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Trees add value and beauty to any property, but they also need proper care to thrive. Whether it is to ensure they are healthy, or prevent damage from storms and the elements, caring for your trees will help them last a lifetime.

Proper planting is the first step in reducing maintenance needs. Make sure the space you plant a tree in has enough room for its height and width – this will reduce root damage to sidewalks, patios and roads. Also check the tree is planted in a location that gets the right amount of sunlight.

After planting, water the tree tree care frequently – but don’t overwater. Young trees need to go through a period of shock and may look wilted during this time, but if you water too much they can drown. Instead, use drip irrigation systems or a garden hose that delivers water slowly to the ground over a long period of time. Aim to water the soil about 1 foot out from the base of the trunk. This will avoid the bacterial and fungal diseases that can spread through splashing water.

A good mulch layer will keep the soil around your tree moist, but not soaking wet. Mulch will also help suppress weeds, which compete for resources with your tree and can sap it of nutrients. A 2 to 3 inch layer of organic material is ideal – ideally, something that breaks down quickly. Avoid using rock or gravel, which can scratch or jar the roots of young trees.

Careful formative pruning is another tool to help your new trees grow strong. Prune out competing leading shoots, and remove suckers (suckers are new branches that grow low to the ground). This will force your tree to use its energy on more vital branches. In addition, a trained ISA Certified Arborist can spot problems like discolored leaves or cankers, and can provide early intervention to avoid costly or hazardous conditions.

Consider wind patterns when planning your trees – a strong wind can easily pull or break the tops off young ones. Stakes and wind wraps can help secure the canopy in the event of a severe storm.

Pest control is another important tool in maintaining the health of your trees. Applying a dormant oil in spring, along with fertilizer and an anti-desiccant spray, helps decrease the risk of early insect infestations. An annual inspection by a trained ISA Certified Arborist will also allow for early detection of potential problems, and can help prevent serious damage before it occurs.

Weeding is also critical – keep the area around your new trees free of weeds and grass to reduce competition for resources. Keeping a 1 meter circle clear of weeds and grass will help your young trees to establish a stronger, healthier root system.