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New Tree Care

Some trees have specific soil, sun, and care requirements. Make sure to do your homework first to find out what tree is best for your site.


Time of year

Plant evergreens in spring, summer, or early fall. Evergreens planted too late often don’t have time to establish themselves and are injured during winter.


Deciduous trees grown in containers may be planted throughout the season.


Marginally hardy trees should only be planted in spring.



All trees are susceptible to damage during transportation and storage. Even when traveling just a short distance, keep them sheltered from wind and sun to prevent drying. Keep roots damp but not soggy.


If you can’t plant for several days, place the tree or shrub upright in a trench and cover the roots with moist soil or mulch.


The hole

Dig a hole as deep as the root ball or pot is high and as wide as 1 ½ times the diameter of the ball.



One way to provide proper drainage is to build a soil mound to raise the root system above a high water table.


If there is a layer of well-drained soil underneath some hard, compacted soil you can punch holes through the compacted soil at the bottom of the planting hole with a soil auger or a similar device and fill them with gravel or crushed stone for drainage.


If all the soil is poorly drained, you can install a tile system to remove excess water.


Different containers

Do not remove burlap from B&B plants, but be sure to take off any plastic or nylon rope or twine.


For potted trees or shrubs, remove the root mass and separate the roots with your fingers so they do not continue to grow in the confined shape of the pot. It may even be necessary to cut roots that are wound at the base of the container.



Be careful to handle only the ball and not the trunk of the tree so as not to tear roots loose.


Set the ball in the hole so the top of the ball is level with the surrounding ground.


Do not put fertilizer in the planting hole unless it is the slow release type in pre-measured packet or pill form.


Fill the hole halfway up with soil, then fill the hole with water and let drain twice to eliminate air pockets. Continue filling with soil, pressing firmly, but not stomping down the soil around the roots. The soil should cover the roots but not bury any part of the trunk.


Make a 3-4 inch high ring of soil outside the diameter of the ball, creating a shallow saucer to hold water.


No pruning is necessary, but if any branches are broken they should be cut back to the next branch junction.



Mulching conserves soil moisture, controls weeds, and insulates. Mulch 2-4 inches deep in a ring starting 6 inches from the base. Mulching up a trunk will cause it to shrivel like skin under a bandage.



Water twice a week for the first 2 months, then once a week after that until deciduous plants lose their leaves or, for evergreens, until the ground freezes. Fill the saucer three times at each watering.


Roots need to be aired out between waterings. If watered more than twice a week, roots will shrivel up like dishpan hands.



Staking is recommended for trees that need support to hold them in an upright position.


Drive a stake into the ground on the west side of the tree. If you have limited space and need to place the stake very near the trunk, drive the stake in before you plant to avoid injuring the roots.


To prevent tearing the bark, run wire through a rubber hose, wrap it around the tree, and fasten the wire to the stake. The wire should be tight enough to hold the tree firmly without causing the trunk to bend. Cloth webbing may also be used to attach the tree to the stake.

Ask your salesperson to suggest stakes and kits that are available at Garden Gate.


You can remove these supports in about a year.



Young trees, especially with smooth bark, should be wrapped from the base of the trunk to the first branches to protect them from winter sun scald and rodents. Use tree wrap paper or strips of burlap secured with twine. Use hardware cloth cylinders around fruit trees and young trees to protect from deer and rabbits.


Remove the wrap at the end of the winter so the bark can harden off in the summer months.



Fertilize deciduous, fruit, and evergreen trees in early spring and in late fall. We recommend slow release fertilizer spikes which are inserted in spring to last the growing season and again in fall.


Apply fertilizer to shrubs also in early spring. A slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote is recommended. These capsules can be sprinkled on once to provide just the right amount of fertilizer over 4 months. When shrubs are small, fertilize annually, then as they reach the desired size, reduce or eliminate fertilizer to limit growth. Shrubs mulched with wood chips or shredded bark need regular applications of nitrogen fertilizer because organisms decomposing them use the nitrogen the shrubs need.


These slow-release fertilizers are convenient because they eliminate the chance of injuring the trees by getting fertilizer on foliage. They also take away the risk of damaging plants with quick-release fertilizers, which when applied in mid-summer can cause new growth that can be injured in the winter. Fertilizing at the wrong time can also reduce the number of flower buds on shrubs.


Flowerbed Tips

Spring Cleanup



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