Tree care during the early years

Care of your newly planted tree is critical to its long-term health. There's not much to do, but it's important to do it right. Read on for details.

✓ Pruning young trees: The pruning you do on your new trees will set their course for life, determining their shape, strength, and overall health. It's easy to do, but it's critical that you do it right and not do too much. Develop a central trunk with main scaffold branches spaced evenly along and around the trunk. Eliminate any tight crotches as well as any branches that are crossing, rubbing, damaged, weak, oversized, or redundant (see Figure 17-3). See Chapter 20 for more pruning advice.

Some folks will tell you that a newly planted tree should be heavily cut back. Poppycock. A young tree needs every leaf to develop a healthy root system. Prune with a light hand, following the previous instructions.

  • Establishment watering: Two of the biggest reasons trees don't establish properly are underwatering and overwatering. Monitor the soil with a probe or shovel to make sure the root ball doesn't dry out. If your soil drains poorly, be sure you don't drown the tree.
  • Fertilizing and pest control: Assuming that you fertilized well at planting time and chose species well adapted to your site, your trees shouldn't require feeding for months or years. If growth slows abnormally, broadcast a balanced organic fertilizer throughout the root zone, and water it into the top 12 to 18 inches of soil. Watch for and promptly treat insect damage and disease.
  • Protection: Keep gophers under control. Build sturdy cages around your trees if deer or other browsers are a problem. Shade or whitewash your sun-sensitive trees to protect them against sunscald. Stake securely if strong winds are a consideration.

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All You Need To Know About Organic Gardening

All You Need To Know About Organic Gardening

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