Lincoln Conservation District

801 E 5th Street – Suite 2, Canton, SD 57013 | Office Phone: 605-987-2624 | Email:

Maintaining Healthy Trees

It is important as an owner of a tree to be aware of the basic needs of that tree. Providing proper environmental conditions for your tree increases the likelihood that the tree will survive and thrive to grow to maturity and old age.

Selecting the right tree to plant on a site is your first consideration. Some of the things to consider are hardiness, moisture requirements, and insect and disease resistance. Make sure the tree is labeled for the hardiness zone for the planting site. If the planting site is either naturally dry or wet, select a tree species that will thrive under the conditions at the site. Make sure the tree selected has specific resistance to insects or diseases that are a problem at the planting site.

Knowing the soil type at the planting site will enhance the tree’s ability to survive. Each soil type has a suitability for certain tree species. Some tree species may not survive and grow on certain soil types. It is, therefore, important to know the soil type on the planting site.

The way in which a tree is planted can affect the tree’s survival. You should not let tree roots get dry before, during, or after the planting process. A tree’s root crown, which is a swelling on the main stem where the stem ends and the root starts, should be planted no more than one inch below the soil surface after the soil settles around the tree. The hole for the tree should be two to three times wider than the root ball to provide for proper root growth.

The proper amount of water after the tree is planted is important for survival of the tree. The site around the tree should be thoroughly watered after planting. The soil should be checked regularly for moisture content. If there is little rainfall, the tree should have a deep watering about every two weeks. If you are not sure of the moisture content of the soil, dig down alongside the tree about four inches. If the soil is moist at this depth, watering is not needed. If the soil is very wet or waterlogged at this depth, the soil is being over-watered. Trees need oxygen in the soil pores for survival. Waterlogged soil has little oxygen in its pores. It is important to avoid using water that is high in salts when watering your tree.

It is not recommended to fertilize a tree during the first planting season. Trees do not normally need nutrients added to the soil to remain healthy. Too high of a fertility content in the soil can increase the tree’s susceptibility to certain kinds of insects and diseases.

You may have heard the saying, “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch your back.” If you take proper care of a tree, that tree will provide many benefits to you.


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