Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to water my advanced tree?

Slow deep watering is the best way to supply water to the roots.  A set sprinkler is good, as long as the water is soaking in and not running off.  If afterwatering the soil is still dry 150mm below the surface try watering longer.

It is difficult to recommend watering times and amounts, as soil types and climatic conditions will affect how much water you will need to apply.

In general you need to maintain soil moisture at a constant level.  You can check soil moisture by digging down into the soil (not so close to the rootball that you risk damaging new roots).  Soil needs to feel moist, but not wet, the whole depth of the rootball.

Shallow watering (hosing your tree for a few minutes every night) is detrimental, as this encourages roots to seek moisture near the surface.  This leads to trees becoming shallow rooted, less resistant to drought and prone to wind damage.

Monitor soil moisture carefully in hot, dry or windy weather, as you may need to increase the amount and frequency of watering.

How do I know when I am watering enough?

Strangely the symptoms for overwatering and underwatering are fairly similar. When plants don't have enough water, leaves wilt and the tips and edges wither and brown, becoming crispy.  The leaves start to fall, and if left the tree will defoliate completely and die.  The best thing to do is to give the tree a deep, long water.  Make sure the water you apply is penetrating into the soil, not just running off the surface.

When a plant is overwatered, the tips and and edges of the leaves also turn brown and leaves die and fall.  This is because most plants take in oxygen from the soil.  If all of the "pore spaces" in the soil are full of water, and not a mix of air and water, the roots will start to die (from lack of oxygen).  This soon shows up in the leaves, with wilting, yellowing and dead blackened tips and edges.

A soil should be moist to touch at about 5cms from the surface.  If it is dry here water is needed.  If it is wet and you haven't recently watered, drainage is needed.

How and when should I feed my advanced trees?

Generally, depending upon the time of year and whether your trees are evergreen or deciduous, we recommend fertilising at the time of planting and the start of each growth flush, which is usually at the beginning of spring and autumn.

If planting an evergreen tree in winter, fertilise at the time of planting, as the tree is still growing.  However if planting a deciduous tree in winter, fertilise about 4 weeks before the start of spring.  Feeding deciduous trees before this tends to waste fertilizer as the plants are dormant and not taking food up, leading to the fertiliser being washed away.

Fertilisers can be broadly categorised into two types:

1.         Organic - Derived from plant residues and animal wastes

2.         Inorganic - Fertilisers manufactured out of different chemicals

 

These, for the purpose of the home gardener, can be further divided into two categories:
- Complete fertiliser
- Incomplete fertiliser

A complete fertiliser will contain, in varying percentages, a blend of the main elements required for healthy plant growth (N - Nitrogen, P - Phosphorous, and K - Potassium) as well as a range of other essential elements.  This is commonly shown on the label as a "NPK" rating.  For example, if a fertilizer shows a rating of 10 + 6.2 + 8.3 + TE it would contain 10% Nitrogen, 6.2% Phosphorous, 8.3% Potassium, plus trace elements.

Incomplete fertilisers only have one or two of the main elements, or may just be one trace element such as iron or calcium.

When planting an advanced tree, we generally recommend adding a fertiliser high in nitrogen, like blood and bone, and also a slow release complete (NPK rated) fertiliser, like Osmocote.

Blood and Bone works well, as it releases relatively quickly.  The nitrogen in it gives the plant a burst of energy to start growing actively and green up. Nitrogen can be added at any time if the plant starts to yellow.

A complete slow release fertiliser completes the picture by supplying a controlled amount of a full range of nutrients over a longer period.  The period of release is up to you (3-4 months, 6-9months, 12-18 months).  Just remember to re-apply when it runs out.

Should I mulch my newly planted advanced trees?

We recommend mulching the ground area around the tree (out at least as far as the drip line of the canopy) to a depth of 100mm.  This has several benefits:

1.         Reduces water evaporation from the soil by up to 70% (Sustaining Gardens in Dry Times, Victorian Government, 2008), helping to maintain soil moisture.
2.         Retards weed growth, reducing competition for valuable water and nutrient.
3.         Modifies soil temperature, keeping it cooler in summer and warmer in winter, providing a better environment for root growth.
4.         As mulch decomposes it provides valuable humus and nutrients.

When applying mulch keep it well back from the trunk of the tree to prevent trunk rot.

Mulch can be very absorbent, so regularly check soil moisture under mulch to ensure water is moving through the mulch into the soil.

What sort of mulch is best?

All mulches are good, but we prefer the mulches that release maximum nitrogen into the soil as they break down.  An example of this would be Lucerne hay, which is naturally high in nitrogen.  Mushroom mix also releases a good amount of nutrients as it decomposes.

Remember to reapply mulch as it decomposes to maintain benefit.

Do I need to prune my advanced tree?

Generally, depending on the variety, your tree will be pruned to establish shape and strength before you purchase it.  We have a regular program of in-nursery formative pruning to ensure trees are strong, well branched, true to type and with good caliper (trunk thickness).

After a year or two (in winter), deciduous trees should be pruned to maintain good shape.  Look for crossing branches, secondary leaders, and suckers - these can all be removed with a sharp pair of secateurs.  Depending how high off the ground you want the canopy to be, you may also wish to remove some lower branches at this time.

(*diagram)

Native and evergreen trees can be pruned throughout the year.  We find that they generally benefit from regular tip pruning to encourage bushiness and new growth.

Please feel free to ask us for a pruning plan when you purchase your advanced trees.

Do I need to spray for pests and diseases?

Where possible we avoid spraying our trees.  Healthy, vigorous trees have the ability to shake off pests and diseases when they occur on a minor scale. Large infestations however need to be addressed.  Try to use chemicals as a last resort.  Often there are cultural controls that should be tried first.

In order to identify any pests or diseases you may have, it is useful to take a sample (of either the actual pest or the damage caused) to your local nursery or garden centre.  This will assist them to advise you on the best plan of attack, and if required, the best product / chemical to purchase.

In general the most common problems fall into two groups:

1.         Insect Pests
- Controlled by chemicals called "pesticides" and "miticides?"
- Includes aphids, thrips, caterpillars, mites, beetles and grubs

2.         Plant Diseases
- Controlled by chemicals called "fungacides"
- Includes fungal and bacterial problems