Trees can bring so much to a garden, including shade, fruit, autumn colour, fragrance, flowers; and come in all shapes and sizes. After the first year or two, trees need little maintenance or pruning and usually look after themselves with just a little routine care.
Tree planting and establishment
Choosing good quality specimens, planting them correctly and looking after them for the first few years are crucial to successful tree establishment.
Large trees are much harder to establish than small trees. This applies equally to trees that are being transplanted as to newly purchased specimens.
Feeding: Trees are not demanding and in most cases annual feeding with 50-100g per sq m (1½-3oz sq yd) of general-purpose fertiliser every late winter will suffice.
Mulching: Trees benefit from mulching to suppress weeds, provide nutrients, improve soil conditions and conserve moisture. Trees are usually mulched in late winter, after any fertiliser application, to conserve winter moisture reserves in the soil before the spring and summer.
Watering: Although newly planted trees initially need careful watering, once established they usually need little water.
Reversion and Sporting: Remove reverted shoots promptly.
Suckers: Remove any shoots arising from below grafts or from the roots.
For more detailed information on the above jobs, see the following advice profiles.
Pruning and training
Young trees often benefit from some initial formative pruning:
- Remove congested shoots and ones that rub and any weak growth to make a balanced and attractive small tree. Do this in winter.
- To make a standard tree (lollipop shaped with a bare trunk) in winter remove sideshoots (laterals) from the lower third of the young tree and also any weak or competing shoots at the top of the tree.
- In later years gradually remove the lowest sideshoots from the bottom third of the tree, and shorten by half the remaining ones on the middle third in winter.
- Go on developing the clean stem until it is tall enough for your needs and then it is possible to make a tall tree with a centre leading shoot or a spreading tree (called an open-centred tree) by removing the leader by cutting back to a healthy shoot.
- After this initial pruning annual pruning is not usually needed, but from time to time remedial action might be taken to remedy storm damage, uneven growth or other problems.