These comprehensive tree care tips will guide you through the process of selecting, planting, and caring for the right tree for your space. It’s important to remember that proper tree care starts when you select a tree. And what you do to your tree in its first few years of life will affect its shape, strength, and even its lifespan. Following these steps will make sure your tree gets a good start for a healthy life.
Proper tree care begins with selecting the right tree and planting it in the right place. Make sure your tree will thrive — especially once fully grown — where you want to plant it. Things to consider include:
The tree’s purpose. Are you planting it for aesthetics, privacy, shade/energy reduction, windbreak, or as a street tree? Your end goal will determine the suitability of different trees.
Planting site limitations. What is your hardiness zone? What is the maximum height and spread for a tree in the space? What are the sun exposure and soil conditions? This information is available for more than 200 trees and woody shrubs in our Tree Guide.
Learn more about planting the Right Tree in the Right Place. You can also find a tree with the Tree Wizard — a free online tool to help you narrow down your choices and select the right tree for the right place.
Short, flowering trees don’t clash with overhead utility lines. Large deciduous trees on the southeast, southwest, and west provide cooling shade in the summer but don’t obstruct the warming winter sunlight. An evergreen windbreak to the north blocks cold winds in winter.
Good tree care starts with a healthy tree. Here’s what to look for to ensure your tree can provide a lifetime of benefits.
Bare-Root Seedlings : Roots should be moist and fibrous.
Deciduous seedlings should have roots about equal to stem length.
Balled and Burlapped Trees: Root ball should be firm to the touch, especially near the trunk.
Root ball should be adequate for the tree’s size.
Container-Grown Trees :Container should not contain large, circling roots.
Pruned roots should be cut cleanly, none wider than a finger.
Soil and roots should be joined tightly.
A strong, well-developed leader (or leaders in a multi-leader tree).
Bright, healthy bark.
Trunk and limbs free of insect or mechanical injury.
Branches well-distributed around trunk, considerably smaller caliper than trunk.
Ideal spacing between branches, at least 8–12″ for most species.
Good trunk taper.
Wide-angle crotches for strength.
Low branches — they are temporary but help develop taper, promote trunk caliper growth, and prevent sun damage.
How To Videos:
Mulch is a newly planted tree’s best friend because it:
Insulates the soil, helping to provide a buffer from heat and cold.
Retains water to help the roots stay moist.
Keeps weeds out to avoid root competition.
Prevents soil compaction.
Reduces lawn mower damage.
Remove any grass within a 3-foot area (up to 10 feet for larger tree).
Pour natural mulch such as wood chips or bark pieces 2 to 4 inches deep within the circle.
Keep the mulch from touching the trunk of the tree.
Tree watering is a key part of tree care, but it is difficult to recommend an exact amount due to the variety of climates. A few guidelines will help you to water your trees properly.
For new trees, water immediately after you plant a tree. Usually 30 seconds with a steady stream of water from a garden hose w/ a diffuser nozzle per tree seedling is sufficient.
During the first couple growing seasons, your newly planted tree is expending a lot of energy trying to get its roots established in the soil. Especially during the first few summers of your new trees life, it will have a difficult time dealing with heat and drought. You can make this easier by providing water and covering the soil with wood-chip mulch. Deep watering can help speed the root establishment. Deep water consists of keeping the soil moist to a depth that includes all the roots.
Not enough water is harmful for the tree, but too much water is bad as well. Over-watering is a common tree care mistake. Please note that moist is different than soggy, and you can judge this by feel. A damp soil that dries for a short period will allow adequate oxygen to permeate the soil.
You can check soil moisture by using a garden trowel and inserting it into the ground to a depth of 2″, and then move the blade of the trowel back and forth to create a small narrow trench. Then use your finger to touch the soil. If it is moist to the touch, then they do not need water.
If your area constantly deals with drought you will want to consider trees listed as drought-tolerant. Some drought-tolerant species include Arizona Cypress, Japanese Zelkova, White Fir, and Kentucky Coffeetree.
On the opposite side of the spectrum if your area deals with a large amount of moisture or wet conditions, here are a few trees that will do better in wet conditions: Baldcypress, Shellbark Hickory, Red Maple, Silver Maple, Paper Birch, River Birch, and Weeping Willow.
