How to Care for New Trees

Planting trees on your property has several benefits. Trees provide much-needed summer shade, filter polluted air and increase curb appeal. Everyone should plant trees.

Once full-grown, trees are pretty easy to care for: another benefit! Trees are hardy and tend to continue growing even with minimal care. However, if you want to see your trees reach their potential, they need a little more effort.

Lack of care for young trees can lead to rotting, disease, under watering or pest issues.

Fortunately, caring for trees isn’t all that complicated, but you will want some tips to do it right. Research the new trees you plant in order to know what they need. Then care for them and watch them flourish.

Below, we’ll outline the five best practices on how to plant a new tree and seeing it thrive. You likely are familiar with the basics, so we’ll dive a little deeper and detail how to perform each step.

Tree Care Tips for New Trees

These five tips will not only keep trees alive, they’ll help them grow faster, resist extreme gusts of wind, fight off diseases and pests and create more leaves, flowers or fruit.

Water Your Tree

New trees need more water than older ones. The trees you plant on your land are no exception.

The root of the tree and the soil around it need be kept moist, but don’t let it get soaked, as this can cause some of the roots to rot.

The rule of thumb is 4-10 gallons of water each week. This includes rain water, and although it’s difficult to have an exact reading, a rain gauge can help get you close enough to add the remaining gallons. Your trees will need this much water for the initial 2-3 growing seasons.

Mulch Around Your Trees

Mulch is much more than an attractive lawn care product. It also helps protect new trees, especially the roots. But laying mulch incorrectly can lead to rotting and decay – so much so, that it’s possible that the new tree will not survive.

Place mulch exactly 3 inches away from the tree trunk and spread it out to completely cover the ground underneath the longest horizontal limb. For brand new trees, this won’t be very far, but as the tree continues to grow, your mulch area will also grow substantially.

Keep the mulch 2 to 4 inches thick in all areas around the tree. Be vigilant in keeping it spread out consistently and away from the tree trunk so it does not stop air flow around the tree trunk.

Fertilize Around Your Tree

Fertilizer provides several nutrients that your land’s soil may not have naturally. Most new trees benefit from fertilizing, but you need to use the right products and do it at the correct time in order for fertilizer to be most beneficial.

The ideal time to fertilize is during early spring. Sometimes early summer provides the right conditions (mild temperatures and wet soil), but don’t count on it.

If you are uncertain about which fertilizer to use, consult a tree care professional for advice. Slow-release fertilizers are typically a good idea because they feed trees over time rather than all right away.

Follow through with these tasks in the first few growing seasons after planting a tree, and then review your watering, mulching and fertilizing needs as the tree grows larger. As seasons go on, there will be additional tree care tasks that are more important for young trees.

Prune Your Tree

Tree trimming is very important – yet very tricky – in the early years after planting a new tree. As the tree grows bigger, you will start to see a lot of small branches take off, trying to become the trunk of the tree. While you may think this means that the tree is healthy and growing well, it can actually result in a weak tree as time goes on.

Early pruning helps to shape the tree into what it will look like when it becomes much larger. As little limbs emerge on the lower trunk, they must be cut off so they don’t pull water and nutrients from the upper branches.

As long as there are trees on your land, they need to be pruned regularly. When the trees get too large for you to prune them safely, you can trust KY Tree Trimming to do it for you.

Monitor Your Tree

New trees are at the highest risk for damage, disease and pest issues. But you’re never completely safe from these issues. As your tree gets older, monitor it carefully for signs of disease or poor nutrition, including the following:

  • Leaf color change out of season, with leaves turning yellow or brown
  • Early leaf drop, regardless of whether leaves appear healthy or sick
  • Wilting, even with proper watering
  • Individual branches dying
  • Peeling bark

These signs likely mean a health problem. It is probably going to require professional maintenance if your hope is to save the tree. A certified arborist can usually diagnose the problem by just looking at the tree, although they will perform testing if deemed necessary.

If you catch the problem early enough, you will likely be able to save the tree. Being proactive is the best way to protect your growing trees.

The steps above are basic yet effective. Don’t underestimate the value of the basics! When your new trees have pruning, fertilizer and more,, combined with sunshine and barring severe, damaging weather, the chances are in your favor that the tree will survive and will look beautiful!

Of course, you may already have a full schedule and don’t really want to perform these additional tasks. In some cases, property owners don’t have the ability to give their new trees the appropriate maintenance.

Whatever the situation, it’s ok to seek the help of a tree company for the care of new trees. A certified arborist in Kentucky can advise you about the course of maintenance for each type of tree you plant. Arborists love sharing their expertise and skills with homeowners planting new trees, and can make the difference between trees that struggle and trees thriving.

Call KY Tree Trimming now for information on routine tree maintenance in Kentucky – including tree pruning – for new trees and older trees. An arborists will determine the best plan for your trees! Locate your city in our service area here.