Caring for Your Tree
- Do not wait for trees and shrubs to look dry before watering.
- Slowly water your tree 10 gallons per week per inch of tree caliper. Caliper is the diameter of the trunk six inches from the ground.
- Watering at the drip line, or where the leaves would drip rain water into the soil, will ensure the roots will get as much of the water as possible.
- A small hole punched in a 5-gallon bucket or clean gallon container of water is an excellent slow-drip watering method.
- Mulch around the tree base will help absorb the water and hold it to release into the soil.
- Watering bags enable tree owners to add the water so it can slowly be released into the soil. However, you must check the watering bag to see if water needs to be added.
- Practice water conservation in your home so your trees can benefit from the extra water. Click here for conservation tips from Metro Water.
- Write yourself a reminder to schedule watering and to watch the weather for rainfall or lack thereof.
Using mulch is one of the best things you can do for your tree. Pine needles, grass clippings, shredded bark, or wood chips placed over the soil helps to retain moisture, minimize weeds, and improve soil conditions. Spread a layer three to four inches deep. and leave a ring of open space around the trunk so that mulch doesn’t touch it.
Prune your tree sparingly, and never “top” it. Topping creates weak, poorly attached sprouts that grow quickly and break off easily. Topping also leaves ugly stubs that are vulnerable to insects and disease. Instead, use the “branch collar” pruning method. Cut the limb close to the main trunk but leave a small “collar” of the branch sticking up. This will allow the tree to heal more quickly. Properly sharpened tools also help the tree heal quicker.
Don’t prune every year. Thin top branches every three to five years, and remove dead or damaged limbs whenever you see them. Do major trimming after the coldest part of winter is past, except for trees that flower in the spring: these do best when pruned after their blooms drop.