Do . . .


Water Young Trees

  • watering is the most important step to ensure survival, since newly planted trees may have lost up to 90% of their roots in the transplantation process
  • water approximately twice per week - use a hose on very low trickle for 15-20 minutes or give 3 to 4 buckets/watering cans full  - ensure that water does not run off the surface and the tree receives a deep watering
  • check your newly planted tree every two to three days - soil beneath mulch should feel slightly moist to the touch - if it feels dry, your tree needs to be watered (make sure not to over water, especially trees that thrive in dry conditions - water should never remain pooled at base of tree)
  • this should be continued for the first three years after the tree has been planted, starting in the spring when the ground has thawed and through to the fall when the ground is frozen


Water Mature Trees

  • established trees need water too especially during the hot summer months!
  • once per week give a deep soaking to the whole area under the tree's canopy - a soaker hose coiled under the canopy and left to drip for a few hours is ideal
  • if using a sprinkler, limit watering times to early morning or late evening so you don't loose water through evaporation
  • avoid getting leaves wet at this can cause scorch or mildew


  • mulch is any organic material used to hold moisture at the base of the tree (un-dyed woodchips and/or leaves are ideal)
  • mulch also prevents grass and weed competition, provides nutrients as it decomposes, and delineates an area that should be kept free of lawn mowers, weed-whackers, pedestrian traffic, etc.
  • apply mulch to soil surface in a donut shape around the tree, approximately two to three inches deep and as wide as possible - remember that tree roots reach out farther than branches
  • ensure mulch is not mounded up against the tree trunk since mulch holds moisture and may promote rotting - keep approximately six inches from the base of the tree
  • mulch should be replaced annually as it decomposes
  • ensure there is a two to three inch layer of mulch as winter approaches to insulate tree roots from damaging freeze-thaw cycles
  • use natural sources of fertilizer only, such as compost, manure, bone meal or fish emulsion
  • use "top-dressing" application method - sprinkle on soil or mulch surface as far out as the drip-line of the tree (as far as the branches reach) - nutrients will gradually penetrate soil with rainfall or watering and can then be reapplied
  • natural fertilizers can be applied at any time of year


do not. . .

  • stake your tree improperly - never use materials such as wire, rope or string to tie your tree straight - tying materials should be wide and soft, and should be removed after one year
  • use chemical fertilizers or pesticides
  • apply high nitrogen fertilizer to lawns surrounding newly planted trees - this will encourage excessive leaf growth before roots have had time to securely anchor the tree in the ground - your tree may "flop-over" as a result
  • use wound paint - this interferes with the tree's natural healing process and does more harm than good
  • mow or weed-whack around the base of the tree as physical damage at the base of the tree can be fatal
  • till around the base of the tree as this damages fine roots necessary for water absorption - don't plant vegetables or flowers that require constant maintenance under your tree - plant ground covers instead
  • prune improperly or excessively - pruning should only be done by a qualified professional. For more information on how to properly prune click here
  • compact soil around the base of the tree by walking, playing or driving over the area under the tree's canopy
  • change the grade around your tree - adding or removing soil and changing the grade will negatively impact roots
  • store or install impermeable material such as concrete blocks or paving anywhere near your tree - this will prevent both air and water from penetrating the soil, both of which are essential to roots and tree survival