Water, Mulch & Stake
Trees, like all plants, will thrive if they are properly cared for. The more care a tree receives in its first two years, the more likely it is to survive and flourish. And the bigger a tree is when planted, the more aftercare/tree surgery it will require.
Year 1 – 3: It is most critical to providing adequate water during the annual growing season, between late spring and autumn.
Year 4 and after: You can relax a bit on tree watering in later years but water may be needed during long periods of drought.
Mulching the Tree
The mulching of a newly planted tree ensures that moisture is available to roots. This moisture helps the tree over time and is a great ally to a young tree as it reduces grass competition.
A good mulch like leaves, bark, needles, and fine wood chips should ring the bass of the tree base over the critical root zone but never touch the tree. No fertilizer is necessary when quality composted mulch is used.
Year 1 – 3: Maintain the mulch level with no more than 4 inches of material over the roots (the wider the better) but not touching the tree.
Year 4 and after a tree appreciates a good mulch so it is appropriate to maintain adequate mulch levels annually during spring.
Avoid using nitrogen fertilizers — use complete fertilizers only after a soil test.
Staking the Tree
Not all newly planted trees need staking to remain standing straight. Stake only if the root ball is unstable or the tree trunk is bending. Use only loosely tied, wide straps and limit the number of straps to a minimum for support.
Year 1 – 3: Use tree stakes only when needed. Many tree owners automatically stake every tree not knowing that it is often unnecessary. Check all stakes and straps during spring and autumn for a loose fit and alter to prevent trunk damage.
All straps should be removed after the first or second year.
Year 4 and after: Do not stake older trees.