HOW TO .......Care for young trees

Many young trees die from a lack of aftercare in their first five years, but five minutes of your time every March or April can make a huge difference.

1.Is it alive?
If there are no leaves, look for green under the bark of twigs. Fill in any gaps in the soil around the tree and its roots, and keep an eye out for any damage from pests and diseases. If the tree hasn't survived, try to work out why and correct the problem for the next time.
2.Use protection
Tree guards are a fantastic way of keeping animals from damaging your young trees. Check your guards are doing their job every few months. If they aren't working, changing to a taller tube or using fencing might be more effective against larger animals.
3.Quality, not quantity
Carefully pruning the tree can help prevent problems as the tree grows. If the tree has two competing shoots, removing one can alleviate the danger of branch failure. A single main shoot is better than two fighting for survival.
4. Loosen the ties
Check the stake and the tie. The tree stem shouldn't be under pressure from the tie or rubbing against it. It might be that the tree no longer needs a stake once its roots have developed sufficiently. If you release the tie and the tree leans or bends, shorten the stake. If the tree stays upright, there's no need for a stake.

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