year after a young tree is planted is the most critical
time in its life. During this period you have the greatest
leverage on the future of the tree -- you have the
greatest impact on the tree's form, strength, and
vitality, all with the least difficulty and cost.
Immediately after planting
Prune out damaged branches from the newly-planted tree
loose bark from around any stem wounds, leaving rounded
(not pointed) corners.
pruning cuts must be made just outside the branch
collar. Further pruning should not be done until about a
year after planting, to give the tree an opportunity to
become established. Under no circumstances should any
newly-planted tree be topped or receive other major
Staking: There is
considerable disagreement about staking -- whether it
should be done at all, and if so how and with what
materials. The goal is to hold the root ball still (so
that new roots can become established), but to let the
trunk sway (promoting good trunk taper toward the base).
On trees that may be unstable during strong winds, set two
5- to 8-foot stakes (depending on the height of the tree)
firmly into the ground; do not drive the stakes through
the root ball. Use hose-padded 12-gauge wire to support
the tree, low enough to permit some swaying motion, and
only tight enough to prevent the tree from tipping.
Support wire should be removed within a year after
very important during the first few years of a tree's
life, particularly if it is a free-standing lawn tree. It
should be made of a coarsely chopped organic material, and
it should be applied no more than 3" deep -- never
piled up around the base of the tree. Mulch takes the
place of the layer of
leaf-litter on the forest floor, and its benefits to
the tree are many.
proper planting, proper pruning is the most important
element in having
good trees. After the tree's first growing season in
its permanent home, real
pruning starts. Remember not to remove more than about 1/5
of the live crown at any one time.
the leaves reach full size in the second full growing
planting, attack the tree's major problems, beginning
with the most serious.
by removing deadwood, damaged branches.
the weaker side of any fork in the main stem. Prune out
with "included bark," where the bark disappears down
into the crotch from both sides.
out limbs that are crossed or rubbing, recurrent (growing
center of the crown), or interfering with better branches
may be lopsided for a time after pruning work is done, but
vigorous tree will quickly fill in gaps in its crown,
and grow stem wood that
straightens out minor crooks and bends.
is the time when a tree's basic form is determined. Good
tools and skill
essential for good work, but the payback is immense. If
you doubt this,
imagine the effort and expense -- and the damage to the
tree -- that would be
the problems are allowed to grow for 20 years.