Prune, water, mulch. Take care of the trees around you.
Water is the single most important need for newly planted trees. Root development or regeneration cannot occur without adequate moisture. Be sure new trees are watered routinely for the first two years after planting.
Mulch conserves moisture, retards grass and weeds that compete with tree roots, and stabilizes soil temperatures. Replace mulch every two years or so to maintain a three-inch thick layer. Don’t pile mulch against the tree trunk, however. Mulch should not cover the trunk or root crown – remember, the mulch ring should resemble a doughnut, not a volcano!
Pruning is normally not required the first two years after planting. Dead or broken branches should be removed immediately, and plan for removing low forks or V-shaped crotches in the trunk to avoid future splitting. Generally, the lower side branches can be removed as the tree grows to promote a “shade tree” form.
One of the most important things you can do for a tree is to monitor it for pests and disease. They can cause considerable damage. Any pest that destroys foliage during the spring and early summer or attacks the trunk of the tree is especially serious. Consult a garden center, arborist, or forester to learn the correct control for tree pests.