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After planting trees, there are a few short and long term things you can do to care for and protect your investment.


Short Term Watering Needs - Immediately after planting trees make sure to give them a good, deep soaking. Continue to check soil moisture closely (using the finger test) for a month or so after planting and water as needed to keep soil around root ball moist, but not wet. Watering trees that are trying to establish themselves too much can cause damaging root rot, so be careful not to overwater. Trees that prefer moisture-retentive soils, such as Riverbirch and Weeping Willow may require more frequent watering to become established and therefore should be watched more closely.

NOTE: Trees planted while dormant (during the winter months) will not require nearly as much attention to watering. The evaporation process slows down tremendously during the cold season and trees are not actively growing so will not soak up nearly as much water.

NOTE: Some trees, particularly Riverbirch, have a habit of partially and sometime even fully defoliating (dropping leaves) after planting. This is usually caused from "transplant shock" or too little water. If the right steps are taken, 99 time out of a hundred, the tree will leaf back out and continue to grow as normal. In the event that a tree defoliates soon after planting, first check to see if the tree is alive. Do so by rubbing a very small section of the bark off of a branch using a coin or knife. If the underbark is green, your tree is still alive. Now, check the soil for moisture. If the soil is wet do not water the tree again until new leaves have begun to emerge. As soon as the new leaves begin to emerge you can resume normal watering as described above.

Long Term Watering Needs - It usually takes a few months of warm weather with adequate rainfall or watering, and proper planting technique and fertilization, for a tree to establish itself by "rooting in". Once "rooted in", a tree will not require near the attention to watering. Only water established trees during extended hot and dry periods, or when you observe wilting of new growth (new foliage). The best method for watering an established tree during a drought is by use of a soaker hose or drip irrigation. Lay the soaker hose on the ground in a circle underneath the perimeter of the tree's canopy (branch spread) - this is where the feeder roots will be - and soak for several hours. Do this once or twice a week until rainfall occurs.



Mulching can reduce environmental stress by providing trees with a stable root environment that is cooler and contains more moisture than the surrounding soil. Mulch can also prevent mechanical damage by keeping machines such as lawn mowers and string trimmers away from the tree’s base.

To be most effective in all of these functions, wood mulch or pinestraw should be spread 2 to 3 inches deep and cover the entire root system, which usually extends just beyond branch spread of the tree. If the area and activities happening around the tree do not permit the entire area to be mulched, it is recommended that you mulch as much of the area under the drip line of the tree as possible.

CAUTION: When placing mulch, care should be taken not to cover the actual trunk of the tree. This mulch-free area, 1 to 2 inches wide at the base, is sufficient to avoid moist bark conditions and prevent trunk decay. Plastic should not be used over the root systems of trees or shrubs because it interferes with the exchange of gases and water between soil and air, which inhibits root growth. Thicker mulch layers, 5 to 6 inches deep or greater, may also inhibit these exchanges.



Fertilization is another important aspect of tree care. Trees require certain nutrients (essential elements) to function and grow. Urban landscape trees can be growing in soils that do not contain sufficient available nutrients for satisfactory growth and development. In these situations, it may be necessary to fertilize to improve plant vigor.

Fertilizing a tree can improve growth; however, if fertilizer is not applied wisely, it may not benefit the tree at all and may even adversely affect the tree.

NOTE: Mature trees making satisfactory growth may not require fertilization. When considering supplemental fertilizer, it is important to know which nutrients are needed and when and how they should be applied.

Soil conditions, especially pH and organic matter content, vary greatly, sometimes making the proper selection and use of fertilizer is a somewhat complex process. When dealing with a mature tree that provides considerable benefit and value to your landscape, it is worth the time and investment to have the soil tested for nutrient content. Any arborist can arrange to have your soil tested at a soil testing laboratory and can give advice on application rates, timing, and the best blend of fertilizer for each of your trees.

Mature trees have expansive root systems that extend from 2 to 3 times the size of the leaf canopy. A major portion of actively growing roots is located outside the tree’s drip line. It is important to understand this fact when applying fertilizer to your trees as well as your turf.

