Trees can take up to three years to become fully established. These first three years are the most critical and when we can influence their overall health the most. We have another Tree planting guide here, so we won’t cover that. This guide will cover what happens after planting and the best practices for the first few years.
February is an important month of the year for your trees. This is the month you will take care of your heavy pruning. How/what to prune is covered in other articles so I won’t go into that here. Just know, this is the time of year you will want to do it. You want to prune early in the season because the trees are still in dormancy and haven’t started moving stored energy from the roots, back into the tree. If you prune later and the tree has started waking up, we are removing those nutrients. Pruning before this will assure there is enough energy for the tree to push new growth.
March – May
During the spring months, you won’t have to do much. If you have planted your tree in these months, you will want to water once a week. When watering, soak the area for around 20 to 30 minutes. If it is a larger tree you may want to water even longer. I really wouldn’t recommend watering more than this, overwatering will cause just as many problems as under watering. This is also the time of year I recommend using Zamzows Thrive. Trees are soaking up a lot of water and food during these months and having Thrive in the soil for them will keep all that growth healthy and green. It will also help your trees begin to recover from any winter damage or stress. If you couldn’t get to pruning in February you can do it now, just less than you would have.
June – August
These will be some of the most stressful months for newly planted trees, even in years two and three. Watering during this time of year can be increased to two and then three times a week if needed. Water for the same amount of time as you did in the spring.
>**Caution:** If your tree looks a little wilty, don’t assume it needs more water. If there is too much water in the soil it can begin to wilt as well. Use a hand trowel and dig down about six inches a few feet from the trunk. Take note of how wet the soil is and adjust accordingly.
Pruning during these months should be kept to a minimum. Pruning out dead or damaged branches, or branches that are getting in your way are fine and can be done whenever. If your tree is showing signs of leaf scorch or seems stressed it may be helpful to apply Thrive again. My best advice for this time of year, “Don’t be Hasty.” Don’t try to do too much. There comes a point where you just need to let your tree do its thing. Watching your tree struggle is difficult, and we always want to do more for them. Sometimes doing less, is more.
Sept – November
As we approach fall, adjust your watering schedule again. The amount of time you water will remain consistent, however, begin reducing the number of days as the temperatures fall. You will also want to think about getting your trees ready for dormancy. One last application of Thrive will give your trees an extra boost of nutrients to store during the winter. If you have had or want to prevent bugs, this is the time to apply Zamzows Systemic Insecticide. This application will prevent Borers and Aphids all the way until the next fall. As the leaves begin to fall it is a good idea to gather them up, especially if you have been dealing with any fungus. Once our irrigation water is turned off, watch for any prolonged dry spells. If we end up going for a few weeks without rain and the temperatures rise, you will want to water them a few more times. The last thing you want is to have a drought stressed tree go into a freezing winter.
December – January
There isn’t a whole lot to do this time of year for your trees, however, there is one thing I want to address. Many evergreen trees can suffer from what is called winter desiccation. This is caused by freezing soil and relatively high ambient air temperatures. Dry winds will essentially freeze dry the leaves and cause a lot of leaf burn and needle loss. Cedar trees suffer the most, however, any evergreen can suffer from this. If possible, getting a little bit of water under these trees can help tremendously. It will only take a few gallons as the trees don’t need much just enough to keep the leaves hydrated.
Once your trees are established they won’t need much from us. A feeding every now and then, some water if it gets crazy hot. Really though, trees have been around for a long time and they can get by without us just fine.