Tel: 608-838-3290

A Large Tree Nursery in Madison, WI

Aftercare Overview

The most important things to do for your new tree are to water and mulch it.

Alex's aftercare instructions (printable)


  • (optional) rototill outside the rootball to encourage new root growth. (See photo  #1 below)

  • (optional) apply seaweed root stimulator and biochar (see informational pages on root stimulator and biochar)

  • stabilize your new tree  (see photo #2 below) and video

  • put a layer of bark mulch on the rootball and the new root growth area (see photo #3 for a GOOD example)

  • WATER your tree  (MOST IMPORTANT!!!)

Do not:

  • fertilize the tree rootball in the first year! 
  • physically damage or excessivley trample on the rootball


Illustrative photos:

Photo Credt: Michael Kuhns, Extension Forestry Specialist

Photo #1: the "Donut"

This photograph shows a cut-away view* of ideal post-installation care.  We see the original rootball and the "donut" of rototilled and mulched soil surrounding the original rootball.  You can see the depth and width of the "donut". A good practice is to have the "donut" come out about as far as the canopy of the  branches. Apply 10-15 gallons of our root stimulators 20-40 pounds of  biochar. Install a 25 or 50 foot soaker hose, (photo #3) and fininsh the installation with a  6-8" layer of shredded bark mulch over the top of the soaker hose and rototilled soil.
*In this photo, some dirt has been removed to illustrate the soil preparation.  No dirt from the donut area should actually leave your property.


Photo (#2) of a properly stabilized and mulched tree -- Note the generous mulch ring and the directions of the earth screws (which are outside the original rootball)

  • The rototilled area starts from the original rootball and goes out well beyond to encourage new root growth
  • Bark mulch is not too thick and goes from NEAR the trunk to an area twice as wide as the original rootball
  • Earth screws are put in just beyond the original rootball.  They are in line with the rope not angled away from the tree (so they can be tightened by turning)
  • Earth screws are removed after the leaves fall and before the ground freezes.  In the case of a fall planting, screws and ropes may be removed in spring.
  • NOTE: pass each rope through about a foot of old garden hose before tightening.  The hose (not the rope) should touch the tree to prevent chafing.

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Photo #3: Another good example of a staked and mulched tree.  This one with a 50' soaker hose coiled around the tree for easy, efficient watering.  A soaker hose is extremely beneficial for watering installations where there is any slope which would allow the water to run away from your tree.

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Never mulch like this:

Photo #4.  Here we show IMPROPER mulching. This is the undesirable mulch volcano.  Here the mulch is too thick and mounded against the bark of the tree, which will cause the bark to rot away, killing your transplant.