Urban Tree Care

Homeowners and community staff can use these tree care tips to plant and maintain trees. Trees require sunlight, sufficient water, moderate temperatures, well drained soils and adequate nutrients to become established.

Tree Pruning

Trees naturally shed branches as they die or because of storm damage. The canopy of a tree may conflict with the passage of people and traffic under the tree or homes and buildings. Pruning removes these weak and defective branches reducing tree risk and provides under canopy clearance and clearance from structures. These practices reduce tree risks and facilitate it functioning in the urban setting with a minimum of conflict and will also enhance the health of the tree prolonging its lifespan. Tree pruning should be completed regularly throughout its lifespan. Young tree pruning must be completed more often, can be completed by anyone with proper tools and training, is inexpensive and will reduce future maintenance costs and storm damage. Mature trees should be pruned every 5 to 10 years by qualified tree professionals.


Water is the single most limiting essential resource for tree survival and growth. Trees get the water they need from the soil through their roots. Newly planted trees have lost a significant portion of their root zones so they will require regular watering for two to three years after planting. Mature trees should be watered during droughts by soaking the ground under the tree canopy allowing the water to penetrate deep into the soil. Typical irrigation for lawns does not water long enough for water to penetrate deep enough to benefit a tree. As a general rule, 2 gallons of water should be applied for every 1 inch of tree diameter. Mulching under the tree is a great practice to maintain soil moisture and helps protect the tree from soil compaction and incidental root and trunk damage.


Trees get the nutrients they need from the soil. A tree nutrient may be deficient or unavailable due to the soil composition resulting in a decline in tree health. A soil test is required to determine if there is a deficiency and what treatment may mitigate the deficiency. Fertilizing without a soil test and a treatment based on the findings can damage the tree, is a waste of money and detrimental to the environment.

Insect Pests & Disease

Unhealthy trees are more susceptible to insect pests and disease.  A healthy tree can withstand periodic insect pest and disease problems. Therefore, the best practice to minimize insect pest and disease problems is to keep a tree healthy. Monitor your trees for insect pests and disease and contract a professional to identify the pest or disease and determine if control measures are warranted.

Protection During Construction

Construction is the number one killer of trees. Root cutting, physical damage to the tree and compaction of the soil can lead to windfall or a decline in tree health. The decline in tree health in many cases does not appear for 3 to 5 years after the damage is done. Protect a tree during construction activities by adhering to tree protection standards and practices. Have a professional evaluate a tree prior to construction to evaluate its preservation value and ability to withstand the health stresses that will occur during construction.

For more information go to Community Tree Resources