Tree Care After Planting

Remove tags and labels from trees and shrubs to prevent girdling branches and trunks. Make a map of planted area.

Good follow-up watering helps promote root growth. Drip irrigation systems and water reservoir devices facilitate watering. Your fingers are the best test of whether the plant needs to be watered. Its ok to let them get a little dry between waterings. Frequency and duration of watering is dependent on aspect, soil type, season, whether or not the tree is carrying fruit and climatic factors

Mulch, but don’t over mulch newly planted trees and shrubs. Two to three inches of mulch is best; less if a fine material, more if coarse. Humates and other minerals and soil inoculants are all considerations depending on what soil tests recommend and site conditions require.

Keep mulch from touching tree trunks and shrub stems. This prevents disease, insect and rodent problems if using organic mulches, and bark abrasion if using inorganic mulches.

Don’t use black plastic beneath mulch around trees and shrubs because it blocks air and water exchange. Black plastic and all types of weed barriers are just that. They create barriers that will block insects, worms and other processes of transferring organic matter into the soil profile.

Only stake trees with large crowns, or those situated on windy sites or where people may push them over. Stake for a maximum of one year. Allow trees a slight amount of flex rather than holding them rigidly in place. Use guying or attaching material that won’t damage the bark such as wide cloth straps. Wrap the strap once around the trunk at half the height. Use 2 wood stakes, not metal. To prevent trunk girdling, remove all guying material after one year.

Most trees should not have their trunks wrapped. Wrapping often increases insect, disease, and water damage to trunks.


For protection against animal or equipment damage, install guards or a circle of mesh fencing to protect the trunk. Be sure the guards are loose-fitting and permit air circulation. Remove plastic guards in Spring.

For protection against larger animals (like deer) install a large ring of field fencing to keep the animals from nibbling at the leaves and young branches.