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The First Year: Caring For Young Trees After Transplant

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If you have newly planted trees in your yard, you'll need to carefully watch over them during the first year after transplant. Trees are expensive and they are extra vulnerable to dehydration, disease, or malnutrition right after they are planted in your yard. Here are some things you can do to make sure they survive and thrive under your care.

1. Make sure they get enough water.

Young trees will need a lot to drink after they are transplanted, especially if the ground was dry when the tree was planted. The extra water helps to soften the surrounding ground for the roots to extend beyond the root ball of the tree. Trees are usually planted with a burlap root basket, and the water also helps to help the burlap disintegrate.

While any watering system is better than none, the most effective water delivery is through drip irrigation, especially if you have more than one tree. This provides the young tree with a constant, slow flow of water through the day. If you water the tree with several gallons at once, the water evaporates or runs off, so the tree only gets a small portion. However, a drip irrigation system helps the roots to absorb the water slowly and steadily, because the drip moistens the ground around the roots. It is also difficult to overwater with a drip system.

On especially hot days, you will need to turn up the trip or supplement with hose or bucket watering to prevent your trees from being scorched in hot and dry climates. You can prevent evaporation and stress from drought by covering the soil surrounding the tree with mulch. 

2. Use a root builder fungi.

There are special types of fungi that can form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of your trees -- these are called mycorrhizal relationships. They help to extend the root fibers of plants to make them able to absorb nutrients from the soil in greater volume. The roots are able to grow faster and stronger, with more off-shoots that allow for even more nutrient absorption. The plants provide sugars for the fungi to feast on, and the fungi attach to the roots and build webs of fungi that deliver more nutrients to the roots, and the cycle continues. You can fertilize your tree to provide nutrients, but these fungi are what deliver food from the fertilizer to the tree's front door; roots can only take in nutrients that are 1/10 of an inch away from the root surface. 

3. Protect the bark.

The bark of young trees is soft and thin, making it the perfect food for deer and rabbits. When the bark is stripped, your tree will have a difficult time recovering. If it doesn't become diseased because of exposure, the surface of the tree will scar, ruining the appearance of the trunk. Use plastic trunk protectors to keep animals for feasting on the bark. 

4. Prepare your tree for winter.

If you plant in spring, your tree will have a few months to settle in before the frost comes. However, planting in late summer or fall is different. Trees definitely can be planted later in the season, but you will need to make sure they are properly watered and insulated during the winter. Spread a thick layer of wood chips around and over the root ball of the tree, being careful not to let them touch the trunk (this can cause mold or rot problems). Water the tree, even when it is cold. Clear heavy snow from the branches (they are young and can bend, permanently changing the shape).

For more information on watering systems, contact a drip irrigation company (like H2O Lawn Sprinklers)  in your area and don't hesitate to talk to a tree service about keeping your tree healthy for the first year of post-transplant life.