Moving landscaping trees from their original comfort zone to a new location causes a great deal of stress on the plants. Transplant shock is common, and trees can lose up to 90 percent of their root systems. Root loss can lead to an increased vulnerability to drought, disease, insects and other growth problems.
Fortunately, with proper care, you can head off these issues and maintain the health of your newly-planted trees.
Water is crucial for recently transplanted trees. Until the roots have a chance to extend deeply into the existing soil, regular watering of the root ball at the trunk is imperative – and an automated lawn sprinkler system won’t suffice.
For the first two to three years after planting, trees require consistent soil moisture. The amount of rainfall in your area and the nature of your soil dictate how often you need to water.
You will know it’s time to water when the root ball is dry. Check this by digging gently or by using a soil probe.
Mulching can also help your new landscaping or shade trees make the transition from the nursery to your landscape. Mulch helps regulate soil temperature, retain soil moisture and keeps weeds from growing. And, as mulch breaks down, it acts as a slow-release fertilizer, providing a growing medium for the trees.
After planting a new tree, apply a three- to four-inch layer of organic mulch from the base to past the drip line, or the end of the branches.
Take care to keep the mulch several inches away from the trunk, however. Placing mulch too close to the trunk holds in too much moisture and heat, which makes an ideal breeding ground for pests and diseases.
Many young trees are fragile, but staking can help prevent leaning and uprooting until the roots have stabilized in the soil. Be careful not to stake too tightly – a bit of flexibility lets the flare at the base of your new landscaping trees develop naturally. In most cases, stakes can be removed after the first full growing season.
Pruning your new landscaping trees should be limited to removing only the dead, diseased or broken branches. Wait at least a year before pruning larger branches or attempting to shape the tree limbs, or you may inhibit critical growth.
Be sure to inspect your newly-planted trees regularly for insect damage. As new leaves grow, check both sides for signs of pests. Young trees need all of their foliage to generate food, so be sure to address any problems promptly.
What about fertilizer? With most tree varieties, it’s better to hold off for two to three years, as fertilizing isn’t that effective until the root systems have become well established in the soil.
Millcreek Gardens, Salt Lake City’s favorite garden center since 1955, offers a wide selection of outdoor plants perfectly suited to our Northern Utah soil and climate conditions. Visit us today for all of your indoor and outdoor plant and shrub needs. Our friendly staff is happy to provide all the advice you need to grow beautiful, healthy landscaping trees.