CAUTION: Many lawn fertilizers contain weed and feed formulations that may be harmful to your trees. When you apply a broadleaf herbicide to your turf, remember that tree roots coexist with turf roots. The same herbicide that kills broadleaf weeds in your lawn is picked up by tree roots and can harm or kill your broadleaf trees if applied incorrectly.

Understanding the actual size and extent of a tree’s root system before you fertilize is necessary to determine how much, what type, and where to best apply fertilizer.

TIP: When planting a tree we always use Agriform Fertilizer Tablets. Agriform Tablets will slowly release over a period of 18 to 24 months. We use 1 tablet per 1/2" caliper of the tree. The caliper of a tree is the diameter of the trunk at 12" above ground level. After planting a tree, we push the tablets about 3 inches down in the soil half-way between the perimeter of the root ball and the perimeter of the hole that was dug to plant the tree.



Pruning is the most common tree maintenance procedure next to watering. Pruning trees is often desirable or necessary to remove dead, diseased, or insect-infested branches and to improve tree structure, enhance vigor, or maintain safety. Major pruning of trees should be performed during winter when the tree is totally dormant. Because each cut has the potential to change the growth of (or cause damage to) a tree, no major branch should be removed without a reason.

The tree that is pruned incorrectly most often is the Crape Myrtle. Most people unknowingly cut them back way too far. That's why we included a page on this site that shows how to properly prune a crape myrtle.

Be careful how many limbs you remove from any tree. Removing limbs is removing foliage. Removing too much foliage from a tree has two distinct effects on its growth. Removing leaves reduces photosynthesis and may reduce overall growth. That is why pruning should always be performed sparingly. Overpruning is extremely harmful because without enough leaves, a tree cannot gather and process enough sunlight to survive. Understanding how the tree responds to pruning should assist you when selecting branches for removal.

Pruning mature trees may require special equipment, training, and expertise. If the pruning work requires climbing, the use of a chain or hand saw, or the removal of large limbs, then using personal safety equipment, such as protective eyewear and hearing protection, is a must.

Arborists can provide a variety of services to assist in performing the job safely and reducing risk of personal injury and damage to your property. They also are able to determine which type of pruning is necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance, and safety of your trees.


Tree Inspection

Tree inspection is an evaluation tool to call attention to any change in the tree’s health before the problem becomes too serious. By providing regular inspections of mature trees at least once a year, you can prevent or reduce the severity of future disease, insect, and environmental problems. During tree inspection, be sure to examine four characteristics of tree vigor: new leaves or buds, leaf size, twig growth, and absence of crown dieback (gradual death of the upper part of the tree).

A reduction in the extension of shoots (new growing parts), such as buds or new leaves, is a fairly reliable cue that the tree’s health has recently changed. To evaluate this factor, compare the growth of the shoots over the past three years. Determine whether there is a reduction in the tree’s typical growth pattern.

Further signs of poor tree health are trunk decay, crown dieback, or both. These symptoms often indicate problems that began several years before. Loose bark or deformed growths, such as trunk conks (mushrooms), are common signs of stem decay.

Any abnormalities found during these inspections, including insect activity and spotted, deformed, discolored, or dead leaves and twigs, should be noted and watched closely.

If you have many large, mature trees on your property you might want to consider having a certified arborist do a yearly check on them. .

Diseases - Disease organisms can affect trees. The trees that we often recommend and that are listed on this site have been noted for their resistance to diseases. For instance, the 'Fauriei Hybrid' Crape Myrtles (having indian names such as 'Tonto' and 'Natchez') are far more resistant to powdery mildew than are other older varieties.

Insects - Except for the Asian Ambrosia beetle, which has claimed the lives of a few young Yoshino and Kwansan cherry trees, most insect problems we've identified in our area have not been life threatening to trees. Probably the most common insects are aphids and the Japanese beetles. Neither do irreparable damage to healthy trees.


If you have any questions regarding trees, need more information or would like to place an order please feel free to call us at 678-677-5931 Steven Whatley - Sales manager


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Since 1984, Wilson Bros Landscape has specialized in residential and commercial landscape design and installation services.
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