Avoid fertilizing shade trees until late spring of the second year following planting. Fertilizers can “burn” roots or stimulate crown growth faster than the roots can supply water.
Stakes and guy wires should be used only if support is necessary. When using, avoid common problems by following these guidelines: If the main stem droops, find the best place for support ties by moving your hand up the trunk to locate the point above which the top can stand on its own. Place the support ties about 6″ above that point. Ties can be made many ways, but a loosely-fitted figure 8 tie made of polyethylene, cloth or webbed strap is easy to install, provides, good support and cushions the tree from rubbing against the stake. Using two ties will also minimize the chance of bark damage from rubbing. Regardless of the tie used, allow slack for sway. Avoid driving stakes through the root ball, or using stakes with flanges that will break roots when removed. Remove support ties after one or two years.
Watersprouts and Suckers
These “parasite” sprouts can occur at the base or inside the crown. They are rapidly growing, weakly attached, and upright. Usually they use more energy than they return to the tree. It is best to remove them as soon as possible when it is obvious they are vigorous sprouts.
Mulch is a young tree’s best friend. It holds down competing weeds or grass, retains soil moisture, prevents soil cracking that can damage new roots, protects the trunk from lawnmower damage and helps prevent soil compaction. Organic mulches such as wood chips or pine needles also contribute to better soil structure and aeration as they decompose. Avoid limestone rock and allow no mulch to touch the tree’s trunk or be piled higher than 2 to 3 inches.