Tree care is not difficult, but unfortunately there is quite a bit of incorrect information out there about how best to care for a tree in an urban setting. Simply getting good information will get you off on the right foot to caring for your tree.
Research a Good Tree Care for the Location
The number one reason that non-forest trees die is that they were planted in a location that was not suitable for them. “Not suitable” can mean many things: it could be that there was not enough light, or the soil was too acidic, or it was compacted, several other variables.
You can research this yourself, if you are inclined, or you can draw a small map of the location you want to plant a tree in, noting the distance to other plantings, buildings, fences, overhead lines or underground obstructions like power, gas or sewer lines. Also note whether the area gets shade, and if so, how much. If you know your type of soil, that’s good. If not, put a little bit in a plastic bag and take it, and your diagram, down to a nursery to consult a specialist there.
Buy a Healthy Tree
Some people can take a sickly specimen and help it flourish, but if you want to give your tree the best chance, get a healthy specimen. This is especially important because transplanting trees is very stressful to them. It is a shock adjusting to new soil. Therefore, the more vigorous a tree you start with, the more likely it will survive and thrive.
Protect Your Tree
Although it is common to see young trees that are staked, it is not actually best practice to stake a tree. Staking it discourages it from developing a stiff trunk and strong root system. Instead, it focuses on growing higher.
It is best to mulch around the base of the tree, extending out at least as far as the drip line. This will discourage weeds, keep the soil moist, and protect the tree from damage.
Trees drink a lot of water, but you must not water each evening, as that moisture will not penetrate the soil very deeply, and will not encourage roots to forage deeply. Instead, every week or two weeks, depending on rainfall, water deeply for at least 20 minutes on a low flow, thoroughly soaking the soil and the mulch.
With these tips, you will be well on your way to a healthy tree that will grace your yard for years to come!