Do you have tips for newly planted trees?



Many trees were planted in Utah this spring. Most trees do a good job taking care of themselves after planting; however, trees still need care and assistance to ensure their quality and health.

Consider these tips when caring for newly planted trees.

* Water trees thoroughly at planting time, then once a week (adjusted for significant rain) through the first growing season. Water more often on sandy soils or during very hot, dry weather. A light sprinkling that only wets the soil surface is not enough. Water must penetrate 6 to 12 inches to reach most of the tree's roots and to encourage deep rooting. If irrigation water is limited this summer due to drought, be sure to give adequate water to your trees or they may decline in health and die. Lawns that die due to lack of water can be replaced fairly quickly; trees cannot.
* Stake newly planted trees that are more than 2 to 4 feet tall if they are at risk of catching wind. Trees should be staked loosely since some bending is needed for the trunk to develop naturally. Anything that wraps around the trunk, such as wires or cords, should be well padded to avoid damage to the tree's bark and outer growing layers. Stakes should be removed after one or two years. If roots are not well established by then, it is likely they will not become established at all.
* Mulch newly planted trees and established trees. This is one of the best ways to ensure a tree's health. A 4-foot or larger circle of wood chips, compost, or other coarse organic mulch 4 inches deep helps control weeds, keeps roots moist, reduces soil compaction, and keeps the mower away from the tree's trunk. If turf is already established around the tree, place the mulch directly on the turf. Any grass that is not shaded out by the mulch can easily be pulled.
* Do not fertilize new trees. Fertilization is not necessary for most trees and should not be done at planting time or for a year or two after planting. If fertilization is to be done, wait until twig growth has returned to a normal rate. This indicates that the tree is no longer suffering from transplanting shock. Use a complete, granular fertilizer spread on the surface under the tree's crown and water it in well. Avoid using weed-and-feed fertilizer-herbicide combinations around trees since they may cause damage to trees.

Follow these steps and keep an eye out for insect and disease problems and your new tree will give you years of enjoyment. For more on tree planting, care and selection see the web site at extension.usu.edu/coop/natres/forests/index.htm.

Posted on 28 Jun 2001

Michael Kuhns
Forestry Specialist

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