How to Maintain a Tree

Mulching 

  • Conserves moisture
  • Reduces turf grass, weed competition
  • Protects from lawnmower, trimmer damage
  • Apply over root system out to drip line (branch tips)
  • Apply 3-4 inch depth, mulch should not touch trunk of tree
  • Bark chips, ground bark, pine needles, compost are best.

Tree Mulching Diagram

Common Mistakes:

  • Mulch too deep - water does not reach root system
  • Volcano mulching (mulch piled up against tree trunk) - traps moisture against trunk, encourages fungal activity,results in decay of wood and insect activity, encourages shallow rooting

Tree mulching mistakes

Watering

  • Single most important task
  • Watering timetable depends on rainfall received
  • Moisture holding capacity of soil
  • Drainage characteristics of site
  • General rule - 1 inch every 7 to 10 days during first growing season
  • Inspect once a week to determine if watering is necessary
  • Inspect more often during hot, dry weather
  • Deep, infrequent watering is best
  • Water slowly and lightly

Common Mistakes:

  • Over watering - suffocates root system
  • Rapid, frequent watering - encourages shallow rooting
  • Hard, fast watering - causes soil compaction, runoff, water does not reach root system
  • Frequent trunk wetting - encourages fungal activity, decay

Fertilization

  • Not recommended at time of planting
  • Research has shown it to be ineffective until tree has re-established its root system

Mycorrhizae

  • Naturally occurring in native forest soils
  • Beneficial fungi that help tree roots absorb water and nutrients
  • Research has shown to have limited benefits
  • May be beneficial in poor quality sub-soil where topsoil, organic layers have been removed

Pruning

  • Limit at planting time to removing broken, crossing, rubbing branches, alleviating structure problem
  • Remove basal sprouts
  • Encourage a central leader
  • Leave lower branches on the tree to stimulate root and trunk diameter growth

Common Mistakes:

  • Do not thin the tree to compensate for root loss
  • Do not raise lower limbs, these will help add girth to trunk and root growth
  • Pruning paints and sealers do not prevent decay or promote rapid closure, not recommended
  • Pruning Flush cutting branch back to trunk is incorrect, it wounds the trunk and causes decay.
  • Make the cut along branch collar.

Staking

  • Only when necessary, bare root, small container, large tree especially conifers, exposed or windy site
  • Attached to tree low on trunk
  • Use soft flexible web belting or other soft, wide, flexible material

Tree Establishment

  • Staking or guying
  • Used to prevent movement of root system-- movement of top of tree is desirable and will strengthen tree
  • Should be checked regularly to prevent girdling and removed after one year
  • Do not drive stake into root ball, anchor firmly outside of planting hole

Common Mistakes:

  • Using wire or thin rope around trunk – will damage, tear bark and girdle trunk if left on too long
  • Staking left on too long – result in weak tree unable to support itself

Trunk Protection

  • Short tubing may be used to protect from string trimmers
  • Trunk wraps are not recommended
  • Recent research shows Temperature differentials are greater at bark with wrap Holds moisture on bark leading to fungal, insect activity

Just the Beginning

  • All trees planted will need care and attention throughout their life span.
  • Future ongoing maintenance should be a part of your tree planting plans.
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