Conservation Seedling Program - Seedling Care


Weed control is extremely important in establishing young seedlings. Weeds are better competitors for moisture, nutrients and sunlight than the seedlings. Mulch should be used to retain moisture and minimize competition from weeds. Utilizing fabric mulches or organic mulches (bark, old straw or hay) will greatly increase the seedlings ability to survive by retaining moisture and inhibiting weed growth. Organic mulches should be placed around the seedling at 4" to 6" depths and within a 4' diameter circle around the seedling.


Irrigation is needed at planting time and is often helpful throughout the first several growing seasons. A good guideline is to thoroughly soak the soil and allow it to partially dry before irrigating again. First - year seedlings require 1 to 2 gallons of water per week, second - year growth about 2 - 3 gallons per week, third - year about 3 to 4 gallons/week. Irrigating before freeze-up is helpful for all seedlings, especially evergreens. Also, during extended winter dry periods, seedlings often need irrigating.


Most evergreen seedlings need protection from drying winds and scorching sun. Pine and juniper are generally more tolerant to sun than spruce or fir. Shade can be provided by using existing vegetation, rocks or logs and are the easiest and most economical to use. However, there are some commercially manufactured that may be used as well.


Deer, elk and rodents can destroy plantings in a short amount of time. Fencing is the most effective means of minimizing damage. Using individual plastic seedling protectors such as "tree shelters" may also minimize animal damage. Some consist of plastic nets which are effective for 2 -3 growing seasons. Others are corrugated plastic tubes which completely enclose the seedling. Many commercial repellents can also be used to protect plantings from animal damage.


The best approach to short term storage is to be ready to plant when you receive the seedlings. Having the site prepared and equipment ready to go upon arrival of the stock from the nursery is important. If conditions will not allow planting, look for areas that will protect seedlings from the elements of direct sun and drying winds. A cool, shady spot such as on the north side of your house or garage, under a mature tree, or a similar spot is sufficient to hold containerized seedlings for as long as the planting season. Tear the box down the four corners to the top of the seedling container and fold down. This allows your seedlings important air circulation. The seedlings can be watered right in the box. Water every 3 to 5 days depending on the weather. Trees will use less water on cool days. Provide enough water to completely water the soil plug in the container. WATER ONLY IN THE MORNING! This allows the foliage of the seedling to dry out and reduces the chance of disease.


If you need further information concerning where, when, and how to plant your seedlings, contact your local EMNRD Forestry Division Office.

Santa Fe Main Office
1220 S. St. Francis Drive
Santa Fe, NM 87505
(505) 476-3325

Carol Bada
Conservation Seedling Program Coordinator

(505) 476-3334

District 1

HC 75, Box 100
Chama, NM 87520
District 2

P.O. Box 5
Ute Park, NM 87749
District 3

HC 32, Box 2 1701 Enterprise
Socorro, NM 87801
District 4

HC 33, Box 109 #4
Las Vegas, NM 87701
District 5

P.O. Box 277
Capitan, NM 88316
District 6

5105 Santa Fe Hills Blvd NE
Rio Rancho, NM 87144

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