Think back to the day you planted your latest tree. It may have been during Arbor Day, which recently passed in April, or during the fall planting season. You did your research to find the perfect planting spot for your perfect tree. You properly planted the tree, mulched around it and topped it off with a drink of water.

Since then, you’ve been admiring the beauty that will offer benefits for you and your family for years to come.

But have you thought about long-term care and maintenance?

With hopes of increasing the number of healthy, long-lived landscape trees, many communities have created Tree Owner’s Manuals, or standards in care manuals. Some examples include DuPont’s Citizen’s Tree Care Guidelines and Spokane’s Tree Stewardship Guide. Just like any good owner’s manual that comes with automobiles and appliances, these booklets (or PDFs) provide straightforward instructions, useful tips, checklists for troubleshooting problems, and exceptionally clear illustrations. And, like other manuals, a Tree Care Manual should be kept in a familiar spot and used as a reference over the course of your tree’s life.

The latest version of the USDA Forest Service’s Tree Owner’s Manual, which was updated in 2021, is also available for download online here. This publication is a concise yet comprehensive guide to tree care basics. The manual covers the following topics:

  • Model Information and Parts Diagram (broad-leaf trees, palms and conifers)
  • Packaging (balled and burlapped, containerized, and bare root)
  • Installation (planting)
  • Maintenance Instructions (watering, mulching, pruning, and more)
  • Protecting Trees from Construction Damage
  • Service and Repair (how to hire an arborist)
  • Troubleshooting (common pests, diseases, and structural issues)
  • Removal and Disposal
  • Buying a New Tree
  • And more!

Are you a city administrator, planner, arborist or municipal forester? Learn more about creating manuals for tree planting and care by watching our Manual for Standards in Practice: Urban & Community Forestry Webinar Recording.

Meeting Recording: Click here to view the recording

Recording Access Passcode: $

This presentation goes over everything you need to know to begin creating or updating an urban forestry standards in practice manual for your community. An urban forest manual can be used concurrently with your municipal or county tree code. Manuals help staff, contractors, and volunteers quickly implement best management practices − widely accepted practices and standards used by industry professionals and based on the best available research.

Viewing this webinar is also a good opportunity to reflect on what may need updating if your community has already adopted a manual and goes over the basic tenants recommended for inclusion if your city is beginning to draft an urban forestry manual.