Caring For Young Trees — Tips From Your Tacoma Tree Care Specialist

August 30, 2019

When most homeowners think of their yard care responsibilities, they typically think of mulching, mowing, watering, and planting flowers. It is really not that often that people think about taking care of their trees. While trees are generally easy to maintain, with little-to-no maintenance required, there are some trees that you have to care for as you would a houseplant or a flowering bush — and of course, we are talking about young trees. 

Like any plant, trees take time to become established — meaning that you might have to care for your younger trees for some time before you can go back to moving and watering the yard once a week. As a local tree arborist, here in the Tacoma area, we thought that we might discuss the extent and longevity of caring for young trees.

Keep reading to learn how to keep your young trees growing healthy!

After Planting: Year 1

When you plant one or more young trees in your yard, it is important that you monitor them. Like most other living things, trees are susceptible to shock and can take some time to adjust to their new environment. Because of this, it is best to let the tree sit for three to four days after planting it instead of immediately beginning to prune, water, and adjust it. 

  • Three Days After Planting – Fill the small basin around the tree with 15-20 gallons of water three separate times. It is important to use enough water so that it seeps deep into the root system. 
  • For the Next Four Weeks – After the initial watering, you want to water the tree once a week using 5-10 gallons of water. This will keep the newly developing roots from drying out. 
  • For The Rest Of The First Year – Now that the young tree is starting to become established, you can roll back your watering schedule to 10-15 gallons every other week. 

Year 2

Now that your young tree has been in the ground for over a year and has survived through the four seasons, it is time to shift to a responsive watering schedule rather than a proactive one. Now, it is only necessary for you to water the tree in times of drought — giving the tree 1-20 gallons of water every two to four weeks. 

Years 3-5

Now that your young tree is healthy and established, you just want to give it more water for purposes of growth. Consider watering your tree once a month with up to 20 gallons of water. As the tree nears the five-year mark of it being in the ground, you can begin to experiment with the intervals that you choose to water it — only watering it extensively when it shows signs of stress.  

When Should You Start Trimming a Young Tree?

Planting a new tree is exciting, and even though watering is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that the roots establish quickly and the tree grows strong and healthy, another incredibly important part of helping a young tree grow is trimming.

When you first plant a tree, the priority is to ensure that the roots get established and that the tree can survive a few cycles of all four seasons. Other than giving it plenty of water, as well as making sure the roots get plenty of oxygen, you’ll need to look for signs of stress and that the trunk of the tree is free of pests. Keep a close eye on the tree for the first three to four years before starting any trimming.

Years Three to Four

Around the three or four-year mark, you’ll want to start looking for root suckers, which may appear around the base of the trunk, and for tree sprouts that develop throughout the crown. Both of these can be harmful to the structure of the tree and should be cut back as soon as they appear. If the root suckers are not trimmed, they will pull valuable nutrients from the main tree trunk and can eventually cause structural issues. When some sprouts in the crown are not cut back, it can impact the form of the tree as it matures.

Trimming back sprouts in years three and four will ensure that the more dominant branches get the light and nutrients they need. Trimming back sprouts or codominant branches is a proactive way to ensure that the overall form of the tree is healthy and aesthetically pleasing.

Years Five to Seven

Any limbs that are growing toward the bottom of the tree may be removed so that a healthy trunk can develop. The lowest branch should be around five feet from the ground. Higher up in the crown, some smaller branches can be cut back to help maintain the overall outline and form of the tree, as well as to provide ample light to other branches.

15 Years and Beyond

With years of proper tree trimming, your tree has a sturdy trunk, branches that are well developed and strong, and a pleasant outline. Any further trimming is just to remove dead or damaged limbs that can pose a threat to people or belongings if a storm were to pass through.

Tree trimming requires a professional eye to ensure that it’s done correctly and won’t cause harm to the tree rather than good. For all of your tree care needs in the Tacoma area, contact Apex Tree Experts.

Have More Questions? Contact Us Today!

At Apex Tree Experts, we love trees. So if you have questions about how you can provide better care to your younger, developing trees, we would be happy to help. Additionally, if you don’t have the time to take care of your young trees, you can always contact us to schedule a tree care treatment!

So what are you waiting for? Contact us to get a free quote today!