When a tree is removed from the nursery and transplanted into a yard, it goes into shock. During this process, a tree can lose up to 90 percent of its root system and must rebuild and reestablish itself. In this stressful state, your newly planted tree will need proper care in order to survive.
The first full year following the transplant of a tree is the most crucial time for proper watering. Overwatering and underwatering are equally dangerous in this fragile time period.
The amount of water needed is determined by soil type and inches of rainfall. Most trees grow best in well in deep, moist, well-drained soil but some species can handle wetter or drier conditions. Specie specific research and soil tests are advised before transplanting.
During the growing season, late winter into early fall, most landscape plants should receive a minimum of one inch of water per week. In areas where the soil is not well drained (like clay-rich soil), less water is needed. In drier, sandier soils where water drains quickly, up to two inches per week may be needed. When watering, use a sprinkler gauge to help keep from overwatering or underwatering.
When done right, mulch protects and cares for your tree. A 3-4 inch layer or organic wood chip or pine bark spread from the base to the tip of the branches (drip line) is just right. As it breaks down, the mulch will support the growth of roots, conserve moisture, eliminate weeds, fertilize and moderate soil temperature.
Tip: Until your tree has had time to rebuild its root system after transplant, adding fertilizer is ineffective and unnecessary. Before applying fertilizer, its advisable to get a soil test 2-3 years after transplant.
Pruning a newly planted tree should be limited in the first year after transplant. Dead, rubbing or broken branches should always be removed. Structural pruning of larger branches is typically not necessary during the first year of growth.
Trees in windy areas may need additional support in the form of staking. Maintain trunk flexibility by avoiding rigid staking. Consistently check the tightness, adjust, and remove stakes after 1-2 years.