Young trees require more care and attention than the care required for maintaining adult and mature trees. You've set yourself up for success by planting new trees on your property, but your work isn't complete yet, as newly planted trees can take years to become well established. You can take multiple steps to help your trees reach this point of maturity. After planting a new tree, follow these steps for how to care for newly planted trees from our master arborists with SkyFrog Tree Service and help your new trees form a strong foundation for a long and healthy life ahead.
When considering the best ways to help a new tree succeed, make sure the new tree planting was done correctly. Without the required growing conditions, your new tree won't stand a chance at growing successfully. Be sure to plant the tree in the right location of your landscape, lawn, or yard by asking yourself if the tree will have enough room to grow (height and width) and whether the roots might grow under a sidewalk, roadway, or walking path. Other important questions include whether the location receives the tree's required amount of light, whether the tree species are beneficial to the native landscape, and if the tree is at the right depth. If you answer "no" to any of these, be sure to consult a board-certified master arborist for help! Your tree-care tasks will begin once the right tree is in the right place.
Watering newly planted trees is a critical component of helping them develop into strong, established trees. Newly planted trees typically require more frequent watering than already established trees. Water new trees immediately after planting. Be sure to keep the root ball moist but not soaked to where the water remains pooled above the ground. After all, too much water can be just as harmful as not enough water. Irrigate over the root ball and the planting area using an open-ended garden hose or a tree-watering bag, but avoid watering the tree's trunk or leaves. Water every 2–3 days, giving each new tree a minimum of 10–15 gallons of water per week. From there, water more during hot-weather months and less during cold-weather months. One of the best ways to determine whether a tree needs watering is to feel the soil. Dig out a small amount of dirt from the ground under the tree's canopy. If the soil is moist, then no water is needed. But if the soil is bone-dry, then it's time to water. Dry-looking leaves can also help indicate your tree needs watering.
Mulch is just what new, thirsty trees need to retain moisture, control the soil's temperature, and ward off weeds. Mulching trees using wood chips provides a host of benefits to new plants, and it can help provide nutrients to the underlying soil and young roots. Mulch can also help protect the roots of newly planted trees, and it's aesthetically pleasing. When mulching newly planted trees, it's important to keep all wood chips at least 4–6 inches away from the base of the tree's trunk and 2–4 inches deep. Extend the wood chip coverage area to the edge of the canopy, though the further, the better. If the wood chips appear dry or develop a matted texture, then use a potato hoe to break them up. Leaving them in this state can cause them to become repellent to water.
While pruning and tree trimming are wonderful ways to help maintain already established trees, newly planted trees should be pruned as little as possible, if at all. Pruning young trees can slow their establishment and invite tree pests. Allow your tree to grow for at least one full season before considering any tree pruning. New trees need all the energy they can get to help them develop strong root structures. The only exception is tree branches damaged during transportation or the planting process, which can be removed right away.
Additionally, we recommend avoiding fertilizer for newly planted trees. Don't fertilize your tree for the first few years. The roots need time to grow, stretch out, and become established before any help from fertilizer. Instead, consider using organic mulch, which can replace fertilizer as it acts as a slow-release, natural fertilizer. Once your tree is sufficiently established, consult your Gainesville arborist to determine the best course of action for your trees regarding soil amendments and fertilization as well as tree preservation and restoration.
As with anything newly planted, keeping a close eye can help ensure your new tree's success. Be on the lookout for insects, infestations, or tree disease issues. Tree diseases are more common when a tree is stressed, such as when a tree is newly transplanted. Additionally, you should make sure the soil around the tree doesn't settle and the roots don't pop up out of the soil. After the first few years, most trees settle into their new environment and require a bit less maintenance, though ensuring trees have what they need throughout their life cycles is important. Whether you notice something that looks off, run into any issues along the way, or simply want the best in tree care for your property, contact SkyFrog Tree Service. We will help ensure your trees have the best chance possible of living a long, strong, and healthy life.