How to Care for a Newly Planted Tree or Shrub

How to Care for a Newly Planted Tree or Shrub


A newly planted tree should be watered approximately once every 2-4 days by soaking the tree canopy drip zone using a sprinkler or due to area or budget constraints by filling a water basin.

Optimum Tree Growth will occur if you mulch the tree canopy zone or basin with organics or wood chips to a depth of 4 to 6 inches, leaving a bare 4-inch to 6 inch area directly around the trunk.

(The ideal tree planting site is a mulched site, with a radius of 20 feet which is the potential reach of a small tree roots during the first growing season. Soak this zone once per week until the soil is saturated.)

If you have any doubts then check the soils moisture content. Push aside the mulch, and grab a handful of soil. If it is soaking wet then decrease water.  If your soil is just moist to dry then it is time to water.

The Soil Secrets products, TerraPro / Protein Crumblies, may be applied anytime, normally twice annually. These products inoculate your soil with beneficial soil bacteria and mycorrhizae fungi, and much needed beneficial bacteria and provide plant available mineral nutrients. The beneficial mycorrhizae fungi help plants acquire water and nutrients making your landscape stronger and more drought tolerant in the long run. TerraPro is carbon and there is no toxicity point to carbon.  If your soils are awful and you are in doubt use more than the label rate.  Nothing else can do what carbon, beneficial microbes and mycorrhizae do!!!!

  • TTP Supreme Compost

TTP Supreme Compost can also be used, as it is a great organic form of nutrients that remain available to plants in the soil for a greater time than inorganic sources of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Many of these inorganic sources are water soluble and are carried deeper into the soil and away from the roots with each watering. It is best to avoid chemical fertilizers for this reason. Compost feeding can be done by direct application to the mulch beds around plants and then thoroughly watered in. All fertilizers chemical or organic need to be used properly as too much of even a good thing like our TTP Supreme Compost can cause burn and can cause plants to lose their relationship with the mycorrhizae. Feed with compost twice annually, in spring and fall.

  • Winter Watering

As trees go dormant (deciduous trees lose leaves) decrease watering frequency from 7 to 14 to 21 day intervals. Water when able in the winter (i.e. when the ground is not frozen). Young trees / shrubs must be watered during the winter to prevent the root ball from drying out which may result in death of your tree. Winter watering should be done approximately once every 3-4 weeks by soaking the tree canopy drip zone using a sprinkler or by filling the watering basin.  Make sure the plant is not soaking in wet mud all winter long which can cause rot. Moist soils not wet are the rule!

  • Pruning

Resist the urge to prune and shape during the first season unless there are dead or misshapen branches. Leaving these branches on the plant helps to support growth of new roots and shoots. Pruning can be done during dormancy after the first growing season or anytime (season) thereafter. Winter pruning often increases vigor.

  • Staking

Trees planted in high wind areas may require staking. In general, stake your tree loosely on 2 or 3 sides. This allows trunk movement which helps build its strength.  Make sure the tree does not rub or bang against the staking!

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About Amanda Melendrez

Hi there! I'm Amanda Melendrez and I am crazy about plants and soil health! I am the daughter of the world renowned Horticulturist and Soil Scientist and the owner of Trees That Please and Soil Secrets, Michael M. Melendrez. Learn how to grow anything, no matter where you live. The mission of this blog is to spread the joy and knowledge of home gardening, agriculture and innovative soil health solutions.