After proper selection and planting, the single best thing
you can do for any tree, just planted or older, is to mulch. Organic
mulch can be purchased at most garden supply stores or from mulch
suppliers. You can also create mulch from your own compost pile.
Mulch retains moisture, protects trees from damage from lawn mowers
and weeders, moderates soil temperatures, provides a natural interchange
of nutrients, controls weeds, and eliminates competition for space,
nutrients, and moisture from grass. Mulch zones should encircle the
tree from the trunk to a distance of at least three feet.
should be mulched from the trunk to a distance of approximately
one foot for each inch of trunk diameter. If it is impractical to
mulch the prescribed distance for larger trees, the mulch zone
be as large as possible, but at least twelve feet in radius from
Water management is based on the size and type of plant,
air temperature, humidity, amount of sunlight, wind, and soil type.
The most important criteria is to select a tree that is appropriate
and tolerant of the natural water levels of your neighborhood.
However, during dry or hot and windy periods, especially with very
sandy or heavy clay soils, additional watering is desirable.
When watering is performed, it should be done in the early morning.
This will minimize water loss from evaporation and will allow time
for leaves and soil to dry, which helps prevent fungal problems.
Watering should be performed infrequently and slowly so that it percolates
deeply into the soil. This encourages good root structure and better
root distribution. Water should be distributed evenly to as much
of the root system as possible.
Like watering, fertilizing should be kept to a minimum.
A regular mulching program should maintain a good nutrient cycle,
minimizing the need for supplemental fertilizer. However, on certain
sites where certain nutrient requirements cannot be maintained
or acquired, or construction or damage creates stress, fertilizer
It is advisable to consult a Certified Arborist
for fertilization recommendations for specific tree species and
a slow-release fertilizer, applied at rates according to label
directions during times when moisture levels are high, is the
Pruning should be performed to remove dead, damaged, diseased,
and crossing limbs, to reduce crowding of branches, and to eliminate
hazards. Pruning can also be performed to slow growth, to reduce
wind resistance, to increase light penetration, to shape the canopy
and to prevent or enhance flowering and fruiting. Consult a landscape
professional regarding pruning, especially if the tree is near
The key to pruning is to select the correct limbs for removal and
to make the proper pruning cut, called “natural target pruning.”
Always cut at nodes. Nodes are where branches meet other branches
or the main trunk.
Do not remove more than one-third of the foliage at any single pruning.
Always make proper cuts. Proper pruning cuts use the branch bark
ridge as a guide. Start the cut next to the top and beside the branch
bark ridge. Do not cut the ridge. The final cut should be at an opposite
and approximately equal angle to the bark branch ridge. This will
remove the target limb without damaging the branch collar, which
will enable the tree to effectively compartmentalize the wound and
protect itself from rot and disease.
Do not paint cuts. Wound dressings do not help the tree and can
actually cause harm by inhibiting wound closure and providing a warm,
moist site for decay-causing organisms such as fungi.