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Compendium of Best Urban Forest Management Practices

Chapter 9. Maintenance: Watering, Mulching, Fertilizing, Cabling, Bracing, Recognition/Removal of Hazard Trees

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Maintenance: Watering, Mulching, Fertilizing, Cabling, Bracing, Recognition/Removal of Hazard Trees

Tree maintenance is important for ensuring the health and lifespan of a tree. Proper maintenance can reduce the stresses placed on newly planted and established trees. The greatest stress on newly planted (and sometimes established) trees is water stress. Watering is one of the most important parts of tree maintenance. Related to watering, mulching acts to conserve water on site, keep mowing equipment from damaging trees, and minimize compaction: a common problem in urban soils. Fertilizing urban trees is a common practice to ensure that proper nutrients are available to the tree in nutrient-poor city soils. Cabling involves the installation of wires high in the canopy to allow one tree’s branches to support another. Bracing is the installation of large bolts to keep trees from splitting open. Recognizing and removing hazard trees is an important part of urban forest management. Hazard-rating systems can help to prioritize trees for maintenance, using resources effectively. Additionally, invasive species may increase the need for tree maintenance to protect or restore the urban forest. For example, the Emerald Ash Borer has led the City of Montreal to remove thousands of impacted ash trees.

Canadian online resources:

Non-Canadian online resources: 

Further reading:

Miller, R. W., Hauer, R. J., & Werner, L. P. (2015). Urban Forestry: Planning and Managing Urban Greenspaces (3rd ed.). Long Grove, IL.: Waveland Press. Retrieved from*+maintain*&ots=DR__3quIDw&sig=VfMu3InQtW03Y-MlhNmnjEqUg1U#v=onepage&q=urban%20forest*%20maintain*&f=false

Sadof, C. S., Hughes, G. P., Witte, A. R., Peterson, D. J., & Ginzel, M. D. (2017). Tools for Staging and Managing Emerald Ash Borer in the Urban Forest. Arboriculture & Urban Forestry, 43(1), 15-26. Retrieved from

Vogt, J., Hauer, R. J., & Fischer, B. C. (2015). The Costs of Maintaining and Not Maintaining the Urban Forest: A Review of the Urban Forestry and Arboriculture Literature. Arboriculture & Urban Forestry 41(6), 293-323. Retrieved from


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