Tree Planting and Care

TheDCH can provide a wealth of information on tree care, including general care and maintenance guides, advice on hiring a professional arborist, the many benefits of urban trees, and tree identification and species information. In 2002, TheDCH completed an inventory of Wilmington’s street trees, which includes public access to view or search the database. TheDCH also utilizes a GIS layer of the tree inventory to plan future projects and track street tree work across the city. Contact Samuel Seo, Community Forester for more information.


Caring for your new tree

  • Water the tree
    Water is critical for a tree’s survival. New trees should be given 15-20 gallons of water per week beginning in the late spring and continuing through the summer. It may be necessary to water more frequently during hot weather. When watering with a hose, allow the water to drip into the base of the tree for at least one hour. Every 15 minutes, move the hose to a new position. If you have installed a Tree Gator bag, fill it at least twice a week. You can loan a gator bag from the Center for a small returnable deposit. This convenient device saves time, water, and reduces runoff and evaporation, allowing your tree to absorb more water.
  • Mulch the tree
    Mulch conserves water, moderates soil temperatures, reduces weeds, prevents soil compaction, and recycles organic matter into the soil. Apply 2-3 inches of shredded wood or composted leaves. Rake the mulch once each year to prevent the formation of a hard crust. Apply fresh mulch as necessary. 
  • Remove tree straps, wires and stakes after one year
    Tree straps that remain on a tree for more than one year may prevent proper trunk and root system development and girdle the tree.
  • Do not fertilize the tree
    During the First Year Over-fertilization can kill a tree and worsens transplant shock.
  • Cultivate the soil around the tree
    If the soil around the tree becomes compacted, oxygen and water will not be able to reach the roots. Gently loosen the soil to a depth of 4 inches before applying mulch. Do not put black plastic as a weed barrier around the tree, as it will prevent the tree roots from absorbing water and oxygen.
  • Keep area around the tree clean
    Weeds and trash can interfere with tree growth. Substances such as motor oil, detergent, de-icing salt and urine can kill a tree.
  • Protect the tree from injury
    Keep car doors, bicycles, lawn mowers and string trimmers away from the tree to prevent injury to the bark. Do not hammer nails into the tree. Wounds in the bark allow insects and diseases to enter the tree.
  • Plant flowers
    Planting annual flowers around the base of the tree will indicate when the tree needs to be watered and will discourage foot traffic over the roots of the tree.

Download an Illustrated Guide to Tree Planting and Care

Trees planted by
TheDCH in Delaware:

The Alliance for Community Trees, a national coalition, considers TheDCH one of most effective organizations in the country and praises our advocacy on urban forestry legislation.