selecting and planting the perfect tree for your site, Im sure you
hope that it grows into a beautiful specimen for generations to
enjoy. To keep your tree thriving and developing into a venerable
part of your landscape, be sure to follow these guidelines.
Punch list for newly
root system and surrounding soil well-watered right up until the
ground freezes. Water when the top several inches of the root ball
are dry. Adequate moisture is a must, especially if we suffer a
cold, windy winter with sparse snow cover.
a newly planted tree is generally not necessary. A tree that can
move in the wind develops a sturdier trunk and root system. However,
you may need to stake a tree with a minimal root ball, including
bare root, that is planted on a windy site. In this case, consult
with an arborist or a nursery that specializes in trees for guidance
on proper staking.
Tree steadied by two metal stakes
only dead, damaged or diseased twigs. Foliage is essential for the
tree to maximize absorption of carbon dioxide, water and sunlight.
The process of photosynthesis converts these substances into
carbohydrates and sugars. Do not apply fertilizer to a newly planted
tree as excessive fertilizer salts can damage the roots.
2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch over the root ball, extending to
the drip line. This is the ground beneath the outermost branches.
Mulch minimizes the chance of injuring tree bark with a lawn mower
or weed trimmer, and it keeps foot traffic off of the root area to
minimize soil compaction.
prevent deer from rubbing young tree bark, employ a bark protector.
A good design is one that is made of rigid, black plastic forming an
open mesh tube. The open design of the mesh prevents moisture and
mildew buildup around the trunk. Be sure the holes in the mesh are
small enough to prevent small rodents from reaching the bark.
Severe whitetail deer damage to a young tree
After the ground freezes
routinely check that the root ball has not heaved during freeze-thaw
cycles. If the root ball has pushed out of the ground, gently push
it back into place to keep the roots from drying out.
routine inspections of your trees to check for insects or disease.
Research which pests or diseases most commonly afflict that species
by searching the Internet. Publications from your county
agricultural extension office are also readily available. An
ISA-certified arborist, a local nursery or your Penn State Extension
office can also provide a diagnosis and suggested treatments. Never
diagnose or treat a tree problem without expert advice.
tree is thriving, there is no need to fertilize. If the tree is
showing signs of nutrient deficiency, obtain a soil test to assure
that your pH is in the appropriate range. Soil tests will also
inform you of deficiencies or excessive amounts of any nutrients.
mulch but make certain the root flare is visible as the tree
Determine how long will it take for the root system of your tree to
establish so that it can support all the components of the tree
above the ground. Heres a good rule of thumb: For each inch of
trunk caliper (measured 6 inches above soil level), it will take one
year for the root system to establish itself. So a tree with a
3-inch caliper will require extra attention for the next three years
before it is considered an established tree.
to remove dead, damaged and diseased wood and begin to train the
tree so that is structurally sound. These techniques will be covered
in a series of pruning guidelines in this column in early 2015.
Caring for an
your tree is established, continue to check it for pests and
deeply during periods of drought.
the all-important root flare.
it from mechanical damage from mowers and trimmers.
compaction of the soil from construction equipment.