Tree Planting 101: Part 10 – Tree Aftercare

It is important to understand the process of how a newly planted tree grows.  Trees can lose up to 90 percent of their original root system when transplanted from the nursery field.  So in the first year of planting, the shoots are likely to be shorter and the leaves smaller than normal.  An arborist can help explain how the tree will transform over three years, and can also help make sure the tree receives proper fertilization and pruning during that time.

-In the first year, the roots gradually take hold – but as leaves and shoots are smaller and shorter in the first year, energy for the root growth will be limited.

-In the second year, roots spread over a greater distance – so they will take up more water and nutrients, promoting more topgrowth on the tree.

– In the third and subsequent years, the tree will experience vigorous growth now that the root system is fully recovered from transplanting and well established.

Tree Aftercare

Immediately after a tree is planted, a tree care program must be followed to ensure that it thrives.  An arborist can help design a regular maintenance plan so that you can rest easy knowing that your tree is receiving the care it needs to grow into a healthy, aesthetic tree.  If you prefer to take care of the tree on your own after planting, here are some simple steps to get you started.  As always, we recommend talking to an arborist to help put together a treatment plan that works for your climate, location and tree species.

Tree treatment tips (be be administered after a tree is planted):

  • Apply generous amounts of water every two weeks, rather than a sprinkling every few days, to encourage deep rooting.  In the first year, watering is the most important job.  By creating a shallow dip around the trunk, we create a reservoir for water to collect and keep the root system moist.
  • While it is not necessary to fertilize trees after planting, in subsequent years, a continuous-release, all-purpose plant food can help to boost the growth of trees planted in poor or very well-drained soil.  The plant food should be applied over the root area (under the canopy).
  • Keep the root area under the tree free of weeds.  Weed on a regular basis rather than allowing a carpet of weeds to develop.  A thick layer of mulch will help with keeping the space clear of weeks, and the mulch should be topped up as it rots away.
  • As an alternative, lay a soaker hose over the root area and cover with mulch