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Little Known or Interesting Factoids About Trees and Tree Physiology

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                     Jim Rediker - Nurseryman -  Arborist  - TDA Certified
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The first 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 you should:

  • Prune out damaged branches from the newly-planted tree

  • Trim loose bark from around any stem wounds, leaving rounded (not pointed) corners.

  • All 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 pruning.

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 planting.


Mulch is 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.


After 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

preventive pruning starts. Remember not to remove more than about 1/5 of the live crown at any one time.


Soon after the leaves reach full size in the second full growing season after planting, attack the tree's major problems, beginning with the most serious.


Start by removing deadwood, damaged branches.


Eliminate the weaker side of any fork in the main stem. Prune out branches with "included bark," where the bark disappears down into the crotch from both sides.


Prune out limbs that are crossed or rubbing, recurrent (growing back toward

the center of the crown), or interfering with better branches nearby.


The tree may be lopsided for a time after pruning work is done, but a healthy, vigorous tree will quickly fill in gaps in its crown, and grow stem wood that

straightens out minor crooks and bends.


This is the time when a tree's basic form is determined. Good tools and skill

are 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

involved if the problems are allowed to grow for 20 years.  


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Contact: cell: 830.257.8871
                     Jim Rediker - Nurseryman -  Arborist  - TDA Certified

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