How to Care for New Trees

Planting new trees on your land has many benefits. Trees provide much-needed summer shade, create privacy, filter polluted air and increase property value.

Once full-grown, trees are very easy to care for: another benefit! They are strong and tend to continue growing with minimal care. However, if you want to help your trees achieve their potential, they need a little more effort.

Lack of care for growing trees might cause rotting, disease, under watering or pest issues.

Fortunately, caring for trees isn’t very difficult, but you do need some tips to do it correctly. Research the trees you plant to know exactly what they need to succeed. Then properly care for them and watch them flourish.

Below, we’ll explain the five best tips on how to plant a new tree and seeing it grow. You probably are familiar with the basics, so we’ll dive a little deeper and lay out how to do each step correctly.

Tree Care Tips for New Trees

These tips will not only keep your trees alive, they’ll help them grow faster, withstand damaging winds, fight off diseases and pests and produce more leaves, flowers or fruit.

Water Your Tree

New trees need more water than well-established ones. The trees you plant on your property are no exception.

The root ball of the tree and the soil surrounding it need be kept moist, but don’t let it get soaked, as this might cause the roots to rot.

The best practice is 4-10 gallons of water every week. Rain water counts, and although it’s difficult to get an exact reading, a rain gauge can help get you close enough to add the rest. Your trees will need this much water every week for the initial 2-3 growing seasons.

Mulch Around Your Trees

Mulch is much more than an attractive landscaping product. It also helps protect new trees, especially the roots. But laying mulch incorrectly can cause rotting and decay – so much so, that the new tree will not survive.

Place mulch exactly 3 inches away from the trunk of the tree and spread it out to cover the ground under the longest horizontal branch. For brand new trees, this won’t be very far, but as the tree continues to grow, your mulch area will grow as well.

Keep the mulch no less than 2 to 4 inches thick in all areas. Be vigilant in spreading it out consistently and away from the trunk of the tree so it does not impede air flow around the trunk.

Fertilize Around Your Tree

Fertilizer provides nutrients your soil may not have naturally. Most new trees benefit from fertilizing, but you have to be using the right products and do it at the right time for fertilizer to be most impactful.

The perfect time of year to fertilize is early spring. Sometimes early summer provides good conditions (mild temperatures and moist soil), but don’t count on it.

If you aren’t sure about which fertilizer to use, speak to a tree care specialist for advice. Slow-release fertilizers are often a good idea because they feed trees over a period of time rather than all right away.

Follow through with these things in the first few growing seasons after planting a new tree, and then reconsider your watering, mulching and fertilizing as the tree becomes more established. As time goes on, there will be additional tree care tasks that are more important for your young trees.

Trim Your Tree

Tree trimming is very important – yet very tricky – in the early years after you plant a tree. As the tree grows bigger, you will see a lot of little branches take off, trying to become the trunk of the tree. While you may think this means that the tree is healthy and growing well, but it can actually lead to a very weak tree as time goes on.

Early trimming shapes the tree into what it will ultimately look like when it becomes much larger. As little limbs emerge on the lower trunk, they need to be cut off so they don’t pull water and nutrients from the branches at the top of the tree.

So long as you have trees growing somewhere on your land, they need to be trimmed regularly. When the tree gets too large for you to trim them safely, you can count on SD Tree Trimming to do the job for you.

Monitor Your Tree

New trees are at the most risk for damage, disease and insect problems. But you’re never completely safe from these issues. As your tree grows older, monitor it closely for signs of disease or poor nutrition, including the following:

  • Leaf color changing out of season, with leaves turning yellow or brown
  • Early leaf drop, despite whether these leaves appear healthy or sick
  • Withering, despite adequate watering
  • Single branches dying
  • Bark peeling off

These signals likely mean a health issue. The tree is likely going to require professional maintenance if your goal is to keep the tree alive. An experienced arborist can usually identify the problem by simply looking at the tree, although they will do testing whenever necessary.

If you identify the issue quick enough, you will likely be able to save the tree from dying. Being proactive is the best way to protect your younger trees.

The tips above are basic but effective. Don’t underestimate the value of the basics! When your new trees have proper care, combined with sunshine and barring severe, damaging weather, the odds are probable that the tree will survive and look wonderful!

Of course, you may already have a lot on your plate and don’t really want to be responsible for these additional tasks. In many cases, property owners don’t have the ability or the tools to give their growing trees the necessary maintenance.

No matter the situation, it’s a good idea to contact a professional for the care of new trees. A professional arborist in South Dakota can consult with you about the best course of care for each tree species you plant. Arborists enjoy sharing their knowledge and skills with people planting new trees on their land, and can be the difference between trees that struggle and trees thriving.

Call SD Tree Trimming now for information on routine tree care in South Dakota – including tree pruning – for new trees and older trees. A local tree service will determine the best plan for your trees! Locate your city in our service area here.