Whether you’re a new homeowner or just looking to improve your property values, landscaping with new saplings or seedlings can be incredibly gratifying. So how do you get it right? First, Be Ready to Commit Taking care of a tree means you’re in it for the long term. Your tree could very likely outlive you! Think about your lifestyle, and decide whether you want a tree that’s going to require a lot of care (but deliver great rewards with flowering buds, colorful fall leaves or an unusual appearance), or a “plant it and forget it” type of tree. Think About Where You Live Some trees flourish in urban environments. Others need a lot of space to grow and thrive. If your soil is less than stellar, you may need to fertilize. And, of course, it almost goes without saying that you shouldn’t plant tall trees under power lines – you’ll just end up having to cut them down when they reach their full growth, and what’s the point in that? Consider Function Virtually any attractive tree will increase your property values, so that’s one consideration. You should also think about whether your goal is shade in the summer and more sunlight in the winter. If that’s the case, then you’ll want a deciduous tree – one that provides shade in the hot weather and drops its leaves in the fall. Perhaps you want a privacy screen, or you like seeing a bit of green during the winter – then you’ll want an evergreen. For the most attractive landscaping, choose a mix of the two. Planting Your Tree There’s several steps involved in making sure your tree is planted correctly. First, make sure that your tree has room to breathe – when you remove it from the container, loosen up the roots, and place the tree in a hole that you’ve dug. Make sure that the hole is at least as deep as the root ball before you loosened up the roots, and approximately three times as wide. Make sure to get it right the first time, because repeated planting and digging up traumatizes the tree. Now, hold the tree upright in the hole, fill in around the roots, and tamp the soil down. Water. Caring For Your Tree You need to fertilize, water, mulch and with some species, prune (but only dead or problem branches in the first year). You’ll also have to watch out for problems like insects, dead wood, stem rot, cracked trunks and bark damage. No fertilizer or amendments the first year. When you do, go easy on the fertilizer – “high number” fertilizers can contain too much nitrogen, and may actually harm your tree. Choose a light fertilizer like 6-6-4. Remember that water is the most important element your tree can receive – if your soil is good, you might not even need fertilizer, because the water will help transfer the natural soil nutrients to your tree. Transplanting Do this as little as possible. You may, however, find that you’ve made a common mistake and planted trees too close together. If this is the case, try to transplant early, because the bigger the tree is, the less likely it will be to tolerate transplanting. Every so often, you’re going to make a mistake and plant trees too closely together. Keep in mind that the bigger the tree is, the less tolerant it will be of transplanting. Watch for Health Issues Is your tree growing more slowly than it did last year? If it is, it might not be cause for concern – sometimes growth slows down a bit. If you’re seeing a dramatic reduction in growth, though, that could be a sign of an unhealthy tree. An arborist can offer advice. With mature trees, watch for dead limbs and deterioration in the bark. These could be signs of illness. Don’t Make Mistakes The best way to ensure the health of your tree is to get it right the first time. Transplant properly, and make sure that there isn’t competition from weeds or other plants. Pick a good location, and make sure that you’re alert to damage. From initial planting throughout the life of your tree, some care and maintenance will be required. Fortunately, it’s not really all that complicated, and if you run into trouble, Growing Earth Tree Care can help. Call today, (703) 818-8228 and let’s get growing!