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Caring for your baby trees

This article was first published on 08 Nov 2017.

Abies vejarii

Abies vejarii

Photo by the Otago Daily Times

You’ve seen a new tree that you love in the garden shops, and when you get home you find the ideal spot for it. We all know that it needs some love and care at the planting stage and even some water for at least the first year.

Once it is established and strong enough to look after itself we generally come back to care for it only when it is starting to look a little poor. But this is when just a little ongoing maintenance each year can make the tree flourish setting it up for decades to come.

One of the most important things for young trees is to reduce the competition around the roots for moisture and nutrients. This is particularly true for trees planted into grass areas as grass is a great competitor. Any weeds or grass around the tree should ideally be removed to at least one metre away from the trunk, and as an added benefit a biodegradable weed mat can be applied. They are made of natural materials and break down over a couple of years. The addition of a slow release fertiliser, often sold in pelleted form, will also help your plant get established quickly.

But don’t stop there; remember to apply a good, thick layer of mulch such as wood or bark chips to help maintain moisture and suppress weeds for the future.

Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Dylan Norfield.