How to Care for Young Trees
By Luke Fay
If you have planted new trees on your property and you plan to grow them over the coming years, you need to invest in the right care for them. That is the only way to ensure that a tree survey doesn't reveal unpleasant signs later on.
The first 3-5 years are crucial for the health of the tree. With the proper tree care, you can up the chance of growing a healthy specimen. This in turn means reduced maintenance costs and minimizes the potential issues that may develop. Make sure you follow the instructions below:
Watering - one of the most important aspects to looking after young trees is proper watering. Young trees can do with regular watering in order to fight off diseases. It is important to deep water them frequently in order to prevent surface roots. You can use the indication of soil moisture on how often to water. When the soil 4-6 inches below the surface of a tree feels moist (not wet), you should water. Be alert for drought symptoms, such as wilted, yellow/brown leaf edges. Mulch can greatly help with moisture retention in the soil. A 3-5 inch thick layer of mulch does wonders in that regard.
Don't rely on lawn irrigation, since light sprinkling for 5-10 minutes a day is only enough to moisten a few inches of the soil. Here are some practical watering instructions you should keep in mind throughout the life of a tree.
Year 1 - a few days after planting you should be watering every single day by filling the tree basin with 15 gallons of water. Reduce the amount of times you water to once a week within the next 3 weeks. The next 6 months you should fill the basin every other week for the remainder of the first year. At this point, roots require not just water, but also oxygen.
Year 2 - when rain is scarce, you should water every 2-4 weeks with about 15-20 gallons of water. Don't water on the surface, because that creates water dependency and shallow roots. The goal is to water deeply but infrequently, so as to allow roots to seek moisture underground in order to develop properly.
Years 3-5 - watering once a month with 20-30 gallons of water is ideal. That maximizes soaking and conserves water at the same time. Keep in mind prolonged dry periods, because proper watering during such times means the difference between a thriving and a struggling tree.
Weeding - despite the fact that trees usually tower over other plants that can leave them deprived of nutrients and moisture. It is best to keep the base of the tree free from grass and other plants.
Protection - keep lawn equipment at bay, since it can damage the cambium layer just behind the bark. Don't use chemicals near young trees and prune them carefully. It might be best to resort to arboricultural consultants for this job.
Proper tree care during the initial years after planting is essential for the health of any tree. Follow the tips outlined above to ensure your trees grow strong and healthy.