Caring for Newly Planted Trees

Planting Process Affects on Trees

The planting process causes a great deal of stress for a tree. Trees that were previously in containers have had their roots disturbed during planting, and balled and burlapped trees have had the majority of their roots removed during the field-digging process. These trees were also under a consistent irrigation schedule prior to planting and their environment is now completely different.


It takes a few years for newly planted trees to produce an extensive root system and to adjust to their new surroundings. For this reason, some basic care is needed to prevent trees from becoming stressed. When stress due to drought, heat, and wounding is avoided, trees can more easily produce roots and food-producing material (foliage) and become established without succumbing to insect or disease problems. After establishment, a tree should be able to access the resources it needs and fend for itself under normal climatic conditions.

Supplemental Watering

Please note that while mature trees should be fine without supplemental watering, during times of extreme drought even established trees can benefit from it.

How to Care for Newly Planted Trees

Keeping a tree healthy can reduce susceptibility to insect or disease problems. Care that newly planted trees need:
  • Delayed pruning- Trees have enough to accomplish after planting with growing a root system, maintaining foliage, and trying to survive. There is no reason to add wound sealing to the mix.
  • Mulch - Spreading mulch around a tree can mean the difference between life and death.
  • Protection from mechanical damage - Gashes in a tree’s trunk from lawn equipment can cause severe tree stress, making transport of water and minerals through the tree difficult
  • Reduced competition- Weeds and turf grass can use up water and minerals that trees need, leading to stress.
  • Water- New trees need weekly watering that is not part of a lawn irrigation system.
Contact an Arborist about problems. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to consult with an expert about health issues your tree is experiencing.

More Information

To learn more about each of these young-tree maintenance needs, view the Basic Care for Newly Planted Trees bulletin.