A tree in the right place large enough to provide shade not only gives comfort during the summer but adds considerably to the beauty and value of the property. Most new homes and many older ones do not have such trees. Early spring is one of the best times to plant them. Pine, spruce and hemlock are best planted in late summer and early fall, and American holly in mid- to late spring.
Many homeowners plant less desirable kinds because they are faster-growing. There are ways to encourage young trees to grow much faster than they ordinarily would. A young tree given good treatment will grow faster than the so-called fast-growing kinds.
Keep the tree watered during dry weather the first three or four years. Apply enough water slowly to moisten the top six to eight inches of soil. A well-established tree is able to go through an extended period of drought without suffering serious damage. The newly planted tree does not yet have an adequate root system.
If there is less than an inch of rainfall during the week, the tree should be watered sufficiently to make up the deficit.
If the tree is making less than four to six inches of twig growth during the year, it should be fertilized in the spring. Give it five to ten pounds of 10-6-4 fertilizer, applied to the soil surface with a spreader, and water it in.
Young trees of the slower-growing kinds such as the oaks can often be stimulated to grow much faster by fertilizing them every year.
If the tree is planted on the lawn, the roots must invade soil already occupied by grass roots to increase in length. There is competition for space, and the grass roots have the advantage because they are well developed and able to hold their own for a year or two. Eliminate grass from a 12-foot circle around the tree and its roots won't have to fight grass roots for nutrients and water.
It's a growth characteristic of lawn grasses that enables the tree to finally win out: A grass root does not live for an extended period of time; older roots continually die and new roots develop.
Tree roots, on the other hand, are basically much longer-lived. Over a period of time as changes take place with the grass roots the tree roots are able to become established and dominate the space.
Don't prune the young tree any more than necessary the first few years. A young tree left unpruned, except for removal of dead wood, will grow faster than if it is pruned at any time by any method.