Trees are so majestic and even symbolic. The symbolism I’ve always loved about trees is the idea of the “tree of life.” After all, trees really are givers of life. Not only do they illuminate nature with a bold beauty, but they’re also integral because they provide us with oxygen, store carbon dioxide, add stability to our soil and provide homes for birds and other wildlife.  

So when you’re planning landscaping for a wide open space, whether it’s commercial property or your home’s yard, trees are essential. When you’re planting new trees, it can take a few years for them to become fully established, so they require some special care.  

Here are some tips you can keep in mind for your fledgling trees:

  • Check the depth: Remember that like us, trees are living things and can drown in too much water. Specifically, when roots are surrounded by too much water, they’re unable to absorb the oxygen the tree needs. To help avoid this, make sure the tree is planted at the proper depth.
  • Mulch: Place a healthy amount of mulch around young trees. It helps both retain moisture and protect the fibrous roots from the elements.
  • Fertilize: Use a balanced NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) fertilizer, based on a soil sample. You can buy a testing kit at your local nursery or garden centre. Fertilize every year in the spring and early fall to ensure vigorous growth and prevent deficiencies in the soil’s nutrients. Deep root feeding, a process that involves creating small 18-inch-deep holes in the ground around your tree, is the most effective long-term fertilizing technique.
  • Water carefully: It’s best to water young trees at a slow pace to ensure the entire root ball gets wet. Then wait a day or two before watering again to allow the roots to breathe.
  • Don’t rush to a tree injection: Injecting chemicals, like fertilizer or pesticides, into the tree’s trunk can be effective in larger trees, but should only be used as a last resort for serious life-threatening conditions.  

Pruning

Pruning is another important factor in keeping a tree healthy and aesthetically pleasing. There are many rules to keep in mind when pruning, so it deserves its own section of tips: 

  • Prune in the fall or winter: This gives the tree the entire spring to recover before the summer heat rolls in. Do not prune in the early spring because that’s when the sap is flowing from the roots to branches, and pruning would rob the tree of essential nutrients.
  • Remove dead and damaged branches first: This prevents disease and reduces the number of insects that can move on to the healthy parts of the tree.
  • Remove branches that are crossing or rubbing: These branches will eventually grow into each other, which can damage and break them.
  • Trim to your tastes: This isn’t a rule, exactly, but once you’ve removed dead, damaged, crossed or rubbing branches, you’re free to use your artistic eye. Although it’s best to try to remove the oldest branches first.
  • Save the living branches: Do not remove more than ⅓ of the living branches.
  • Assess at least every two years: How often you prune depends on the species, but pruning should be considered on all trees every two years.  

Keep these tips in mind to keep your “trees of life” full of life, and protect your investment!