Planting a new tree can be such an exciting time. In the best cases, this new tree will provide decades of benefits. With improper care, however, saplings rarely last more than a year or two. This month we’ll talk about the differences between new and mature trees, when to plant trees, and how to care for them once you do. If you ever have any questions or need tree service in Toms River, Waretown, Manahawkin or any town in Ocean and Monmouth counties, contact us anytime.
Saplings Versus Mature Trees
Aside from size, there are many differences between a sapling and a tall, mature tree. For one, size isn’t all about trunk and canopy height. It also has a lot to do with the root system. Young trees have a smaller root system which grows and spreads as the tree ages. In nature, new trees are able to use the assistance of other trees to obtain nutrients and resources because their roots do not extend very far to find water and other necessities. However, if you are planting a new tree on your property, it generally stands alone. Without the support system of other trees, saplings often struggle. The first few years of a tree’s life might be the most important. Mature trees rarely need regular intervention. Rather, they usually only need tree service if there is damage or pests. Saplings on the other hand, need steady attention.
When to Plant Trees
Most shrubs, bushes, and trees do best when planted during their non-growing season. This means early spring and fall are the best times of year to plant a new tree. In the spring, the dormant season is any time prior to budding. For deciduous trees, after the leaves have fallen in the autumn is the best time to plant. Planting in the fall gives the tree a full season of growth before the heat and other stresses of summer. During this “dormant” season, the tree doesn’t actually shut down completely, but rather, drastically slow their growth. This allows young trees to focus on what they need to which is growing their root system.
How to Care for Newly Planted Trees
Caring for saplings is very different than caring for aged trees. It can be tempting to fertilize early and often for any new plant. For trees, however, fertilizing saplings is not recommended and, in fact, can be very harmful and stunt their growth. The first two years of a tree’s life should be focused on building strong roots. As so much of the tree’s energy needs to go to root building, it is unable to expend a lot of energy on growing leaves and branches. Giving fertilizer to young trees forces the tree to expend too much energy on canopy growth. Funneling this energy towards top-growth too soon takes energy away from root growth. Although you may not see the results for a few years, weak roots can kill trees. If your sapling seems to be struggling, give us a call before you reach for the fertilizer!
Watering a new tree is as important as it is for any new plant. When it is first planted, daily watering is recommended. As the weeks pass, you can reduce your watering to every few days to once a week. If you planted during a rainy season, precipitation may be enough water for the tree to survive. Be careful not to overwater as that can kill a tree just as fast as not giving it enough water.
The Proper Way to Use Mulch Around a Tree
There is one correct way and many incorrect ways to apply mulch around the base of your trees. No matter the age, you never want mulch to touch the bark or trunk of a tree. There should be a few inches to a foot of space between a trunk and your mulch.
One of the most dangerous mulching techniques is called volcano mulching. This is harmful to a tree for a few reasons. One, because mulch is so insulating, using too much mulch too close to a tree can actually inhibit the uptake of resources rather than preserve them. Two, allowing the bark and trunk of a tree to get and remain wet can lead to pest infestations, diseases, and cracked, unhealthy bark. Bark is a trees way of defending itself against many things and having a chink in that armor is never a good thing. Lastly, volcano mulching can cause roots to grow in a circle around the tree rather than spreading out into the soil. Weak roots mean weak trees.
Once Your Tree is Established, We Take Over Your Tree Service in Toms River
After a few years, most trees can be termed established. Once a tree can sustain it’s growth on it’s own, we can take over from there. Mature trees planted in yards often need care every few years. Whether that tree service in Toms River is pruning or trimming or diagnosing diseases or pests, we can help. For all the best advice on how to select, plant, and care for a new tree in your yard, contact us today!