Look after your young trees!
We hope your new tree is planted and getting on well in its new location. Now that it has had a couple of months to settle in, we thought we would get in touch and give you a few tips on caring for your new tree.
Mature trees have enough of an established network of fine roots to manage their water intake effectively. Large trees’ water uptake is considerable, especially as the leaves transpire water in warm breezes. Here’s a good pub fact for you – 100 mature trees capture over 1,137,000 litres of water per year!
So we can pretty much let our mature trees get on with it, and unless hot weather lasts a long time, they are able to cope. Our smaller trees however do need some help. As they are less established, so is the root network, and if they have been recently planted, the soil will be less able to retain moisture. What can we do to help? Watering is the easy answer, but how can we manage the amount of water used so as not to waste it? Firstly, over watering is almost as bad as no watering, so don’t go mad. Too much water applied to the surface of the soil will encourage shallow roots, and so in the longer term will actually reduce the tree’s drought resistance. However, if your tree starts to wilt, here are some top tips.
Water in the evening, when the air is cooler and less water will evaporate. In strong sunlight, drops of water can act as magnifying lenses and scorch the leaves, so wait until the sun is weaker.
Use a water butt, or grey water, but ensure that you haven’t used any nasty chemicals first! If in doubt, change your washing up liquid! (An old bushcraft trick is to use horse chestnut leaves which are brilliant for scrubbing. I have used them in the wild as washing up liquid, and they are very effective and produce a good lather. Even greasy barbecue plates and dishes came up squeaky clean!)
If possible without disturbing the roots or when planting, consider some kind of irrigation system. This does not have to be fancy or expensive, an offcut of hose pipe with holes in, with the top just above soil level will ensure the water goes to where it’s needed.
Water not only the base of the stem, but further out, beyond the canopy. The further out the roots go, the finer they are, and this is where water and nutrients are taken in. Watering too far out is not a problem, and will encourage the roots to spread further and therefore next summer be better established!
Put down some plant feed. Tree roots take up nutrients in dissolved form in water, so add this to the water if possible.
Putting mulch around the base of trees is always good practice – not only does it reduce competition for the water from other plants, but it helps to retain in the soil what moisture there is. Make sure you don’t pile mulch up around the base of the stem though, aim for a doughnut shape as shown below rather than a volcano which can cause moisture and insect problems.
Now after all that work, go and fetch a drink and enjoy the last moments of summery weather!
As always, if you have any further questions or concerns regarding your trees, please do not hesitate to contact us.