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Tree Care and Maintenance

Most tree care, especially for street trees, requires a free permit from the City Arborist. Please visit the permitting page to learn more. All arborists operating in the City should carry liability insurance with a minimum of $500,000 coverage. The City Arborist maintains a list of contractors with proper insurance.

WATERING

- The first few summers of your new trees life it will have a difficult time dealing with heat and drought. You can make this easier by providing water and covering the soil with wood-chip mulch. Deep watering can help speed the root establishment. Deep water consists of keeping the soil moist to a depth that includes all the roots.

- Not enough water is harmful for the tree but too much water is bad as well. Over-watering is a common tree care mistake. Please note that moist is different than soggy, and you can judge this by feel. A damp soil that dries for a short period will allow adequate oxygen to permeate the soil.

- As general rule, your soil should be moist. Mulching is also key in retaining moisture in the soil.

MULCHING

- Mulch insulates the soil helping to provide a buffer from heat and cold temperatures.

- Mulch retains water helping to keep the roots moist.

- Mulch keeps weeds out to help prevent root competition.

- Mulch prevents soil compaction.

- Mulch reduces lawn mower damage.

- Add mulch to the base of your tree by removing any grass within a 3 to 10 foot area depending on the size of your tree.

- Pour natural mulch such as wood chips or bark pieces 2 to 4 inches deep within the circle.

- Keep the mulch from touching the trunk of the tree.

GENERAL GUIDELINES

- Using a hand trowel or small shovel, loosen the top 2-3” of soil around the base of your tree, which will help to air and water penetrate the soil and reach the roots. Just be careful not to damage the roots!

- Trees do not need fertilizer, chemicals, or potting soil to thrive. In fact, applying these materials to young and newly planted trees often results in shock, which can easily kill your tree. Also avoid using weed killers and herbicides near your tree, especially those that kill broadleaved weeds.

- Remove weeds around the base of the tree periodically. This will help to keep the tree healthy and it looks nice too!

PRUNING

- Never remove more than ¼ of a tree’s crown in a season

- Ideally, main side branches should be at least ⅓ smaller than the diameter of the trunk.

- For most deciduous (broadleaf) trees, don’t prune up from the bottom any more than ⅓ of the tree’s total height.

- Where possible, try to encourage side branches that form angles that are ⅓ off vertical that form “10 o’clock” or “2 o’clock” angles with the trunk.

- Do not prune in the Fall, but rather in the winter to avoid fungal infections

REFERENCES

www.arborday.org/trees/tips/watering.cfm
www.arborday.org/trees/tips/mulching.cfm
www.arborday.org/trees/tips/mulching.cfm
www.treephilly.org/tree-care/yard-tree-planting-and-care/
www.arborday.org/trees/tips/keys-to-pruning.cfm