Proper pruning technique is important for a healthy tree. Please review our animated Tree Pruning Guide as well as videos on why pruning is necessary, the rules of pruning, and the ABCs of pruning.
This depends to a large extent on why you prune. Light pruning and the removal of dead wood can be done anytime. Otherwise, below are some guidelines for the different seasons.
Pruning during dormancy is the most common practice. It results in a vigorous burst of new growth in the spring and should be used if that is the desired effect. It is usually best to wait until the coldest part of winter has passed.
To direct the growth by slowing the branches you don’t want, or to “dwarf” the development of a tree or branch, pruning should be done soon after seasonal growth is complete. Another reason to prune in the summer is for corrective purposes. Defective limbs can be seen more easily.
For trees that bloom in spring, prune when their flowers fade. Trees and shrubs that flower in mid- to late summer should be pruned in winter or early spring.
Because decay fungi spread their spores profusely in the fall and wounds seem to heal more slowly on fall on cuts, this is a good time to leave your pruning tools in storage. Landscaping Shrubbery Care
Shrubs are an essential and beautiful part of any landscape. Shrubs are small to medium-sized woody plants. These plants are bigger than a flower but small compared to a tree. Most of the shrubs are evergreen, and some shed leaves in the winter season. Consider adding some shrubs to your lawn while designing your lawn. They make a great addition and attraction at places like fountains, walkways, and other hardscapes. Shrubs can also be used as background for the garden beds in your lawn.
Shrubs add beauty, texture, and structure to your lawn. You can choose them based on your interest. Most chosen is the hydrangeas, because of the long-lasting blossoms. If greenery is your choice, then pick a variety from yews, arborvitae, and boxwood.
Shrub maintenance involves a careful choice of the desired shrub and taking care of it after planting to get the best blossoms in the year.
The shrubs that are selected for the plantation should be able to cope up with the soil and climatic conditions. Read all the labels and instructions if any present with the shrub packet. The Fall season is the best time to plant shrubs, as the plant gets more time to grow before the winter season.
Water is essential for the plants or shrubs to thrive. Especially the watering should be done once in a week thoroughly. If you are using a sprinkler, you can adjust the timer for about 10 minutes and see that the lawn is completely soaked in the water or the soil completely absorbs the water in the yard. In the fall season water your shrubs before the first frost.
Newly planted shrubs should not be fed with fertilizer in the fall, but feed if planting n the spring. Mulch the soil with compost to make the soil enriched with micronutrients. For the shrubs that are planted and established, timed release fertilizers can be added according to the need of the plants from spring through July .
To maintain the size and shape of the shrubs, pruning is to be done on a regular basis. Make use of different tools for pruning the plants or shrubs. Late winter to spring is the best time to prune your summer flowering shrubs. For spring flowering shrubs, prune after they bloom.
You need to stake the new plants on the lawn, especially when the shrubs are weak and you have a hard time to keep them straight. The support to the plants should be given until they have developed a strong trunk. The stalk used should be about the height of the tree. Using a heavy wrapped wire the stalk is tied to the branches of the tree. Ensure that the cable is covered with a hose to protect the tree bark from rubbing.
Before planting the shrubs, you need to test the soil and find out if there are any deficiencies present in the land. If there are any shortage of nutrients, you can fill the gap by using the prescribed fertilizer. Use slow-release fertilizers for overcoming the nitrogen deficiency.
Pests are a big problem for the shrubs. If you find any pests on the shrubs or plants, consult a local Lawn Care Professional to suggest the right method to remove the pests from the lawn.
Mulching is the process that helps to retain the moisture and warmth of the soil. In the winter season, the mulch help the shrubs to retain water. Organic mulching materials such as pine bark and pine needles can be used for mulching the shrubs.
Implementing proper gardening and shrub maintenance is always the key to keep the shrubs in your lawn green and healthy. So, pick your favorite shrubs that suit your neighborhood and make sure that the pruning, watering, fertilization and other tasks which are essential for healthy growth of this special plants are done properly.