You know it's important to keep a newly planted tree watered well. Here are a few more tips for caring for new trees, whether you plant them in spring or fall:
In most cases, skating is unnecessary for a newly planted tree, especially those with a trunk diameter of two inches or less. In fact, staking actually discourages the tree from forming a strong trunk. On a windy site, however, it may be necessary to anchor a new tree until its roots begin to penetrate the surrounding soil. Remove stakes one year after installation.
A bump from a lawn mower or the lash of a string trimmer can easily bruise the tender bark of a young tree, often causing a permanent scar, or even death. To provide some protection, enclose the trunk's base in a spiral plastic wrap-around collar made for this purpose. Then surround the young tree with a circle of mulch to eliminate the need to trim close to the tree's base. Don't pile the mulch against the tree trunk (a "mulch volcano"); leave a few inches bare to allow air circulation.
The wrap-around guard will also help keep mice and voles from gnawing the bark of the young tree. Where deer are common, drape the tree with plastic bird netting to prevent browsing. Remove the netting when the tree's branches are out of a deer's reach.