Care and Maintenance
To increase the survival rate of newly transplanted trees, practice the following tree care techniques.
Watering is perhaps the most important task for owners of newly transplanted trees. The frequency and amount of watering varies based on area rainfall, moisture-holding capacity of the soil, and site drainage characteristics. Newly transplanted trees need an inch of water every week to ten days (including rainwater). When the water begins to stand in the water basin for about one minute, then the tree has received enough water. Caution: Over watering can be just as harmful to the tree as under watering.
Mulching is also important for newly transplanted trees because mulch can conserve soil moisture, moderate extreme temperature changes, prevent soil compaction, reduce competition with turfgrass, and prevent mechanical injury from mowers and string trimmers. Organic material such as wood chips and shredded bark make excellent mulches. Grass clippings should not be used. Mulch young trees beyond the edge of the branch canopy to a depth of 4-6 inches. Be sure not to pile the mulch up around the trunk of the tree.
Pruning at planting time is only necessary for selective removal of crowded or interfering branches, weak or damaged branches, or removal of co-dominate stems to create a single leader.
Supporting newly transplanted trees help keep the trees in an upright position. Small trees or those with large heavy rootballs probably don’t need to be staked. Top heavy trees, bare-root trees, and those having high wind resistance may require some support until their roots develop, usually never more than 2 growing seasons. To prevent girdling injury, avoid using wire to stake a tree. Instead, use any strong, soft, wide strips of material. Also, don’t support the tree too rigidly. Trees need to be free to move a little bit.
Trunk wrapping is a very controversial topic. Some scientists argue that wrapping decreases a young tree's food manufacturing ability. Others feel that wrapping prevents injury to the tree such as sunscald and frost crack. Decisions about trunk wrapping need to be made on an individual tree basis. Before deciding to wrap a trunk, take into consideration the tree species and the site conditions. If wrap is needed, install in late fall and remove early the following spring to prevent potential harmful build-up of high temperature and moisture between the trunk and the wrap.
Fertilizing is generally not recommended unless you know soil is deficient in certain essential minerals.
For more information about tree care, call Trees Forever at 1-800-369-1269. An excellent reference and partial source of information for this tip sheet is the National Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA Bulletins.