A sapling is a young tree with a trunk diameter of 5 inches or less. All tree saplings require extra attention as they become established in the orchard and the apple sapling is no exception. Apples require plenty of sunshine and well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5. An apple sapling is far too small for some of the pruning duties that will be required of you as it grows, but care of its other needs at this stage will assure a strong, healthy and productive tree.
Remove any weeds growing within a 3-foot radius of the apple sapling.
Transplant any trees or shrubs that are growing near enough to the apple sapling that they shade it.
Place a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch on the soil, completely surrounding the sapling. Keep the mulch 2 inches from the trunk and spread it out in a 1-foot radius. Remove the mulch in the fall. Mice love to burrow into it during the winter and will gnaw on the sapling for nourishment.
Water the sapling to keep the soil moist, but not saturated. It is important to pay close attention to the moisture of the soil, particularly during hot periods in the summer.
Apply a balanced fertilizer in early spring. Apply it at half the strength recommended, and according to the instructions on the package.