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You’ve planted that beautiful tree…

Now what should you do?

Certainly you need to give it some tender loving care to make sure it grows into a healthy mature tree that you can enjoy for years. Here are some general rules to follow…


WATER IT!  The main reason newly planted trees die is simple…it didn’t get proper watering. Water a tree as soon as it is planted. Water at the base of the trunk, keeping the root ball moist but not soaked. Over watering can suffocate the roots.


MULCH IT! Mulching around the base of the tree protects it from lawn mowers and trimmers, decreases competition with grass for water and nutrients, and helps retain moisture. Keep mulch from touching the bark of the tree.


FERTILIZE IT? Fertilizing a newly planted tree is generally not recommended until the root system has a chance to reestablish.


Prune It? Prune out broken, diseased or rubbing branches. Wait 2-3 years after planting, when it recovers from transplanting, to prune for proper tree structure.


Stake It? Supporting new trees is usually not necessary unless it is on a windy site. Stake the tree to prevent uprooting and leaning until the roots have had a chance to grow and stabilize the tree. Allow some trunk flexibility so that the flare at the base of the tree develops naturally. Make sure the staking does not injure the bark, and remove after one or two years.




Your sod must be kept thoroughly soaked for the first week to 10 days.  It takes a lot of water to penetrate the sod and the soil below it.  Let the sprinklers run until 1” to 1.5” is in that area.  Use a cup under the sprinkler to find out how long it takes to get 1” to 1.5” in it.  Every sprinkler is different, but it will generally take a least an hour in each spot except on steep slopes.  The edges of the lawn and the parts along the walks and house are most likely to dry first, so make sure to water heavily and frequently in these areas.  Steeply sloped lawn area may slip if watered too heavily.

Generally, each spot will need a thorough soaking every other day unless it is very hot then every day.

Your grass will always let you know if it is not getting enough water.  If the sod begins to shrink and the seams open, it is drying out.  If the grass looks gray and doesn’t spring back up when you walk on it, it is wilted and needs water.


After you soak the lawn the first time it will be very soft.  Do not walk on it.  You will poke big holes in the lawn.  Set your sprinkler so you can pull them to the next spot without walking on the grass.  Do not use the lawn or allow the children on it for at least 2 weeks or until it is firm enough to prevent footsteps.


When the grass gets about 3” tall, usually 1 to 2 weeks after it has been installed, stop watering.  Wait for the grass to get firm enough to walk on.  Then with a sharp lightweight rotary mower set to cut the lawn at 2.5”-3” in height, cut the lawn and continue to water the lawn.  From this time on the grass should be cut as needed, but never mow shorter than 2.5” in height, and never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade.  Now, you can reduce your watering to twice a week for the first month and then to once every 7 to 14 days.  Continue watering and cutting just as long as the grass grows in the fall.


If an area of lawn settles or becomes damaged by walking on it while too wet, lay back the sod, put some topsoil under it, relay it and treat it as newly-laid sod.


The seeded lawn must get exactly the same care as sod, except as follows:

Water more frequently but lighter.  Keep the surface of the soil wet at all times until the grass is 2” tall.

Be especially careful on sloped areas.  Water lightly and frequently to prevent erosion.

Some grass seed requires 21 days to germinate so it takes longer to develop a lawn and it must be properly watered and protected for a longer period time.

It is not possible to prevent weeds so you’ll probably need a light application of Weed and Feed to fertilize the grass and kill weeds about 2 months after planting.

Each grass plant spreads so don’t be alarmed if your lawn looks thin at first.  Five grass plants per square foot are adequate.

We cannot guarantee against washout due to heavy rain or sprinkling.  If it occurs, fill the gully with topsoil, reseed and treat as a new seeding or call us and we will repair the damage at a cost.


The continued success of your lawn depends on regular cuttings, never shorter than 2.5”.  It needs regular fertilizing at least 3-5 times a year, periodic weed killing along with regular, heavy watering.  Generally, one thorough soaking every 1-2 weeks is adequate except in very hot dry weather.

Be careful not to water so heavily and frequently as to keep your trees, shrubs and flowers waterlogged, this is especially true if you have a sprinkling system.  We’ve seen many plants drown, killing them by too much water.


Most importantly, if you have concerns regarding the well-being of your new plantings, please feel free to call and we will be glad to answer your questions.  Your support staff is available during normal business hours at (262) 255-7882.



