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Tree Talk - Metropolitan Forestry Services

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January 9, 2020

Proper Care For New Trees

The Spring planting season is upon us!  St. Louis’s unpredictable weather can wreak havoc in our landscapes.  Tender new leaves and delicate flowers have likely been frozen off with the late freeze this spring.  The plants should recover, but keep an eye on them as it will take energy reserves to put on a new set of leaves.  If you have any concerns, have your arborist come take a look.

Here are some guidelines to give new additions to your landscape the best start possible:

  • Mulch is the best thing you can give a new tree, an old tree, or any tree!  Low, wide mulch rings are BEST: 2- 3″ in a low donut-shaped ring around the base of the tree – NO VOLCANOS!
  • Keep lawn mowers and string trimmers away from the trunks and root flares!
  • Wrap the trunks (especially with the thin-barked species like maple) to prevent sun scald and deer damage. Monitor and check the wrap every month or so.
  • Monitor and hand water the tree when needed for the first few years until it gets fully established.  New trees take one year per inch of diameter to get established. A 3 inch tree takes 3 years of careful monitoring to get established.
  • Trees require slow, deep watering. Check the soil moisture once a week 4-6” below the surface.
  • Watch for signs of drought stress like wilting, yellowing and drooping of leaves. Over watering  and drought present the same symptoms, so always check the soil!
  • If the tree needs staking, leave the supports for one year then remove.
  • Do not prune for the first 3-5 years. This helps develop a better trunk taper and the additional foliage helps the young tree photosynthesize.
  • Trees can take 2-5 years to fully recover from transplant shock depending on the type of tree, trunk size when planted, and soil type.
Valerie Brej, ISA Photos

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Our goal is to provide you with the best possible service. If you are not satisfied with any treatment or completed job, we will resolve the situation to your satisfaction. We want to do our utmost to ensure your trees and shrubs are always 'green and growing'.