It's rare that you rely on tiny seedling to provide you with the trees you need in your landscape. Instead, most people purchase young trees from a nursery that are already several feet tall, but still small enough to be easily transplanted into a yard.
The first few months after transplant are a critical time for your new trees. Trees of this size are not inexpensive, and while they may seem to be doing fine, a lot can happen to thwart a tree's path to maturity during and immediately after planting. Here's what you need to know about caring for your tree during and after transplant to make sure it has the best start possible.
Use Professional Installation
A young tree may seem fragile above the surface, but the root ball that comes wrapped in plastic or burlap is another story. This root ball can sometimes weight hundreds of pounds, and it can make the tree challenging to maneuver properly.
You should rely on professionals to install the tree into place. It's too easy to damage a young tree by snapping delicate branches or by scraping the bark as you fight it into place. Most tree services can use skid steers or small tree trucks to lower a tree gently into the hole without injury to the plant or to anyone else.
Even small scrapes to the bark or a simple snapped branch can be devastating for a tree. These become weak points that the tree needs to heal, but directly after transplant, trees have little resources to give toward healing wounds. They have to expand their root system and recover from the overall stress of transplant.
Professionals also know how to correctly straighten and stake (if needed) a tree so that it will continue to grow normally. If you set a tree crookedly, it will eventually develop a bend in the trunk and have an uncorrectable misshapen appearance.
Provide Enough Water
Water is a tree's biggest need after transplant. You might have chosen a drought-resistant tree to help conserve water in your landscape, but even young trees that can get by on less water will need more at the beginning to get established.
If the ground around the tree is not moist, the roots will take longer to spread and knit into the ground. Hard, dry ground is more difficult for new roots to penetrate, so your tree may also not develop the strong roots needed to help anchor the tree against storms and dry weather.
The best way to water a new tree is with a drip system. This way, the ground around the tree stays moist, and you still conserve water by avoiding wasteful run-off from dumping a large amount of water on the tree only once or twice a day. A drip system provides almost constant moisture that sinks deep into the soil instead of evaporating off in the heat of the day.
Spread drip hoses or emitters wide enough to moisten the area covered by the tree canopy. Fertilize the tree according to the instructions of the tree service or nursery, but do not overdo it. Too much of a good thing can also stunt root growth.
Protect Against Pests
The other threat to your tree during the first few months after transplant is attacks from pests. Rabbits, gophers, and other ground dwellers like to eat the sweet, young bark from new trees. With significant bark loss, your tree becomes open to infection and cannot transport needed nutrients up and down the trunk. Your tree will slowly die.
For protection, purchase tree guards made of heavy plastic, and wrap them loosely around the trunk. You can also prevent insect damage by spraying for common insects that may attack your type of tree in particular.
For more information, contact us at Bill's Tree Care & Landscape, Inc.