Homeowners Guide for Beautiful, Safe & Healthy Trees

Trees are an asset to the community and the environment. They add significantly to land value while at the same time purifying the air and providing climate control and noise abatement. Poor tree health is a significant problem, and unfortunately, it is people who are mainly responsible for this condition. We are proud of our trees and their contribution to cleaner air in Freehold Township, and by protecting this valuable asset, we leave a community-wide legacy of caring and beauty.

Freehold Township Shade Tree Commission was established in 1963. In 2001, the Township celebrated its 22nd year as a "Tree City USA," the longest consecutive record in Monmouth County.

To protect and preserve our valuable assets, we offer these guidelines to help ensure that your trees will be beautiful, safe, and healthy.

Give Trees a Good Start: Plan Ahead

Plant only what you can properly maintain. Choose planting sites thoughtfully, envisioning the new trees in maturity (physical space potential) and planting them in harmony with their potential growth and the existing site conditions. Avoid mistakes such as planting tall-growing trees under overhead utility wires. Also, keep in mind underground utilities prior to planting.

Plant Properly & Water Thoroughly

If undertaking major landscaping, having soil samples analyzed will prove to be a valuable tool in selecting the proper plant material for your site. (Soil sample bags and instructions may be obtained from Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Monmouth County Office at 732-431-7260.)

Do not crowd trees in small holes or in compacted soil. Plant the new tree at the same depth it grew in the nursery. The planting hole should never be deeper than the root ball. Planting 1 inch higher is always better. The width of the planting hole should be 2 times the width of the root ball - here, wider is better. Cut or remove all non-rotting material from the root ball, especially twine from around the trunk.

Do not fertilize or use herbicides around the tree at the time of planting. As with all chemicals, read the label first, then follow the directions.

If necessary, stake the tree to keep it upright the first year. Do not use materials for ties that will cut or damage the bark. Wide-type plastic chain or loosely secured wide strapping is acceptable in contact with the tree's trunk. Do not tie too tight and these ties must be removed after one year to prevent damage. Water thoroughly at the time of planting.

Avoid the Number 1 Problem: Lawn Mower Injury

Wounds on trees caused by lawnmowers, string trimmers, and other equipment leave the trees exposed to attack by insects and diseases that may result in irreversible damage. Provide mulch around the tree and maintain a grass-free area. Mulch depth should not exceed 3 inches. Do not mound mulch against tree trunk.

Water When Dry

All plants require water, even established trees and shrubs. During dry weather, do not forget to water the trees (taking into consideration any township water restrictions). A good soaking during drought conditions is needed for the trees to survive, especially newly planted street trees. Slow drip, soaker or trickle type watering is the best. This allows the maximum amount of water to be available to the tree by minimizing evaporation and runoff. Most lawn irrigation systems do not adequately penetrate the soil deep enough to provide sufficient moisture for the tree roots.

Avoid overwatering, which may cause roots to rot.

Help Trees Stay Healthy

  • Prepare planting site
  • Mulch around the tree and maintain a grass free area
  • Stake trees if needed, remove ties after one year
  • Prune properly to natural targets
  • Do not apply wound dressing
  • Protect against lawnmower and string trimmer damage
  • Water when needed

For Questions About Keeping Your Trees Healthy

  • National Arbor Day Foundation
  • Freehold Township Shade Tree Commission
    1 Municipal Plaza
    Freehold, NJ 07728
    Phone: 732-294-2073
  • Monmouth County Shade Tree Commission
    17 Lafayette Place
    P.O. Box 1255
    Freehold, NJ 07728-1255
    Phone: 732-431-7903
  • Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Monmouth County
    20 Court Street
    Freehold, NJ 07728
    Phone: 732-431-7260