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Care for a Birch Tree

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Care for a Birch Tree

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Overview

Birch trees are commonly grown in yards across the United States as either shade trees or ornamental trees. While most birch trees can live for 40 to 50 years, in the home environment most do not last that long, according to the USDA Forest Service. If you want your birch tree to live a long life it is important to choose a type of birch that is compatible with your USDA climate zone and care for it properly.

Step 1

Choose a birch tree that is right for your climate and select a place in your yard to plant the birch tree. They need full sun and well-drained, moist soil in which to grow well. Slightly acidic soil is fine but some types of birch trees grow poorly in alkaline soil. Add sulfur to alkaline soil to even out the pH balance. Add 6 to 8 inches of compost to your soil to improve its condition before you plant the birch tree.

Step 2

Dig a hole for the birch tree as deep as the rootball and three times as wide. Loosen the birch tree's roots and place the tree in the hole. Fill the hole with soil and water it with 2 inches of water to allow the soil to settle around the roots.

Step 3

Mulch around the birch tree's roots to keep them cool. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch with a 6-foot diameter for newly planted trees and a 12-foot diameter for mature trees. Do not allow the mulch to touch the birch tree's trunk. Organic mulch such as pine chips or leaves work best.

Step 4

Water the birch tree once a week for two to three hours each time. Lay a hose down near the birch tree's trunk and allow a slow but steady stream of water to soak the birch tree's roots.

Step 5

Prune your birch tree in the mid- to late spring. Remove any dead, damaged or diseased branches with the pruning saw right before the tree's branch collar, the black line around the branch of the birch tree. Remove any drooping branches, water sprouts or vertical branches right before the branch collar with the pruning saw as well.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not prune the birch tree from May through July to avoid infection from the bronze birch borer.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Cultivator
  • Spade
  • Pruning saw

References

  • USDA Forest Service: Grow and Maintain a Healthy Birch Tree
  • Garden Line: Guide to Birch Trees
Keywords: birch tree care, caring for birches, birch trees

About this Author

Hollan Johnson is a freelance writer for many online publications including Garden Guides and eHow. She is also a contributing editor for Brighthub. She has been writing freelance since 2008 and her interests are travel, gardening, sewing, and Mac computers. Prior to freelance writing, Johnson taught English in Japan. Johnson has a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada.