Turfsavers Tree Farm, LLC.


How to maintain your newly planted tree.

Think of the tree you just purchased as a lifetime investment. How well your tree, and investment, grows depends on the type of tree and location you select for planting, the care you provide when the tree is planted, and follow-up care the tree receives after planting.

Newly Planted Trees

Newly planted trees are watered a little differently than trees that are well established in the landscape.  That’s because they haven’t been able to grow new roots into the surrounding soil yet.  Newly transplanted trees have a very limited root system.  The root ball and the surrounding area should be kept evenly moist and not allowed to dry out.  The root ball can dry out much more quickly than the surrounding soil, especially in hot or windy weather.

If the new tree is located in the lawn area, don’t rely on lawn irrigation to provide enough water. Check the moisture in the root ball, keeping in mind that the root ball can dry out within a day or two in hot weather. 

This special attention should be given to trees for at least two or three years until they become established and develop adequate root systems out into the surrounding soil.  It may take even longer for larger transplanted trees.  Trees that are dug from the ground and transplanted lose over 90 per cent of their root system.  Once a tree becomes established with roots growing out into the surrounding soil, it will need less attention.

Note: Many newly planted trees are often killed from too much water.  Young trees drown when excess water is applied at the base of the tree.  Remember they can’t swim, so only apply water often enough to keep the root ball evenly moist. 

How Much Water to Apply

Apply one to two inches of water every 3-5 days, when you irrigate your trees. Apply the water slowly enough so that it soaks into the soil without running off.  This means you may have to start and stop the system several times to allow the water to soak in, especially if you have a system that puts out a lot of water in a short amount of time or if you’re applying water to a sloped area.

The often repeated adage “water deeply, less frequently”  holds true.  When you apply water in frequent, light applications, you encourage shallow roots.  Shallow roots are more susceptible to summer heat stress, winter cold injury, and drought stress..

Importance of Checking Soil Moisture

Most of the fine feeder roots that are responsible for the uptake of water are located in the top 12 to 18 inches of soil.  It’s that area that should be kept evenly moist, letting only the top three to four inches dry out before re-watering. If the soil in that top 12 to 18 inches becomes too dry, the small feeder roots will die, impairing the tree’s ability to absorb water when it becomes available again.  Be sure to check the soil moisture to determine when water is needed.  You do this with a trowel, shovel, or soil-sampling tool. Don’t rely on the appearance of the soil surface, dig down and feel the soil several inches below the surface.

If your trees are growing in a lawn area, keep in mind that the grass may be using a large portion of water that’s being applied through a sprinkler system.  Even if you think you’re applying enough water, check the soil moisture in the tree root zone.  Make sure adequate moisture is reaching the soil and tree roots.  Consider supplemental watering if your trees need more water.

Information taken from:



The tree that is beside the running water is fresher and gives more fruit. ~Saint Teresa of Avila

Recommended Watering System

If you water your landscape by hand, use a faucet timer and soaker hose to water your trees. A soaker hose will let out about 5 gallons of water per hour.  Your new tree will need about 4-6 gallons of water each time you water it.  

Soaker hoses are a great way to apply water slowly and deeply to the soil in the root zone of trees. 

Check soil moisture periodically to insure that the root zone is being kept uniformly moist. Soaker hoses are available for purchase through Turfsavers Tree Farm, so don't forget to ask about them before you go home.

Mulch Helps Conserve Water

Mulching trees with a three to four inch layer of bark or compost decreases the amount of water that evaporates from the soil, aids in water and air penetration, and cools tree roots. The greater the area of root zone that’s mulched, the better your tree will perform.  Mulch is sold at Turfsavers Tree Farm and is recommended with the sale of every tree.

Apply loose organic mulch, such as a shredded bark, about 2"- 4" deep. If using stone or gravel apply 1" deep. If you must put something down under your mulch or stone, do not use plastic. Use a landscape fabric which allows water and air to pass through.

When planting your trees mulch an area 3' in diameter around the trunk or to the outside of the hole, whichever is greater. When planting mature trees, spread mulch from the tree trunk to the drip line (canopy of tree), if possible, for the most benefit. When mulching, keep the mulch at least 6 inches from the trunk of the tree.

What Time of Day is Best for Watering?

Wonder what time of day is best to water?  Irrigate when water is available to you.  You may find gardening books that advise against watering at night to avoid diseases.  However in out climate it dos not matter what time of the day to water your plants.  Watering in the middle of the day is not harmful to most plants, but is less efficient due to evaporation.  Just be careful not to water tree and garden plants with hot water from a hose sitting out in the sun.

Warning Signs

 If you are not watering your tree enough it's leaves may begin to turn brown, curl up, die, and fall off of your tree.  You may be over watering your tree if the leaves turn yellow and begin to fall off the tree and die.  

In order for the Turfsavers Tree Farm warranty to be effective, you must follow these specific watering directions!

Planting your own tree - Step by Step

Turfsavers Tree Farm recommends that you have your trees planted by them, so as to ensure the best chance of survival for your new trees!

  1. Dig a shallow, broad planting hole. Make the hole wide, as much as three times the diameter of the root ball but only as deep as the root ball. It is important to make the hole wide because the roots on the newly establishing tree must push through surrounding soil in order to establish. On most planting sites in new developments, the existing soils have been compacted and are unsuitable for healthy root growth. Breaking up the soil in a large area around the tree provides the newly emerging roots room to expand into loose soil to hasten establishment.
  2. Identify the trunk flare. The trunk flare is where the roots spread at the base of the tree. This point should be partially visible after the tree has been planted (see diagram). If the trunk flare is not partially visible, you may have to remove some soil from the top of the root ball. Find it so you can determine how deep the hole needs to be for proper planting.
  3. Remove tree container for containerized trees. Carefully cutting down the sides of the container may make this easier. Inspect the root ball for circling roots and cut or remove them. Expose the trunk flare, if necessary.
  4. Place the tree at the proper height. Before placing the tree in the hole, check to see that the hole has been dug to the proper depth’Äîand no more. The majority of the roots on the newly planted tree will develop in the top 12 inches of soil. If the tree is planted too deeply, new roots will have difficulty developing because of a lack of oxygen. It is better to plant the tree a little high, 2 to 3 inches above the base of the trunk flare, than to plant it at or below the original growing level. This planting level will allow for some settling (see diagram). To avoid damage when setting the tree in the hole, always lift the tree by the root ball and never by the trunk.
  5. Straighten the tree in the hole. Before you begin backfilling, have someone view the tree from several directions to confirm that the tree is straight. Once you begin backfilling, it is difficult to reposition the tree.
  6. Fill the hole gently but firmly. Fill the hole about one-third full and gently but firmly pack the soil around the base of the root ball. Then, if the root ball is wrapped, cut and remove any fabric, plastic, string, and wire from around the trunk and root ball to facilitate growth (see diagram). Be careful not to damage the trunk or roots in the process. 

    Fill the remainder of the hole, taking care to firmly pack soil to eliminate air pockets that may cause roots to dry out. To avoid this problem, add the soil a few inches at a time and settle with water. Continue this process until the hole is filled and the tree is firmly planted. It is not recommended to apply fertilizer at the time of planting.

  7. Stake the tree. You can use either two or three stakes.  The two-stake method is suitable for small trees (about 5-6 feet tall) and for trees in low-wind areas. Drive two tall, sturdy stakes into the soil on directly opposite sides of the tree, in line with the prevailing wind and just outside the planting hole. Driving stakes near the tree can damage roots and will not provide adequate support. Tie strong cord, rope, cable or wire to the stake.  The end that goes around the trunk should be a wide, belt-like strap of material that will not injure the trunk. Your local garden center should have ties designed for this purpose, or you can cushion the rope or wire with a section of rubber hose. Attach the straps to the tree about 3-4 feet above the ground.

    The three-stake method is used for larger trees and for trees in areas subject to strong or shifting winds. This technique is much the same as the two-stake method, but with three short, sturdy stakes evenly spaced around the tree. Attach heavy wire or cable to each stake, again with wide strapping or padding on the end that goes around the trunk. To keep the straps in place, position them just above the lower branches.

  8. Mulch the base of the tree. Mulch is simply organic matter applied to the area at the base of the tree. It acts as a blanket to hold moisture, it moderates soil temperature extremes, and it reduces competition from grass and weeds. Some good choices are leaf litter, pine straw, shredded bark, peat moss, or composted wood chips. A 2- to 4-inch layer is ideal. More than 4 inches may cause a problem with oxygen and moisture levels. When placing mulch, be sure that the actual trunk of the tree is not covered. Doing so may cause decay of the living bark at the base of the tree. A mulch-free area, 1 to 2 inches wide at the base of the tree, is sufficient to avoid moist bark conditions and prevent decay.
  9. Provide follow-up care. Keep the soil moist but not soaked; overwatering causes leaves to turn yellow or fall off. Water trees at least once a week, barring rain, and more frequently during hot weather. When the soil is dry below the surface of the mulch, it is time to water. Continue until mid-fall, tapering off for lower temperatures that require less-frequent watering.

    **Here are a few points to keep in mind, regardless of the staking method used:
    - Never wrap rope, wire or cable directly around a tree trunk. Always use non-damaging material. Reposition the strapping every two to three months to prevent any rubbing or girdling injury.
    - Never tie trees so firmly that they can not move. Young trees need to be able to move2 in the wind to produce strong trunks and to develop roots more thickly in appropriate places to compensate for the prevailing wind.
    - Do not leave the stakes in place too long. One year is sufficient for almost all trees. The stakes should be there only long enough to give the roots some time to grow and establish. The tree will actually be weaker if the stakes are left for too long, and over time the ties can damage the trunk and weaken or kill the tree.

    **If you do not follow these directions, and Turfsavers Tree Farm feels for any reason that you did not take proper care of your trees, the warranty will be null and void.

    Information taken from: http://www.treesaregood.org/treecare/tree_selection.aspx

Yearly Maintenance: Pruning Trees

The latest research indicates that pruning does not help overcome transplant shock unless the tree is receiving insufficient irrigation. Pruning of trees, if required should not be done until about a year after planting.

