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TreeHelp.com Home > Planting a tree > Water, Mulch and Fertilizer  

Planting A Tree  a step-by-step guide
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Introduction
Choosing a Tree
Types of Trees
When to Plant
How to Plant a Tree
Water, Mulch, Fertilizer
Staking and Guy Wiring
Wrapping and Pruning
Transplanting Trees
Conclusion


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Water, Mulch and Fertilizer

Watering

Newly planted trees should be watered at the time of planting. In addition, during the first growing season, they should be watered at least once a week in the absence of rain, more often during the height of the summer. However, care should be taken not to overwater as this may result in oxygen deprivation.

If you are uncertain as to whether a tree needs watering, dig down 6-8 inches at the edge of the planting hole. If the soil at that depth feels powdery or crumbly, the tree needs water. Adequately moistened soil should form a ball when squeezed.

Regular deep soakings are better than frequent light wettings. Moisture should reach a depth of 12 to 18 inches below the soil surface to encourage ideal root growth.

One new way to ensure a constant supply of moisture is through the use of superabsorbent polymer crystals that absorb moisture when the surrounding soil is moist, and release it again when the soil dries out. 

Mulching

To conserve moisture and promote water and air penetration, the back filled soil surrounding newly-planted trees can be covered with mulch consisting of material such as bark, wood chips or pine needles (although the acidity associated with pine needles is not suited for many plants). Mulch depth should be between 3 to 4 inches. Do not, under any circumstances, cover the area surrounding the tree with plastic sheeting since air and water movement are prevented. Porous landscape fabric can be used since it freely allows water and air penetration.

Fertilizer

Since all soils have a history, it can be beneficial to get soil analyzed properly for macronutrients such as Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K), micronutrients, pH, soil type, and drainage. Although many trees survive without fertilizer at time of planting, the majority of plants suffer root loss and stress associated with movement between ideal nursery grown conditions and the final planting.  

To compensate for root loss during planting and to alleviate transplant shock, treat your trees with mycorrhizal fungi and fertilizers with the right formulation for the type of tree you are planting.  A biostimulant can also aid in root development and general tree health.

Next: Staking and Guy Wiring

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