Caring For Your Street Tree

Caring For Your Street Tree

To take care of your street tree, note the following steps:

Water: Newly planted trees should be watered with 10 gallons twice a week between April and October. (Even during droughts, trees should not be watered more than twice a week as frequent shallow watering causes soil compaction, runoff and surface rooting, which dries out too quickly). Root growth is the most productive between October and when the ground freezes.

Protect Your Tree: Keep the area around trees free of trash and weeds. Gasoline, oil, strong detergents, salt, and even dog waste can kill tree roots. Clean up as soon as possible and keep slush and salt away from the roots in the winter. Also do not put impenetrable barriers around the tree pit – treated wood and concrete fences block their water supply.

Loosen Soil and Use Mulch: In the spring and fall, loosen the soil around your tree to a depth of one to two inches. Cover with two inches of mulch, but be careful to keep the mulch an inch or two away from the tree trunk. Use straw or shredded pine bark for mulch (tree bark mulch robs the soil of nitrogen) which keeps moisture in the soil and protects the fragile surface roots of your tree. It also allows rain to penetrate while controlling the growth of weeds.

Remove Stakes and Wires after a Year: Support wires can eventually strangle trees. After a year, stakes and wires are no longer needed and should be removed.

Let Others Prune: You should not prune your street tree. State law requires that you obtain permission from Baltimore City Forestry to prune a street tree. Recently, several trees have been over-pruned to the point that they have died or been so badly damaged that they need to be replaced. Several neighbors have been trained and certified by Baltimore City Forestry and Tree Baltimore and can help with light pruning (such as low branches blocking the sidewalk). Trees posing an immediate hazard (down branches or damaged trees) should be reported to Baltimore City Forestry, 410-396-6109.