Taking Care of Your Trees

As a recipient of a new trees through an Openlands TreePlanters Grant, we ask that you provide basic tree care for the three years following planting (what is known as the tree’s establishment period). We have compiled some information to help you care for your tree.

If you find out that tree care is your passion, consider registering for the next Openlands TreeKeepers certification course.


How often do I need to water my new trees?

From the time when the leaves being to appear in spring through generally the first frost, water new trees once a week with 15 gallons of water. When in doubt, check the soil at the base of the tree, and if it is dry, please water.

Should I fertilize my new trees?

For the first few years after planting, avoid using fertilizers meant for trees or even the surrounding turf grass. During this time the tree is establishing its root system and fertilizers may harm the long term health of the tree.

Do I need to prune my tree?

Unless there is a broken or damaged branch, hold off on with pruning. Your new tree will be using all of its available branches and leaves to grow a strong root system and become established to thrive well into the future. After a few growing seasons, Openlands will assist in giving the tree its first ‘structural’ pruning, which will begin to shape the tree for long term health.

What about mulch?

Maintain a three to four inch shredded bark mulch ring, free of weeds, year round to give your new tree the most nurturing environment to grow.  Avoid volcano mulching, which could kill you tree. In high trafficked areas it is a good idea to replace mulch that was around the tree during winter with a fresh layer in spring, and to remove accumulated pet waste and deicing salts.

I think my tree is ill or may have died.

If you suspect your trees has an illness or has died, let us know by contacting trees@openlands.org. Trees that die will not be replaced unless it was a problem with the nursery stock.

Do you have any other tree care resources?

For some excellent resources to help you care for your trees, take some time to review the US Forest Service Tree Care Guide and these best practices from our partners at The Morton Arboretum.


For more information on the Openlands TreePlanters Grants or with additional questions on tree care, please contact trees@openlands.org or call 312.863.6256.