Mr. Tree – Care Tips for Newly Established Trees

The spring is almost upon us so you may be thinking about what you want your yard to look like as we come into the blooming season. This plan may include adding new trees to your property. This is great idea for aesthetics and can even raise the value of your home.

While you’ll likely hire a professional to plant the new tree, you will have to take care of it from then on. So, how can you ensure you are properly caring for a newly established tree? Here are some top tips to help nurture your youngling: 

When to Plant

Late winter through early spring is the best time to plant most trees in the northwest so right now is the perfect time to start the planning process. Once you’ve decided on the type of trees you’re going to plant and the desired location of planting, you’ll want to establish the proper care tips to ensure that your trees will survive and thrive. If your location happens to be on a city street (right of way), you’ll need to obtain a planting permit, which is free of charge and includes an on-site inspection.

Low Maintenance vs High Maintenance

Once you’ve established the location and followed the proper protocol, you’ll want to decide on what type of trees will fit with your maintenance schedule. If you plan on caring your new trees yourself and your goal is low-maintenance upkeep, here are five trees to consider as they are known to withstand pests and disease: heavenly bamboo, Oregon grape, lace shrub, Japanese snowbell, and Japanese holly.

If you’ll be utilizing a landscaper and are tolerant of trees that may pose potential issues, such as being disease-prone and having invasive roots, then the following five options could also work for you: Norway maple, mimosa mulberry, willows, Siberian elm, and poplar. If you can bare the upkeep, these trees have great curb-appeal.


The most important step when planting your new Portland trees is to water them immediately after they are planted and establish a solid watering system from the very beginning. One of the two most common oversights of caring for new trees is over-watering and under-watering.

Too much or too little water make all the difference in maintaining a healthy tree. There needs to be a perfect balance for a tree to flourish—the soil must be moist to the touch and the best way to achieve this moistness is to ensure that the roots are never dry.

In order to effectively ensure that your new tree roots are receiving the perfect amount of water, you can utilize the deep watering method. This will prevent a soggy soil situation and create that flawless moist soil your tree thirsts for.

Deep Watering Method

The deep watering method will help ensure that your new Portland trees will flourish. Below are the steps to take to reap you the best results.

  1. Spray your seedling for 30 seconds a day with a continual stream from a garden hose or set a timer for the same time-frame with a sprinkler system. Sprinkler systems may not be the most effective, so checking the moistness of the soil is a crucial step in determining whether the soil is receiving adequate water.
  2. Mulch around the trees. Wood-chip mulch is a good option. You’ll need to apply 2” – 3” layer around the tree, extended to the drip line. Mulching provides several benefits, such as: prevents weeding, retains moisture, allows the soil to maintain a consistent moisture level and of course provides a manicured looking landscape with very little effort.
  3. Check the moisture level with a garden trowel. This is a tool that has a small handle with a point-shaped metal blade. The key to checking moisture with this device is making sure that the trowel is inserted into the ground with a minimum depth of 2 inches. Once the tool is inserted into the ground, it should be moved back and forth; this movement will create a small ditch-like area. Place your finger into this area and touch the soil to test its consistency. If the soil is moist, this is a good indicator that your new tree is receiving enough water.

Bracing a Tree

Bracing a new tree is not always necessary. As a matter of fact, bracing a tree that doesn’t require bracing and/or leaving the stakes in too long can actually cause more harm than good.

Smaller trees typically establish roots within the first year of being planted versus larger trees, which may require two or more years to become fully established. A good rule of thumb in determining whether to brace a tree is simply examining the size of the root ball versus the size of the tree trunk. If the root ball is small, it won’t be able to hold the tree trunk upright, especially with stronger winds, so bracing the tree would be necessary. If the diameter of the tree is less than 2 inches that is a good indicator that it should be braced. The idea is to keep the trunk sturdy while the roots become established. 

How to Brace a Tree

Bracing a tree will require the use of a stake with a minimum length of 36 inches. You’ll need to hammer the stake into the ground as close to the trunk as possible; at least half of the stake should be under the ground.

You can brace the tree trunk by tying it to the stake with anything, but a bicycle inner-tube has been known to work very well. You’ll need to tie it in a figure-eight formation, which will provide a strong hold, but will also allow some movement. Doing this will provide stability for the trunk, but will also offer a small buffer between the trunk and the stake.

Taking the time to properly care for your newly established trees will not only benefit our ecosystem by removing toxins from the air, it can also have a significant positive impact on your over-all health, well-being, and happiness.

Caring for your newly established trees is a big job and although this can be taken on by a novice, the most effective approach to ensure that your newly trees achieve the best results is entrusting a professional arborist who can provide you with the best resources to safeguard its health and allow it to develop into a fully mature tree with strong, healthy roots.