Caring for trees

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Apple tree (Pyrus) © Ita McCobb

Caring for your tree month by month

Always try to keep the soil around the base of your tree quite firm and never let it become too dry or cracked – but equally, never let it get too wet – just dampish is the better option.


In January, thin out dead and diseased branches from established trees. Prevent the weight of snow breaking down the branches of conifers by keeping them cleared of snow – which can become very heavy during persistent snowfalls. For young conifers, you can tie their branches together with hessian to stop the weight of the snow causing them to snap.

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In February, clear any ivy that may be growing around your tree’s trunk, taking care not to damage the tree bark. Also clear any moss or lichen that may have grown on the tree’s bark – a tar-oil wash works quite well for this.

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In March, top-dress young and newly planted trees with manure (if you can get it and the neighbours won’t complain!), or use peat, compost or a branded compost from your local garden centre.

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In April/May, water newly planted trees during dry weather and protect with a mulch of lawn cuttings or a branded mulch from your local nursery – you can even use black plastic sheeting.

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In June/July/August, remove any self-sown seedlings from around the base or in the locality of your tree.

Lightly prune deciduous trees that have finished flowering.

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In September/October, start planting deciduous trees towards the end of the month during fine weather – avoiding frosty or wet conditions.

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In November/December, re-firm soil around newly planted trees that may have been loosened by frost. Protect young trees from frost damage by covering them with horticultural fleece.

And most of all – take time to enjoy your tree(s) – all year round!

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References: University of Michigan; UN-REDD programme; United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); National Geographic; World Wildlife Fund;; Rainforest Connection (RFCx); The Forestry Commission UK; Forestry, An International Journal of Forest Research; US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service; The Woodland Trust;; US Environmental Protection Agency; Cornell University; The Forestry Commission UK; Cornell University; Food & Agriculture Organization of the UN; Institute of Chartered Foresters; Botanical Gardens Conservation International; International Plant Sentinel Network (IPSN); Zac Goldsmith in collaboration with The Countryside Restoration Trust, The Threat to England’s Trees; United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service.