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"All trees, regardless of where they are growing, are genetically 'forest' trees. ... The closer you can keep trees' environment to that of a forest, the healthier the trees will be." (Marx, 1995, p. 4.)

1. Watering
"Water stress is the most commonly limiting growth factor after transplanting." (Watson, 1993, p. 63.)

Application must be slow enough to soak in, not run off. Basins or saucers at the foliage canopy drip line (fashioned with a berm of soil) can help avoid run off where application rate exceeds infiltration rate.

Note: For established but stressed trees, we borrow a commonly used rule of thumb from construction sites to determine the amount of water to apply. It is stated by Meyer (1995, p. 12) and translates to: 10 to 20 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter, applied evenly across the outer most two-thirds of the accessible soil area beneath the tree's foliage canopy.

2. Mulching
Use an organic mulch, like wood chips, spread evenly, to a depth of 3 - 4", not touching the trunk bark at the base of the tree, and covering the soil under the foliage canopy; ideally extending three times beyond drip line.

NEVER install plastic sheeting beneath mulch. It causes stagnant soil by limiting gas exchange.

3. Staking
Do not stake unless the tree cannot stand on its own. Stakes should only be temporary (Perry, 1993, p. 14). Remove as soon as tree can support itself, hopefully within one year, two at the most, not to exceed three.

Stakes must not rub the trunk or branches. This causes defects (wounds) low in the tree's structural system

"Nursery Stakes", used for support in transit, are not to remain in place after planting into the landscape.

The staking system should allow the tree trunk some movement. This permits the tree to build a stouter trunk, better able to later support itself. Tree ties must not constrict the trunk or branches.

4. Fertilizing
Historically, fertilization of trees has been recommended as a biennial event, perhaps on the basis that “it can't hurt”. (Maino, 1955, p. 8; Smiley, 1996, p. 8.)

Many authors now call for the abandonment of any rote formulae, replacing them with soil and/or tissue analysis to determine the actual needs of the plants. (Appleton, 1988, p. 14; Smiley, 1996, p. 8; Tattar, 1992, p. 29.)

5. Pruning
Any trimming must be done according to published standards. The industry generally accepts the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A300 standards.

Cut placement (positioning), selection, and technique are so important to the final result -- longevity of the tree, that it is important to have certified personnel (or equivalent staff) doing the hands on tree work.

Particularly pertaining to Coast Live Oaks, but applicable to other genera by extrapolation, Mahoney (1996, p. 8) notes: "Excessive pruning -- removal of more than a small fraction of the canopy -- can also constitute a major injury. The combined sum of many wounds plus loss of energy-producing foliage may take a tremendous toll on the defensive mechanism of the tree."

Do not prune to compensate for root loss at the time of planting. Prune only to remove broken or diseased limbs and to correct structural defects. Your newly planted trees will likely recover more quickly from transplant shock by generating new roots when as much of the foliage crown as possible remains intact.

6. Literature/Authorities
Literature cites are, of course, available. They are eliminated here only to save space and time.


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