Tree Care for the First Two Years

Your trees will need extra care for the first two years while they are establishing a healthy root system.  Below is an explanation of our planting procedure and your care.


  1. Dig a hole twice as wide as and a little shallower than the root ball.  When digging in heavy clay soil, it is important to avoid “glazing”.  Glazing occurs when the sides and bottom of a hole become smooth, forming a barrier which the roots have difficulty growing through.  Use a garden fork to work the bottom and drag the point of the fork along the sides of the completed hole to break up the smooth surface.
  2. Cut and completely remove the root-maker bag from the trees.  If you have a balled & burlapped tree, do not remove the burlap after you put it in the planting hole.  Simply cut it away from the top.
  3. Plant the tree so that the top of the root ball is at or slightly above the surrounding soil level.  DO NOT COVER THE CROWN OF YOUR TREE’S TRUNK WITH DIRT.
  4. TAMP THE SOIL MIX  FIRMLY around the root ball, eliminating all air pockets.
  5. Make a deep basin of soil to retain water.  WATER DEEPLY & THOROUGHLY
  6. MULCH (but the mulch should not touch your tree’s trunk)
  7. DO NOT FERTILIZE your newly planted tree for at least one year.


A large tree probably needs to be staked for the first year.  This will keep the tree stable in our high spring winds, allowing it to establish a good root system in its new home.  We stake with 3 or 4 posts inserted at an angle around the planting bed.  Twine is used to attach major branches to the posts.  Before tying, thread a cut piece of garden hose beside the bark to protect it.  Do not forget to remove your stakes after the first season!


Newly planted trees must be watered thoroughly for the first five (5) days after planting.  This settles the soil and removes air pockets in the soil and from around the tree.  Supplemental watering is extremely important during the first two years, especially during times of high winds, high temperatures, and low rainfall.  If your tree does not get enough water, the overall health of the tree will be adversely affected.  The biggest problem facing your tree is the lack of water.  Your tree will exhibit certain signs when it has been under or over watered.

  • Symptoms of Under-watering:  Leaves are dry and crumble; they could be brown or light green.  Leaves voluntarily fall off.
  • Symptoms of Over-watering:  Leaves discolor but do not drop or come off easily.  Leaves do not crumble and will fold in your hand.

When does a tree need water?

Whenever the root ball is dry.  You can determine this by feeling the soil around the root ball to a depth of 3′-6′.  I dig a shovel deep and feel the soil.  If it is dry, then water thoroughly the entire root ball.

How much water is needed?

Your tree will require a thorough soaking at least once a week depending on the weather conditions.  Your tree is thoroughly soaked when the water has absorbed and starts to puddle around the root ball.  One rule of thumb is to give a newly planted tree 10 gallons of water per caliper each week.  Let the soil dry between each watering, especially clay soil.

How should I water the tree?

Trees prefer to be watered slowly and deeply.  The water should be about the width of a pencil when it leaves the hose.  Use a hand-held hose or a soaker hose and water directly onto the root ball area.  The easiest method is to lay a water hose 1-2 feet from the trunk.  Move the hose around the root ball area as it becomes thoroughly soaked.  You can also purchase slow-release water bags, such as Tree Gators.

If I use automatic sprinklers, how long should it be set?

During hot months, sprinklers with pop-up heads should be set for at least 20 minutes; rotary heads for 1 hour.  during cooler months, pop-up heads should be set for 15 minutes; rotary heads for 45 minutes. Do not rely on your sprinkler system alone to provide adequate water, especially during our hot summer months.


  • IN SANDY SOILS: When first planted, water every other day for 3 months.  Water twice a week for the next 3 months, then once a week or as needed.
  • IN CLAY SOILS: The first 3 months, water deeply twice a week from June to September and once a week the rest of the year.  After 3 months water once every 2 weeks or as needed.  Clay soils tend to hold water so be careful of letting your tree stand in water.  If you are unsure, dig in the tree’s bed to see whether or not the dirt is wet.

YELLOW LEAVES- too much water

BROWN LEAVES-not enough water




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