University of Maryland Extension

Best Practices for Trees and Shrubs

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How to Choose and Care for Trees and Shrubs

  • Know the mature height and width of the plants you choose before you plant. Pruning will not keep a plant too large for its space the correct size. Pruning actually stimulates growth. Right Plant - Right Place!
  • Buy from a reputable nursery and thoroughly inspect plant material before purchasing.
  • landscape with trees and shrubsDo not purchase plants with visible defects, poor branch structure, trunk wounds, or with pot bound or compromised root systems. 
  • Planting depth is critical to the establishment and viability of trees and shrubs. Plant so that the base of the trunk is at the original ground level or slightly higher. Tree root flares or root collars, should be visible at ground level. After planting remove any excess soil covering the root flare or root collar at the base of the tree. 
  • Avoid applying  (PDF) excess mulch and creating "mulch volcanoes." This causes future problems for trees and shrubs.
  • Avoid planting one type of tree or shrub as a screen (a monoculture). Diseases and insects are typically host specific so you run the risk of loosing the entire screen if a pest or disease attacks your plants. Select several different types of trees and shrubs to prevent this from occurring
  • Never top a tree to control its size. (PDF) Prune properly
  • Practice IPM (Integrated Pest Management) in your landscape. Do not spray your trees and shrubs preventively. This also kills the predators and parasitoids that are helping to keep destructive pests under control.
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