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You can help trees

A tree-lined street
Simple steps can help trees thrive.
March 24, 2015

Trees need our help to live long and strong. Here are a few things you can do to help the trees in your yard and your neighborhood:

1. Water young trees. Until they have grown for a few years, trees don’t have many roots to absorb water, so they can’t live on rainfall. Water them often for the first year or two.

2. Give trees long, slow drinks. Leave the hose, barely dribbling, at the base of the tree for an hour or more. Or use a soaker hose.

3. Water big trees. During dry spells, even large, established trees need help to get enough moisture to survive. A long drink from the hose or even a few buckets of water at the base can help them survive until the rains return.

4. Reach out. Water even the trees along the street. They add significantly to the beauty and character of your neighborhood and increase your property values.

5. Protect tree bark. Their bark is easily hurt if it is struck by lawnmowers and string trimmers. Be careful not to damage them when mowing and edging. Don’t chain bikes to trees or drill to hang swings.

6. Watch out for roots. In confined areas, some trees’ roots are forced to the surface of the soil. Avoid mowing over those roots; damaging them can cut off the flow of water and nutrients.

7. Spread mulch. A circle of wood chips or shredded bark over the roots helps trees in many ways. It improves the soil, keeps roots cooler in summer, and prevents water from evaporating so tree roots can use it. It also keeps lawnmowers away from the bark.

8. Mulch right. Spread mulch in a wide, even layer about 3 to 4 inches deep. Don’t pile it against the trunk; it can trap moisture that causes rot or harbors insects and diseases.

9. Choose the right tree. Different kinds of trees need different conditions. Before you plant a tree, make sure it is the right size and that you can give it the sun, shade and soil it needs. Our Plant Clinic can help.

10. Plant it right. Dig a wide hole, like a soup bowl, and be careful not to plant the tree too deep. That’s the biggest reason trees fail. See our step-by-step video