Driving through neighborhoods, visiting homes and watching residents tend their trees, I find it is easy to kill a tree. Not that any one of us wants to harm a tree but we may not know what a tree really needs to become established and grow.
Home residents are not the only ones that mismanage trees. I find this happening with commercial plantings too. So here are some of the things I have discovered that can easily cause a tree's demise.
1. Allow root balls to sit out of the containers. Hard to believe but I have seen this many times and especially with commercial plantings.
2. Don't water that new tree. Or maybe it's a case of watering extremes where the water is left to run for ever.
3. Plant in an improper site - too wet - too dry.
4. Plant too deep - try to allow the top of the root ball to be even with or an inch or two above the soil line. Trees tend to sink down into our sandy soils.
5. Leave pot bound - reject any tree that is heavily pot bound with the roots wrapped in a ball. Slash the sides of the root ball of pot bound trees.
6. Keep mulches high around the trunks. This encourages rot problems. Mulches are best kept 6 inches to a foot from trunks and only a few inches thick.
7. Leave girdling roots. These are the roots that encircle a section of the trunk at the soil line and restrict growth.
8. Use string trimmers around the trunk This is a good way to remove bark and stop water movement in the trunks.
9. Over fertilize - Light feedings are all new trees need. Trees more than three years in your yard may not need special feedings at all.
10. Leave ties around the trunk. Nylon, wire and similar ties, tags and such can all girdle trunks. It may take the tree several years to show symptoms of decline.