Thursday, March 1, 2007

Six tree care ideas

Here are six projects to improve the health of your trees and continue your students’ relationships with earth stewardship and environmental education!

1. Mulch

Spread Mulch at the base of your new tree- up to 3 feet circumference around the trunk- to keep moisture in and weeds out. Remember to keep the mulch a few inches away from the trunk to avoid rot.

2. Water (of course)

There’s much to learn watching living things grow and even more to learn by helping them along their way. A great lesson on teamwork, responsibility, science and more, keep the students involved in watering the trees. Be careful not to over or underwater 5 gallons a week per tree is a good general recommendation. As the trees grow in their third year and beyond, remember that the “feeder” roots are mostly under the drip line (the outermost tips of the branches) not just under the trunk.

3. Trunk covers

Help keep squirrels, rodents, lawnmowers and weed-wackers away from the young trunk by making cardboard cases around the trunks. Quart-sized milk cartons work well.

4. Cover the graft with paint

Your freshly planted tree may take a while to adapt to its new home and position to the sun. You can help it by taking some stress off of its most sensitive area, around its graft point. To avoid damaging sunburn on the lower trunk and graft, paint a mixture of ½ water, ½ white latex paint on the trunk and graft of your sapling.

5. Remove any weeds from around the base of the tree.

The three-foot basin of mulch around your tree should keep most grass or weeds from coming up and competing with the growing roots of the new tree. Keep the weed wacker in the tool shed and have your students get their hands close to the ground pulling weeds and taking care of their trees.

6. Staking

To reduce effects of wind and stress stake your tree to support straight and balanced growth. For best results stake from both sides and use only ties that gently cradle the tree, not cutting or rubbing against the bark. See illustration on our tree care web page.

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