Improving The Health Of Our Trees

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5 Care Tips For Second Year Trees

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A regular maintenance plan begins for newly planted saplings in the second spring after planting, after the trees have begun to establish their roots in the soil. That second year can be the most labor-intensive in terms of regular maintenance, but the reward is a healthy and easier-to-care-for tree in the future.

1. Structural Pruning

The first pruning of a young tree focuses on developing a strong structure that will support the tree throughout its life. A main central leader branch is selected and the remaining vertical branches are pruned out so they don't compete. The crown is then thinned to just the strongest lateral branches so that the branching structure of the tree will develop a symmetrical and balanced form.

2. Support Stakes

Trees are often staked at planting to help them develop a strong, straight trunk. Unfortunately, the stake and ties can damage a tree if they aren't adjusted or removed in the second year. Trees that are strongly rooted and not in danger of leaning can have their support stakes removed in the spring or summer. Those that need support for another year or two will need the tree tie on the stake adjusted so it doesn't constrict or pull on the trunk.

3. Tree Fertilizer

Many of the nutrients have been used out of the soil during the tree's first year of growth. Replenishing these nutrients is a must if you want the tree to continue to put forth strong new roots and branches. You can apply a general-purpose tree fertilizer in early spring, or you can have a soil test performed to determine the exact nutrient deficiencies in the soil and apply a custom fertilizer blend to meet these needs. Your tree care service can provide guidance on the best option.

4. Mulch Ring

Water continues to be one of the more important needs of a quickly-growing young tree. Mulching is one of the best ways to help retain the moisture in the soil and prevent rapid evaporative loss. Apply mulch in a thick layer, spreading it out to a distance several feet from the trunk. The mulch shouldn't set right against the trunk, as this can cause bark rot.

5. Water Management

Although mulch helps, good watering practices must begin in spring. A second-year tree should be watered about once a month when there is minimal natural precipitation in that time period. How much water is needed depends on the amount of precipitation received and the species of tree, but several gallons are typically needed.

For more information on tree care, contact a professional near you.