Tree Care

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is now. - Chinese proverb


Photo by Paddy Tutty

Tree Care Made Easy

Many people carefully water, fertilize and cut their lawns, but never give a second thought to their trees. Proper tree care is not much different. Trees also need watering, fertilizing and a good pruning every now and then!


Large urban trees such as elms are fairly resistant to drought, however if you notice that leaves are starting to droop during periods of very hot or dry weather it may be time to get out the hose. Infrequent, thorough soakings are better than frequent minimal watering. In the early morning, water the entire area beneath the crown of the tree with a sprinkler until at least 3 cm (1 in.) of water has been applied. This can be measured by placing empty tuna cans under the sprinkler and watering until the cans are full. Repeat this weekly and your tree will start to perk up!


Mature trees will benefit from a fertilizer application every two or three years. Fertilizer can be applied on the surface of the soil or in "feeding" holes that are dug in the soil around the tree from the drip line (where the outer edge of the canopy drips onto the soil) and outward. Fertilize in early spring before growth begins. For well established trees that are 10 cm (4 in.) in diameter or more, apply 1 kg (2.2 lb.) of fertilizer per 3 cm (1 in.) of trunk diameter using a 20:20:20 mix. Evenly distribute the fertilizer from the drip-line and out. After surface applications, make sure to water well.

Residential Landscape Guidelines

These Guidelines were prepared by SOS Tree Coalition with the assistance of Denise Balcaen.

Photo by Linda Moskalyk

Drought & Trees

In our dry prairie summer and fall seasons one of the most valuable things that can be done for our trees is to water them. Even the city boulevard trees will thank us for providing some extra moisture.

The International Society of Arboriculture has excellent information for tree owners on general tree health.

Photo by Linda Moskalyk

Find an Arborist

It is often necessary to hire a professional for quality tree care. If you need someone to prune or you just have questions about the health of your tree you can hire an arborist. It is always best to make sure that they are a certified arborist. You can find out by going to the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) website and search for certified arborists in your area.