Caring for Your Street Tree
Proper establishment of your street tree is essential to the future health and maintenance requirements of your tree. A good investment of time now will save you maintenance dollars in the future. Here are some things you can do to
help care for your tree that will provide a healthy establishment period and result in a long and happy life for your tree.
Watering a new tree is the single most important thing you can do to care for your tree. The most effective way to water is to make sure the soil is saturated with at least 15 gallons (3, five gallon buckets). We recommend watering your tree 1-3 times a week for 3 years more, frequent during dry weeks. Additionally, urban soil can become compacted and difficult to penetrate, cultivating soil 2-3 inches below surface can help water to reach the tree’s root system.
- Soil should be moist not soaked, overwatering your tree can result in the leaves turning yellow and falling off.
- Consider amount of rain during the week before watering (If it rains 1 inch or more in a week's time period, you do not need to water)
- When the soil is dry below the surface of the mulch, it is time to water.
- Water May through October.
- Water slowly so the water penetrates the soil and does not run off of the surface.
- When using a garden hose placing a 5 gallon bucket with holes in the bottom near the tree can help to measure amount of water without having to carry bucket to tree.
Weeds are fast growing, fast moving, and fast reproducing plants that tend to dominate space and nutrients from other plants. Weeds can compete for water and nutrients that can stress out trees. Street trees live in very small spaces that only provide limited amount of nutrients therefore having as little competition as possible its optimal environment for street trees.
Mulch is simply organic matter applied to the area at the base of the tree. It acts as a blanket to hold moisture, it moderates soil temperature extremes, and it reduces competition from grass and weeds.
- Before placing mulch, loosen the top 2-3 inches of soil using a hand or garden rake to alleviate compaction and help water and air reach the roots.
- A 2- to 4-inch mulch layer is ideal.
- More than 4 inches may cause a problem with oxygen and moisture levels
- The soil level around a tree should not be changed from the soil level at which it was planted. Adding soil (even 6 inches) can smother roots and rot a tree's trunk. Digging soil out can damage shallow roots.
- Use shredded bark or composted wood chips.
- When placing mulch, be sure that the actual trunk of the tree is not covered. Doing so may cause decay of the living bark at the base of the tree. A mulch-free area, 1 to 2 inches wide at the base of the tree, is sufficient to avoid moist bark conditions and prevent decay.
Planting flowers or plants around a tree is a nice way to add color to your neighborhood. But remember please do not plant flowers within the first 3 years of the tree planting it could add stress to the tree.
- Choose plants that require little watering. Key words to look for are “drought tolerant” and “xeric conditions”.
- Use small plants and bulbs – large plants require large planting holes, which damage tree roots. In addition plants with large root systems compete with the tree for water and nutrients.
- Do not add more than 2” of soil to your tree pit. Raising the soil level will harm the tree.
- Mulching a tree pit is always good for your tree and plants. Mulch keeps the soil moist and prevents weeds from sprouting in tree pits.
- NEVER PLANT! Bamboo, Ivy, Vines, Woody Shrubs, Evergreens. They are all major competitors for water and nutrients and can stunt or kill a tree.
- Daffodils, Lilies of the Valley or Tulips are bulbs that are affordable, easy to plant and usually return each spring.