While summer is a less optimal time than spring or fall for planting trees, there are things that you can do to help ensure your trees not only survive – but thrive – when you order trees through Tucson Electric Power’s Trees for You program.

This year, our shade tree program – which normally closes for the hot summer months – is open through the summer to allow customers the opportunity to buy shade trees at discounted prices for their home.

“We’re lucky enough to live in a climate where we can plant year-round,” said Stephanie Vickers, Certified Nursery Professional and Wholesale Sales Manager for Civano Nursery in Tucson. “Even though summer can add more stress to trees when they’re planted, there are things you can do to ensure they get established and off to a good start.”

Vickers shares nine secrets for reducing the stress on trees planted during the summer to ensure they produce energy-saving shade for your home.

Choose a cool time to plant.

Plant the tree during the coolest times of the day – in early morning or later in the evening. It’s most comfortable and less stressful for the trees – and the person doing the planting. “The less you stress the tree, the better,” Vickers added.

Dig a right-sized hole.

Dig a hole the depth of the container and at least twice as wide. This gives the roots room to spread out and grow.

Use only native soil.

Soil amendments are unnecessary, and can actually condition a tree to require more nutrients than are found in the native soil.

“Some recommend adding compost material and mixing it in with the dirt, but the native soil is enough for the tree,” Vickers said. “When you introduce a very fertile soil in the native dirt, the roots are happy until they reach the real soil and then the tree has trouble growing in the native soil.”

Cut away the container.

When removing the tree from the bucket, don’t pull the tree out. Simply cut the pot away, keeping the root ball intact and place it into the hole to reduce transplant shock. “Some plants have more sensitive root balls than others,” she said. “They almost always go into shock when their root ball is disturbed.”

Keep the tree’s root flare above ground.

After a tree is planted, the soil can settle around the base, causing the root ball to sink. This pushes dirt up against the root flare at the base of the tree, slowly suffocating it. To prevent this, make sure the soil level is slightly above the ground level to allow the root flare to breathe.

Make a base well.

Dig a shallow well around the base of tree to the drip line – the imaginary line from the outermost branches around the tree. This helps retain water at the base when it rains or is watered to encourage the roots to spread. Vickers recommends widening the well as the tree matures so that water gets to the tips of the roots at the drip line.

Water daily.

Daily watering is recommended during the establishment period to mimic their care at the nursery and reduce shock. Saplings need water to reach their root balls when they’re starting to grow. But be careful. “You can overwater trees,” Vickers cautioned. “They tend to yellow on the newest growth to tell you they’re not getting enough nutrients from the soil because of overwatering.”

No pruning needed.

Hold off on pruning for at least a year to give the tree time to grow. Your local garden center can recommend the best time of year for pruning your type of tree.

Fertilize later.

Your sapling shouldn’t need fertilizer at first. Feeding can start a year after the tree has been planted.

By following these summer tree planting tips, your trees will produce energy-saving shade for your home for years to come. Click here to view a short video on tree planting tips.

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