Urban environments can be stressful places for trees to grow. So newly planted trees need special care to help them be healthy and grow to maturity. Mulching and watering trees is an easy way to care for your trees.
Prune your tree
Trees should be pruned when they are young, so they grow strong branch attachments and good structure, which reduces the damage a tree experiences during storms. Proper pruning techniques speed up the time a pruning wound heals and decreases the formation of rot in a tree. Consider hiring a trained tree care professional to prune your trees.
Protect your trees
Taking proactive measures in late fall can help young, yard trees survive winter weather conditions and hungry wildlife. Wildlife such as deer, rodents, and rabbits are browsers who eat trees and shrubs as a regular part of their diet. In winter, tree bark might be the easiest food available for them. Minimize this risk by inspecting your yard and removing potential nesting habitat, such as tall grasses, brush piles, tarps or water bags directly around your trees.
Tree wrap or fencing prevents animals from making a snack out of the bark on your trees. Bury fencing two to three inches below ground and extend it about two feet above the anticipated snow line to create a more critter-proof barrier. A variety of wire fencing, hardware cloth or poultry netting are effective. Periodically check fenced areas to ensure wildlife is not trapped inside. For smaller trees, you can also use plastic tree guards that go right around the tree, offering protection against wildlife and sunscald. Sunscald occurs when the sun heats up the trunk during the day, followed by quick freezing at night, leading to cracking bark. Be sure to remove the tree guards in late spring.
Mulch your tree
Mulch that covers a tree's roots provides numerous benefits. It keeps the roots cool and moist in the summer. It protects tree roots from freezing in the winter. Mulch adds nutrients and organic matter to the soil, and reduces competition with weeds. Mulch also keeps weed whips and lawnmowers away from a tree's trunk.
How to Mulch a Tree video with audio narration.
Water your trees
Newly planted trees
Newly planted trees need 15-25 gallons of water once a week for the first 3 to 5 years when the ground is thawed. You can skip watering if it has rained more than 1 inch in a week. Weekly watering sounds expensive but costs less than a cup of coffee.
How to Water a Tree video with audio narration
During drought, water mature trees once a week preferably in the early morning or in the late evening to conserve water. Use a soaker hose to slowly drip water onto the ground under the entire canopy of the tree (from the trunk to the edge). Water long enough so water soaks 6 inches into the soil – this could take a few hours.