How to Give Your Newly Planted Tree a Healthy Start
October 27, 2016
A large tree makes an immediate impact on your landscape today and for many years to come. In fact, the trees you plant now will very likely outlive you. But getting a newly planted tree established, so that it can reach its mature size, takes some extra TLC in the beginning. The care you provide in the first year is crucial to your tree’s health and well-being.
Mulch is your tree’s partner in life
Applying a layer of mulch helps your tree in numerous ways. Use decomposed shredded hardwood, pine needles or shredded leaves, spreading them a couple of inches thick, about two to three feet outward from the base of the tree trunk. Be sure to allow plenty of space around the trunk and keep the root flare exposed. Piling soil or mulch around the trunk can cause rotting and fungal diseases.
Mulching also protects the top soil to help retain moisture where many delicate feeder roots grow. This layer of protection also helps to block light, preventing weed seed germination. When trees are planted in lawns, mulch provides a visual barrier to ensure no damage is caused by the mower.
As material around your tree roots break down, they provide organic matter for the soil, which increases and feeds the microbial life. This healthy environment in the soil creates optimum conditions for healthy plants. Remember that it's necessary to replace these natural materials at least twice a year as they decompose to continue reaping the essential benefits.
Feeding your tree in the first year
Because the new tree will focus its initial energy on expanding and growing it's root system, there is no need to use high-nitrogen fertilizers in the first year after planting. You can expect larger trees with a bigger root ball at planting time to take significantly longer than smaller plantings to establish and grow new leaves and branches. A liquid root stimulator applied at planting and then several times per year can encourage and strengthen far-reaching roots.
Don’t forget to water!
Nothing sends your tree into decline faster than watering issues. Just like all living things, water is most crucial to the long life of your new tree. Consistent, thorough soaks are critical to getting the root system established. Keep in mind that you will need to supplement the water from your sprinkler system at first. Long and slow waterings two to three times a week with a soaker hose are ideal to penetrate deep into the soil below the root ball to encourage the roots into the native soil.
Your home and property are more valuable with healthy plants that reward us with oxygen for all life on earth. Initial care for your new planting means it will shade your home and thrive for a lifetime.
Posted: October 27, 2016