Caring for a newly planted tree

Caring for newly planted trees and shrubs

The success or failure of a tree or shrub starts with the planting and post planting procedures and care. Once planted they need proper care until they are established and mature. The roots need to be established, they need watering, mulching, fertilizing, and pruning.


Establishing Roots

When a newly planted tree or shrub is establishing its roots it is not growing much in the canopy, don’t let this cause discouragement because the growth of the tree may not be noticeable in the first few seasons. The establishment of roots is a phase and does not happen overnight. This phase actually takes one growing season per inch of diameter of the tree or shrub when conditions are favorable. For example, when proper planting techniques are followed, proper care is given, and soil conditions are ideal a tree with a two inch diameter trunk will take two growing seasons to establish its roots.


Watering assists greatly in the establishment of the roots. Regular watering encourages rapid root growth while under-watered trees and shrubs will have slow establishment, canopy die back, and bark splitting on the trunk.

It is important to be on the proper watering schedule and watering the proper amount at the proper time throughout the day. Watering in larger amounts on an infrequent schedule does not make up for missing a lighter, more frequent watering. It is important to check soil conditions before watering each time to ensure that it is needed. Newly planted trees and shrubs do not fare well when over-watered.


The fertilization process strongly depends on the type of tree or shrub as well as soil conditions around it. Certain trees and shrubs need fertilization while others do not. It is best to conduct a soil analysis to determine the soil conditions around the area of the newly planted tree or shrub before applying fertilizer to that area. It would also be beneficial to research the type of tree or shrub that has been installed to determine if fertilizer would be beneficial or harmful.


While the tree or shrub is in the establishment phase, pruning is quite limited. The only branches or twigs that should be pruned are those that are dead, broken, or dying. Too much pruning can cause a decline a hormone that is produced in the canopy but stimulates root growth.

When first purchasing the tree or shrub, it is best to pick one that will not require a lot of immediate pruning. A tree or shrub with a good structure is one to look for.

Sum it up

When caring for newly planted trees and shrubs, not all trees and shrubs are created equal. Research is the key for each particular plant being worked with. Lawn care services, tree service companies and nurseries are excellent resources to ask questions and get recommendations from.

If you are ever unsure of what to do, how to handle a job, or just too short on time it is best to call a professional to be sure the job is being done correctly. Look around, ask friends or family, and research companies on the Better Business Bureau to find a company that you can trust.

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