Trees can completely transform gardens. As well as looking beautiful, they can provide fruit, give children places to play and promote feelings of calm and wellbeing.
If you’ve recently planted a tree in your garden – congratulations! With a bit of nurture your tree should be with you for decades to come.
Trees come in countless different shapes, sizes and forms, but they all require the same basic care. Follow our guidelines to how to care for your newly planted tree to give it the best possible start in life.
Laying down roots
Newly planted trees will spend their first few years establishing a root system.
Trees grown in nurseries don’t have the extensive root systems of their naturally-seeded counterparts. When they’re dug up for transplanting, much of the root system they do have will be lost.
This means that if you want your newly planted tree to flourish, you need to help it generate new roots quickly.
Initially, root growth will be supported by energy stored in your tree’s trunk, branches and roots.
Continued root growth will depend on the leaves producing energy, especially in the first year after planting. For this reason pruning should be kept to a minimum.
Leave the top of your tree intact to allow rapid root development, removing only broken or damaged branches.
Trees are thirsty
Many people don’t realise that newly planted trees need regular watering for their first three to five years.
The more you water your tree – particularly in its first two years – the more likely it will be to survive. Once planted, it’s almost impossible to over-water a tree.
Water your tree at the beginning of the growing season (April or May) and throughout the summer.
A new tree should have around 30 litres of water per day in the spring and during any dry periods in the summer.
This amount can be reduced if there’s a lot of rain, but should be increased if it’s hot and sunny.
Give your tree a good watering in late autumn before the ground freezes. If the winter is mild, keep watering your tree periodically throughout.
Mulch it up
Mulching will help your tree retain water by reducing evaporation from the soil. It will also help prevent weeds, which compete with trees for water and nutrients.
Trees with mulch generally have around 20% more early growth than those where grass grows up to the trunk.
Mulch your tree with leaf mould or woodchip. It should be partially composted – six-month-old woodchip is perfect.
Before mulching, remove any weeds or grass growing close to your tree. Make sure the soil is damp.
Place the mulch in a mound around the base of your tree, about 1m in diameter and 10-15cm deep.
Leave space around the trunk to prevent the base of your tree from rotting or putting out roots above ground.
For more mulch info, check out this guide.
Keep it standing tall
A newly planted tree should be staked until its root system is large enough to adequately anchor it.
If not staked, a young tree’s root ball may become loose when the tree is blown by the wind. Stakes should be firm enough to prevent movement of the root ball.
Place your stake between the tree and the direction the wind is most likely to come from, so your tree pulls away from the stake rather than pushing against it.
Stake your tree close to the ground, around one third of the way up the trunk.
How to Care for Your Newly Planted Tree – a summary
Newly planted trees need looking after in their first few years – give yours the care and attention it deserves.
Mulch it, stake it and water it regularly, and it should flourish for years to come.
For more information on how to care for your newly planted tree or if you’re looking for a tree surgeon in West London please do get in touch.