Article 6 of 12 from Trees: Dispelling Myths & Misinformation, prepared by the arborists of the Southwest Division of Bartlett Tree Experts as a community education initiative.
The first rule of staking is not to if it’s not necessary. Trees need movement to develop girth, taper, and healthy roots. A tree staked improperly or too long might grow in height, but it will suffer in other ways. Obtain more on proper tree staking at TreesAreGood.org.
Moisture deprivation is a common reason for young-tree death. A generous watering delivered quickly won’t have time to saturate the root ball. Rather, it will rush to the base of the planting hole and mostly sink in to the soil beneath it. A slow watering with a soaker hose (or similar method) will ensure that moisture delivery is effective. Avoid the urge to overwater. Depending on the season and rainfall amounts, watering a newly planted tree about once a week should be adequate, but check the soil often. Hot Texas summers might necessitate more frequent watering.
We all wish there were such a thing as a “no-maintenance” tree or shrub, but most of us know better. A newly planted tree requires careful monitoring (and informed care) during an establishment period that can last a few years.
Except for pruning any broken branches, a newly planted tree should not be pruned. After a season or so, it’s important to begin a schedule of corrective pruning as part of a young-tree maintenance program. We’ll explain in the next article why this proactive process can save you headaches, heartaches, and money.