-  Knox Tree Maintenance  -

At home on Kenyon's first block - our favorite street in Hartford.


Planting a cherry tree on Kenyon Street     Planting a cherry tree on Kenyon Street

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How to Plant a TreeScape     Tree Pruning and Maintenance



Maintaining and Pruning Your Trees



On May 5th, 2007, the first spring 
after we planted our trees, 
Ron, the arborist 
from the Knox Parks Foundation 
returned to teach us how to care for our trees.


Watering:  After the first year, do not water unless there is a drought condition.  If you are in doubt:  
if the tree leaves look wilted during a long dry spell, then water thoroughly with a slow flow or soaker hose.
Ron's tree care philosophy:  After the first year, let trees develop "survival" root systems 
so they don't become dependant on constant care.   



Push any mulch away that is touching  the trunk.  

If your tree does not have a ring of mulch around the bottom, though, add some.  
After the first year, a ring of mulch is primarily to keep lawn mowers and string trimmers from touching the trunk.  
Mowers do more tree damage than anything else.  If the string on a trimmer (or anything else) 
girdles the trunk,  it kills the tree.   Pull any weeds growing in the mulch ring.

On garbage day, the automated arm that lifts the trash can has gouged many trees in the city.
Make sure you  place your trash cans for pick up far away from your street trees.  



A tree that was planted crooked 
can be pushed back into a straighter position the first spring after planting 
as long as it has roots saturated with water.


Clip any "suckers" (growth) coming up from the roots in the soil.  
Flick off any new leaves emerging from the trunk with your thumb.  
These look sloppy and sap the energy from growth you want to promote.


With sharp pruning shears, clip any dead twigs or limbs.   
Clip at an angle at the base of the limb, just after the collar 
(which is the raised bark at the very base of the limb).  The collar provides extra healing properties. 

Make sure all old, previously pruned spots are clipped the same way. 
This nib should have been pruned at the base - at an angle just after the collar.  Do it now - it invites disease.
If there are any tags or strings with plastic or nylon, remove them - they will eventually cut into the tree.


This tree shows a damaged area that has started to heal.  
The light blue-green spots on the bark is lichen.  Lichen will not harm a tree.


The year after planting, avoid pruning except in the case of dead twigs, 
suckers at the root ball and limbs that are touching.  
Limbs that are touching can rub the bark off in the wind in less than a season.  
If you can't untwist them so they will not rub, remove the least promising limb.  

Recap:  First year after planting year:

  1. Push mulch from tree trunk.

  2. Retain a mulch ring and weed it so that mowers do not come close to the trunk.

  3. Clip suckers from tree roots and trunk.

  4. Prune dead twigs and limbs.

  5. Prune any limb that is rubbing against another.

  6. Remove any tags, plastic or nylon string.

  7. Don't water unless there are drought conditions and leaves are wilting.

  8. Place your trash can far away from street trees.


Year Three (after planting)
May, 2009

Your trees should grow another year or two before they are pruned for other reasons, 
because the young trees will lose moisture at the pruning site.

After the second year and as the years go by, prune twigs and limbs:

  • that are dead, 

  • that cross the middle,

  • that are too low or creating an obstruction,

  • that are too close to another and

  • for aesthetic reasons.


Remove one of the limbs if two of them are too close to each other.  The weaker is called a sucker 
because it will "suck" away the energy, water and nutrients from a limb you wish to promote.  
Suckers that rise straight up from a limb should be removed as well.  
You can prune a limb wherever new growth is - 
just remember to cut at an angle and to cut so that you leave the collar.

For more mature street trees, remove all limbs that are lower than a person. 
Pedestrians should be able to comfortably walk under the tree.

A well-pruned tree has an open feel, so light and air can reach all parts. 
Think of it as a tree a bird can comfortably fly through.

Other info: 
Treat Japanese beetle grubs in your lawn with Milky Spore.  It will attack only the Japanese Beetle grub that eats grass roots, but not beneficial insects and worms necessary for healthy soil.  The treatment takes a year or so to be fully effective, and lasts at least 10 years.  It will cut down on Japanese beetles that attack roses and other favorite plants  the mature beetle loves to munch.




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