Pruning Fruit Trees

The successful growth and productivity of young fruit trees depends upon training as soon as the trees have been planted. Correct and careful pruning will shape the tree properly to prevent breakage from storms and when heavily loaded with fruit. Air and sunlight can enter the tree to prevent disease and encourage uniform size and ripening of fruit

Young fruit trees received from the nursery have several branches. There will also be one, two or more leaders. Cut off all but one of these leaders. If there are two leaders, they will form narrow V crotches. Such crotches are weak and tend to break in a storm or under heavy crop.

Select the flrst lowest branch of your tree. It is important that all these lateral branches have wide angles where they join the trunk. New lateral branches will grow from the leader the second year after planting.

Five to eight lateral branches are sufficient for a mature tree. The lateral branches should be spaced 8 to 18 inches apart.

Remove all water sprouts that form on the trunk or lateral branches near the trunk. Except when planting, pruning should be done early in March.

Pruning Fruit Trees

Pruning Shade Trees

The main purpose of pruning is to develop a balanced, well-spaced distribution of branches while maintaining the typical form of the species. Currently, there are two theories regarding tree pruning within the industry.

The first theory supports a heavier pruning:

  • Remove any parts that get broken in transit
  • Thin out weak growth
  • Eliminate weak crotches and any branches that are crowded or crossing.
In addition, easily transplanted trees should have 1/4 to 1/3 of each side branch removed. More difficult to transplant trees should have 1/2 to 2/3 of each side branch removed. Unless the tree has a natural multi-stemmed habit, it should be trained to a single, central dominant leader. In some cases, it may be necessary to prune the central leader to bring it back into balance with the existing framework. Proper pruning techniques should be followed to eliminate double leaders.

The second theory supports the idea that pruning should not be as extensive as has been recommended in the past.

  • Remove only weak, dead, diseased, suckering, rubbing or injured branches.
  • A light pruning may be done to shape the tree if necessary.
  • Avoid the temptation to thin a young tree's crown excessively. In general, leave the terminal buds.

CAUTION! New research has shown that terminal buds may have some relation to the feeder root regeneration. Therefore, heavy pruning is not recommended. However, we strongly feel that carefully balanced pruning is essential in the early growth and establishment of the tree.

Pruning Shade Trees

Yearly Maintenance: Pruning Evergreens

Most varieties of evergreens should be trimmed each year, as they need it, to keep looking their best and retain their symmetry.

In the pruning of evergreens, it is desirable to retain the natural growing habits as much as possible, merely removing some of the longer, ragged-looking tips to encourage a more dense, full growth. Pruning will help to keep your evergreens small and dense, overcoming the normal tendency to become thin and lose their foliage. Pruning should be done usually during June and the early part of July. The trees will then make sufficient growth to till out nicely before winter sets in.

Fir and Spruce

All branches projecting beyond the natural pyramid should be cut back into line. The side growth should also be pruned to overcome patchiness and encourage dense growth. The best time to prune these varieties is when the new growth has pushed and begun to harden off. (This usually occurs in June.) At this time, 1/3 to 1/2 of the hardened growth should be pruned off This pruning procedure encourages new buds to develop which will promote new growth the following season, making it more dense and compact. Preserve the central leader to maintain a straight line and upright growth habit.

  • Spruce and fir lose their shape if two leaders form. Remove upstart by cutting at arrow.
  • If the leader of a Fir or Spruce is damaged or broken, replace by tying and training a side branch upright.

Hemlock and Taxus (Yews)

These are the most graceful of all evergreens with long, sweeping branches. Taxus usually require shortening of the long shoots they put forth in the early spring to keep them trom becoming too open. Hemlock require some trimming, especially in shady locations.

  • Cut only the longest shoots of Hemlock at the base of the branch as shown. Do not use hedge shears.
  • Prune Taxus (Yews) by shortening long shoots in the spring.

Juniper and Arborvitae

Arborvitae may be sheared severely and adapt well if pruned in this manner. However, a less severe pruning allows the plant to retain a more natural appearance. Arborvitae make beautiful evergreen hedges, although they require consistent shearing and shaping each summer to make them compact and until June. Junipers often lose their attractive appearance if sheared too heavily. For unique effects with spreading evergreens planted in rockeries and rock walls, "weird" shapes are often desirably. By pruning off some of the side branches, you may encourage them to trail in varying directions.

  • Junipers appear ragged if left untrimmed.
  • Trimming longer branches makes the tree dense, but still retains natural appearance.
  • Use hedge shears for severe pruning to obtain formal effects
  • Arborvitae should be carefully disjointed at the stem points.


We recommend shearing this tree in the early stages of growth to encourage a tight, full and symmetrical shape. If left untrimmed, this tree becomes ragged. Personal pruning techniques will determine the individual characteristics of a loose / open or compact / tight appearance. With the exception of the Mugho Pine a central leader should be maintained. Please see Fir and Spruce for proper timing and pruning recommendations.

  • Remove central bud on Pine and Fir for dense growth.

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Turfsavers Tree Farm offers a full range of services seven days a week, by appointment only, for tree planting, tree sales, landscape supplies, and landscape construction needs.

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