For The Answer
PRIMETIME NEWSPAPERS WEEKLY COLUMN
Week of May 14, 2001
By Calvin Finch, Conservation Director, San Antonio Water System, and Horticulturist
CARE OF NEWLY PLANTED TREES
Shade trees are important for several reasons. A San Antonio summer would be unbearable if we couldnt escape to the shade of oaks or other large trees. The trees reduce water use on landscapes and save huge amounts of energy in the form of air conditioning. Trees are attractive and add thousands of dollars to our property values. Trees also can be important for birds and other wildlife.
The best time to plant trees is in the autumn but, with good container-grown stock, any time is a suitable time for tree planting. If you plant trees now you just have to be more careful about mulch and watering. Three to four inches of shredded brush, bark, leaves, pecan shells or compost is essential to protect the roots and maximize the growth rate. Research shows that most newly planted trees grow 40 percent faster with mulch over the roots compared to grass growing up to the trunk. The mulch also makes it unnecessary to use the string mower around the tree trunk. I would guess that more trees die from string mower girdling in South Texas landscapes than from drought.
Water the newly planted tree generously when it is planted so all the large air pockets are eliminated and soil is damp enough to encourage root growth. To determine when to water again feel under the mulch and water when the soil is dry. This will probably be every week to two weeks in the summer. Add enough water to fill the planting hole (usually 5 to 10 gallons) at each watering.