, prevents weed growth, and promotes earthworm activity which helps with soil health. It also helps to keep grass and other plants from competing with the tree’s root system for nutrients and water.

Over time, organic material decomposes to produce a rich soil amendment. This is why we recommend using a good quality, organic, triple-shred mulch around new trees. However, mulch can be problematic if it becomes too dense and matted over time. If this occurs, it can cause a condition known as “girdling root syndrome,” in which the roots of a tree are girdled by the excessive mulch material.

A good rule of thumb is to not pile more than 6-12 inches of mulch over the base of a tree. If you do this, you should mulch wider than the root ball and spread it evenly. This will help to encourage root development away from the trunk and avoid girdling root syndrome. We recommend avoiding piles of mulch near the stems of perennials, shrubs and soft-stemmed fruit trees, too. Mulch that is too close to these plants can contribute to their problems as well, especially when it contains weed seeds or is not aged properly.


Trees and shrubs need human help to maintain their beautiful and healthy appearance in our urban environment. Pruning allows these plants to grow properly and exhibit their most desirable attributes. It improves the flow of traffic near sidewalks, streets and driveways by removing runaway branches that may interfere with pedestrian or vehicular movement. It can also improve light penetration to lawns and other landscaping features below the trees.

Tree pruning reduces disease risk by removing dead and damaged branches. It also helps keep trees and shrubs healthy by allowing them to devote more of their resources to growing new, healthy growth rather than trying to support dying or dead branches.

Proper pruning can prevent accidents and property damage by removing dead limbs that could fall during heavy rain or windy weather. In addition, it can eliminate the danger of trees growing too close to buildings, power lines and other structures.

A well-timed pruning schedule can increase fruit production on some types of trees and shrubs by reducing competition from competing branches or suckers. It can also encourage the development of spurs on certain trees by removing old, rotted or diseased branches that are not producing any fruit.

It is important to remember that any type of pruning carries with it some degree of risk. Large, established shade and ornamental trees should only be pruned by qualified, licensed arborists or tree care professionals who have the proper equipment and training to work safely in these areas. It is also extremely important to never climb a tree or use a ladder in the presence of overhead power lines. It is best to leave any trimming tasks involving heights and/or power lines to professionals.


Trees that are not properly staked can be vulnerable to wind damage and a lack of stability in the soil. Staking is critical for young fruit trees and dwarf bare-root trees, especially. The primary reason is to prevent a strong windstorm from knocking the tree over or uprooting it. The secondary reason is to ensure that the roots penetrate deep into the ground to anchor the tree.

Many people believe that staking is necessary to help a newly planted sapling stand up straight, but this is often false. It may be necessary to stake certain tree types, such as eucalyptus or acacia, but it is not usually required for most other plants. In fact, staking may do more harm than good. Stakes and ties that are too long or tight restrict the movement of the trunk and girdle the tree, reducing its caliper and making it more susceptible to wind damage.

Staking should only be used when the situation warrants it and if it is, it should be done properly. Using flat staking straps rather than coarse ropes helps to distribute pressure evenly, avoiding the potential for damage to the cambium of the trunk and preventing girdling. The straps should also be loosened periodically to allow for some natural movement of the trunk, encouraging root growth and improving tree health.

In addition, staking should only be left on the tree for six months or a year at most to avoid damage from the stakes and the ties becoming embedded in the bark. This will require that you inspect the staking system regularly to ensure it isn’t being damaged by weather or lawn equipment. It is always best to consult with an arborist before deciding whether or not to stake a particular tree.