planting tree tips

Arboriculture for Amateurs – Tree Care 101

Trees are one of the essential life forces of the planet, providing a huge carbon sink and returning to us oxygen, food, ground stability and natural beauty. They are a central point of sustainable living and, even when felled, they provide the very foundations for many of the world’s structures. It’s essential that humans know how to care for them – there is, however, no one-size-fits-all approach. With BGCI research concluding that there are 60,500 species of tree globally, sustainable tree care takes more than effort and a bucket of fertilizer.

Trees provide bountiful harvests and you can return the favor by learning the basic tenets of arboricultural care to leave a positive mark on the natural environment around you.

The importance of soil

Binding together the growth of nearly every plant on earth is its substrate. Whilst sometimes rock, and occasionally sand, most plants thrive in soil.  Research by author Peter Wohlleben has shown that trees are aware of the soil they grow into, and so it is essential that the pH levels and mineral content of the substrate is ideal for the tree you’re trying to grow or nurture. Experts writing for The Tree Care Guide ( advocate careful and thorough testing of soil using inexpensive kits, before any sort of planting. That way you can be sure that what you’re trying to grow will be able to flourish from day one.

Identifying allies and invaders

As a member of the natural world, trees will obviously interact with a wide range of other flora, fauna and microscopic animals. A lot of these will be helpful, while others will be harmful. Institutions including Cornell have developed fungi identification tools and this is a key area of improvement for any would-be arboriculturalist. It is crucial to be able to identify fungus growth and to treat it, as non-benign fungus can cause serious problems for healthy tree growth. Learn the common signs and symptoms of tree rot. There are a few invaders that can easily be identified using online tools. Left too long and without treatment, they will inevitably cause your tree to die.

Anticipating the winter

Some tree types are able to withstand the harshest winters. Evergreens like the Juniper are able to cope with awful weather conditions year round, as are the pines you see in postcards of  northern Canada and other Arctic-circle territories. Not all trees are this fortunate, however, and some need protecting in winter. Ensure the roots are deeply watered before the freeze sets in and set thick layers of protective mulch around the base to prevent frost from permeating fully into the roots.

When purchasing or planting a tree, be sure to do your research. You want to find one that suits your climate and soil conditions. Knowing how to properly care for it will ensure you are able to hand over a healthy tree to future generations.


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

Check out our Books!