The greatest cause of plant loss is due to improper watering.  Both watering too much, or too little, can be injurious or kill new plants.  Plants require at least an inch of water a week during the growing season, and if there is not enough rainfall that week, then the plants will need supplemental watering.  Plants do better with a thorough soaking, keeping the roots deep, rather than light sprinkling that causes the roots to come to the surface in search of more water.  Thorough soakings once every two weeks is generally sufficient.  A rain gauge can be used to monitor how much water your new garden is actually getting.  An easy method is to run the water at 1/4 to 1/2 flow and water the base of the plant.  Let it trickle over the root zone until it no longer takes in water and move to the next plant.  Repeat this process once more, to make sure the new plants have sufficient water.  This only needs to be until the plants have established (usually 8-12 weeks if the weather is good).

In Southern Wisconsin, soil types vary considerably.  In heavy clay soil found in Milwaukee and Mequon, or during wet, cool weather, don’t water as often.  About half as much is sufficient.  In sandy, rocky soil or very hot weather, water about twice as often, but remember it must be deep!  Water close to the base of the plant so the bottom of the ball gets wet.  Too much or too little watering can cause wilting.  If you are not sure, dig down near the root ball 3-6” for shrubs and trees to determine if the soil is too wet or dry.

Evergreens have special watering requirements.  In the winter, evergreens can dehydrate when the roots can’t take up water from the frozen ground.  If it was a dry summer or fall, soak the area with up to an inch of water around the evergreens before the ground freezes hard, so the plants have enough moisture to make it through the season.  This should be done around Thanksgiving, It seems hard to believe, but Wisconsin is like a desert in the winter, it is VERY hard for evergreens to get water when the ground is frozen.

Generally, fertilizing can be done three weeks after the planting with soluble fertilizer.  However, a slow release tablet was placed in the planting hole at the time of planting.  Do not get fertilizer on the leaves as it can burn them.  Follow directions VERY CAREFULLY.  Too much fertilizer can kill the plants; a diluted application the first time may be desirable.  Miracid Liquid Fertilizer is very good for evergreen trees and shrubs, including boxwood and azaleas, and June is a great time to apply it.  If the lawn is regularly fertilized, the trees in the lawn will get ample nutrients.  To prevent soft growth that can freeze, stop fertilizing after August 15th.


There are two concerns for the winter: rabbits and other animals, and sunburn.  To prevent animal damage, place a hardware cloth (galvanized mesh) around the stem (to the top or at least 30”) and then twist tie the ends together.  This is a service Wandsnider can provide.  Bury the bottom of the cloth with at least two inches of soil.  White paper or white plastic spirals can help prevent sunburn on smooth barked trees, but MUST be removed the following April.

Quite often what appears to be a problem is actually the plant’s way of protecting itself.  Leaves are replaced yearly, and the plant may lose up to half its leaves and small branches after transplanting.  Remember that the tree or shrub has lost some root mass in being moved and may self prune to compensate until it can support a new crown.  In the meantime, roots are being produced.  This may take up to three years for a larger plant, and then it will take off.  The loss of leaves should become less severe within a few weeks of being transplanted.  This can also happen to evergreens, after several weeks, this will also stop.  If the foliage is wilting or droopy, it is probably dry, so check for water.  If the foliage is yellowing, and the margins are getting brown, it is getting too much water!  If branches are actually dead, just prune them off.  Plants may respond differently even if they are the same species.  Plants are individuals and may not adapt to new conditions as quickly as other plants in the same garden.


By definition, perennials return each year.  They grow and require dividing and pruning.  By removing dead leaves and spent flowers the plant often rejuvenates, and will extend its bloom time.  This also keeps unwanted new seedlings from sprouting.  New seedlings are seldom as nice as the parent plant, and can become weedy and out of control.  Spring flowering plants can be cut back by half after flowering, and fall flowering plants can be cut back to the green foliage at the base of the plant.  Plants should be divided when the clumps get too big for the area, the flowers are getting smaller, or the plants open up in the center.  Dividing is easily done with a shovel with a sharp edge or a knife, and will increase the vigor and blooming ability of the plants.

Perennials require deep watering (down through the top 5-6 inches of soil) to keep the roots deep.  The plants will do best by watering the ground, not the leaves.  Wet leaves can lead to diseases, and poor watering techniques will cause the plants to become shallow-rooted and prone to wilt.  Water when the top layer of the soil is dry (one to two inches) and no rain is predicted.  Don’t water overhead in the evening, when wet leaves are vulnerable to fungal invasion.  A soaker hose is preferable rather than a sprinkler.

A granular or liquid 10-10-10 (balanced nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) fertilizer is all that is necessary to keep the plants lush and growing.  Apply according to package directions, unless a fertilizer with or without a pre-emergent herbicide was already put down on the garden when it was planted.

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Wandsnider Landscape Architects

We strive to create beautiful outdoor environments for your enjoyment. Inviting livable spaces that capture your vision and add value to your home.


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