Tree Establishment in the Urban Environment Video Series

Staking and guying are used to stabilize recently transplanted trees until their roots grow into the surrounding soil. In this video, Arnold Brodbeck looks at the factors that necessitate staking and guying and provides guidelines on how to select, install, and maintain them. He points out that staking and guying are very important for tree establishment in several situations: top-heavy tree crowns, small root balls, or areas with high winds. Arnold further warns that it is important to periodically inspect and adjust staking and guying because they can seriously damage trees when left untended.



Mulching is sometimes referred to as a “silver bullet” because it can naturally alleviate so many problems with landscape trees. Arnold Brodbeck starts with a discussion of the ecology of mulch and then shows how to properly apply mulch around trees. Mulch mimics a natural forest floor, which is an accumulation of the leaves and twigs that fall from the trees above. As this debris decomposes, it releases nutrients vital to trees. In the urban forest, mulch has several other key roles: it insulates the soil from temperature extremes, retains soil moisture, and suppresses weeds.



Proper watering of trees is the most critical factor in the survival of recently transplanted trees. Too little and the trees dry out. Too much and the roots drown. Arnold Brodbeck points out that the most important concept for watering new trees is to focus on “frequency”, not “quantity”. Infrequent, heavy watering can drown roots and lead to runoff. Ideally, new trees should be watered 2-3 times a week with 2-3 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter. Arnold demonstrates techniques for frequent, slow watering so that there is a deep soaking of the roots and wasteful runoff is avoided.


Weeds are undesirable plants that grow around the base of shade trees, robbing them of water and nutrients. This can slow the establishment and growth of young trees. In this video, Arnold Brodbeck discusses the consequences of unchecked weed growth around trees and provides tips on proper weed control. Mulching the tree root zone is the preferred method for reducing weed competition because it not only blocks weed growth, but also releases organic matter that nourishes the tree. Arnold also demonstrates herbicide application for weed control and discusses safety considerations for keeping both the tree and the applicator safe.
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Note:  When working with pesticides, such as herbicides, read the label for practical handling instructions and legal requirements. The label is the law.

Did you know that increasing shade on your property by just 17% can reduce power bills by $10 a month? The key is to plant trees in strategic locations and then provide them proper care so that they survive and thrive. Arnold Brodbeck, Auburn University Regional Extension Agent, introduces important tree care practices of mulching, watering, weed control, and supporting newly planted trees. These practices are critical to young tree survival and rapid growth to a mature size that maximizing energy conservation benefits. In subsequent videos, Arnold looks at each tree care practice in greater detail, providing tips to ensure success with your shade trees.