It’s wise to protect young trees to help them establish themselves and flourish. In this post, Frady Tree Care, experts in reliable tree care in Charlotte, NC, list top tips on how to give newly planted trees and shrubs the best possible start.
1. Water Well
When you learn why trees die, you’ll know that lack of water is one of the primary reasons they fail to thrive. You should deeply water your saplings once a week for the first one or two years of their lives. Doing so allows young trees to develop a strong root system.
2. Apply Mulch
Mulching is another useful technique that protects the roots. If you hope to protect young trees, you should apply a layer of organic mulch about two to three inches deep around the tree. Keep it from touching the trunk and extend the circle until it reaches the dripline.
As the tree grows, you’ll need to extend the mulch to the edge of the dripline or at least two to three feet from the trunk.
- Regulates soil temperatures
- Protects the delicate roots from the sun’s heat
- Releases nutrients into the ground
- Helps the soil to retain moisture
- Stifles weeds
3. Use Tree Guards
If you live in an area where there are many mice, deer, or rabbits, you’ll need to use tree guards to protect your tree. If you don’t, these pests may nibble on the bark or eat the new shoots.
When placing the guards, make sure they provide adequate coverage without rubbing or cutting into the bark. You can stop using these measures when the tree establishes itself and new shoots are out of reach of pests.
4. Stake Your Ground
It’s not always necessary to stake trees, but it can be helpful if they’re in an exposed area. If they have to face the onslaught of strong wind, staking stabilizes the tree and helps it withstand the gusts. Attach the stakes securely without damaging the bark, allowing the tree to sway a little.
5. Weed Well
If possible, remove weeds by hand for at least two feet around the trunk. If you use tools, be careful not to damage the tree’s roots. It’s also worthwhile to remove grass in this area to prevent damage from landscaping equipment.
6. Consider Protecting the Bark
If you’re expecting a particularly bad cold spell, it’s a good idea to protect the sapling’s bark. Tie a burlap sack or old blanket around the trunk to give your new tree some protection against the cold.
7. Prune Only When Necessary
You shouldn’t prune heavily in the first two years of life, but you can remove dead branches or those that will cause issues. For example, if your tree has two leading shoots vying for dominance, remove the weaker one.
However, be careful about when you trim the branches. It’s best to do so in late fall when the tree slows down food production. Remove the branch as close to the trunk as possible without removing the collar. If you cut it flush, you inhibit your tree’s ability to heal.
Always remember the rule that you should never remove more than a third of all the branches.
8. Feed Your Tree
Hopefully, you tested the soil before planting your tree to correct mineral imbalances. You should regularly retest as your tree needs many nutrients at this stage of its growth. Add in the minerals it needs and also organic compost to keep it healthy.