How To Grow A Healthy Tree

Like children, young trees need care. And all urban trees need water, protection, and extra attention to keep them healthy and long-living. Get an overview from Arbor Day Foundation and City Plants.

The first three years of life are the most critical for your young tree. Learn how to care for it properly so that it will grow strong and tall, providing you shade for years to come. If questions arise regarding your tree, consult with the nursery where you purchased the tree or send us a message.


Watering regularly is crucial to help your tree survive its first 3 – 5 years in its new home. Deep water your trees twice a week with 5 gallons of water. In the second year, water once a week with 10 to 15 gallons of water, and in the third year, water 15 gallons every two weeks.  Then water deeply once a month as tree grows, in the summer and any months that there is no significant precipitation.

The Sacramento Tree foundation has a great webpage dedicated to information regarding tree watering at all stages of your tree’s life. Please review their webpage here for more specific information on watering you tree.

Video by TreePeople: How to Water a Tree


Drought and summer heat is often when trees are lost. If we forget to water a tree for a couple hot weeks in the summer that can kill the tree. Remember to be diligent about tree watering in the summer. If you are leaving for an extended amount of time and cannot water your tree, remember to have a friend water it or set up an automatic watering system. These are often inexpensive and easy to set up.

Watch this video from CityPlants on how to water your tree in drought

Automatic watering: An automatic watering system can be easily installed and ensures your tree will be watered regularly an properly. Watering systems can be purchased at Walter Anderson Nursery or at most Nurseries around San Diego. Auto Watering systems can be attached to soaker hoses that surround the drip line of the tree. For more information on installation of automatic watering systems, watch this video by CityPlants here at minute 1:50


Mulching helps save water and promotes healthy root growth. Placing mulch like wood chips around the base of your tree has many benefits, from reducing temperature, to keeping out weeds, to protecting from moisture extremes. It’s best to place mulch 2 – 4 inches deep and cover as much of the tree’s root system as possible. Keep mulch 4 – 6 inches away from your tree’s trunk.

More info about mulching? Go to the Sacramento Tree Foundation website here to find specific instruction on mulching


During the first two years, leave lower branches on your young trees to encourage growth. After two years, you can begin shaping your tree for healthy structure. Do not remove more than 25% of the tree’s live branches in one year, and make sure there is always one central leader to encourage good structural growth.

For more detailed information on young tree pruning, check out the Arbor Day Foundation’s Young Tree Pruning Guide, 2 pages.

Or visit Sacramento Tree Foundation’s Pruning resource page here

Remember, never “top” your tree!

Street Trees

Remember those street trees! If you’ve opted to water, plant or care for a tree on your street, remember that watering in the first three years on a weekly basis is critical to your street trees survival. Watch this video on how to easily water street trees starting at minute 2:50

Protect your tree

Check out our page on how you can better care for your tree from vandalism, threat of being removed and pests at our page here on tree protection

Look into contacting an arborist to prune and check up on your trees health periodically