By Erica Timm
Trees can provide us with many, many years of amazing benefits—shade, beauty, stormwater management, increased property values, just to name a few—but first we, as their stewards, need to make sure they thrive through their first few years in the ground.
Water is the number one resource that newly planted trees need during their first few years in the ground in order to survive. While making sure you provide your newly planted trees with 10-15 gallons of water each week is a great start, removing weeds and grass growing within 18 inches of the tree trunk ensures that all of that water actually reaches the tree roots.
Plants compete with their neighbors for water, resources and rooting space. The majority of the fine, water-absorbing tree roots can be found in the top six inches of soil. This is the same space that the majority of grass and weed roots are also found. It is more difficult for the newest plant in the landscape to compete with more established plants. So it’s especially important that the grass and weeds surrounding a newly planted tree are continuously removed.
Mulching your newly planted trees can help make the job of weed and grass removal a little easier by shading the space and creating a ground cover inhospitable to airborne seeds. Always hand pull weeds and grass.
Now, let’s get out there and make our trees’ health a priority by removing the weeds and grass, adding a thick layer of mulch under the tree canopy, and creating a regular watering schedule for the summer. Our trees will thank us, and we’ll get to enjoy their many benefits long into the future!
-Timm is a Neighborhood Trees Senior Specialist at Friends of Trees.