Tree Care Tips

These comprehensive tree care tips will guide you through the process of selecting, planting, and caring for the right tree for your space.


It’s important to remember that proper tree care starts when you select a tree. And what you do to your tree in its first few years of life will affect its shape, strength, and even its lifespan. Following these steps will make sure your tree gets a good start for a healthy life.

Choosing the Right Type of Tree

Proper tree care begins with selecting the right tree and planting it in the right place. Make sure your tree will thrive — especially once fully grown — where you want to plant it. Things to consider include:
 

  • The tree’s purpose. Are you planting it for aesthetics, privacy, shade/energy reduction, windbreak, or as a street tree? Your end goal will determine the suitability of different trees.

  • Planting site limitations. What is your hardiness zone? What is the maximum height and spread for a tree in the space? What are the sun exposure and soil conditions? This information is available for more than 200 trees and woody shrubs in our Tree Guide.
     

Learn more about planting the Right Tree in the Right Place. You can also find a tree with the Tree Wizard — a free online tool to help you narrow down your choices and select the right tree for the right place.

1. Limit Staking Your Tree

 Tree staking is never done with the intention of harming a tree. Staking is usually done with love and with a desire to promote root and trunk growth and protect a young tree from harm. What some tree planters do not understand is, rather than helping a tree develop root and trunk growth, improper tree staking replaces a supportive trunk and root system with an artificial support that causes the tree to put its resources into growing taller but not growing wider.

2. Transplant Your Tree

 Tree owners often need to move or transplant trees from a nursery or within the yard. Yard trees may have been planted too thickly or threaten to outgrow available space. Size is a critical factor in transplanting. The larger a tree, the more difficult it is to transplant.​

3. Protect a Tree's CRZ

 Before starting a mulching project, become familiar the critical root zone (CRZ) or tree protection zone. This zone is generally defined as the area under a tree and out to its dripline. Improving conditions in this protection zone will also result in major health benefits to a tree.

4. Mulch Your Tree

Mulching is the most beneficial thing a home owner can do for the health of a young tree. Mulches are materials placed on the soil surface to improve soil structure, oxygen levels, temperature and moisture availability. Properly applied, mulch can give landscapes a handsome, well-groomed appearance.

5. Fertilize Your Tree

 Ideally, growing trees should be fertilized throughout the year. The greatest amounts should be applied during the early spring and summer months. Several light applications a year are preferred as the tree gets older.

6. Prune Your Tree

 Pruning is essential in developing a tree with a strong structure and desirable form. Here are several methods showing you how to prune your trees.

7. Prevent Ice and Snow Damage to Trees

 Brittle tree species normally take the brunt of heavy icing after a winter storm. Many of the elms, most true poplars, silver maples, birches, ​willows and ​hack-berries are tree species that simply can't handle the weight of the ice slurry coating limbs. Learn how to select and manage trees to withstand ice and snow.