Caring For European Beech

Beeches need watering most when they're first planted, during droughts and in late fall before the ground freezes. During these times, run drip irrigation or a hose for 20 to 30 minutes every week or 10 days whenever the soil seems dry. Older, well-established trees may need watering only during severe drought.
Mature European beeches spread so wide that they shade an enormous area around their trunk. Covered with the maze of shallow, fibrous feeding roots that typically protrude above the ground, the soil under these trees cannot support plants or ground covers. A 2 to 3 inch layer of organic mulch over these areas looks attractive. At the same time it helps to maintain soil moisture, discourages weeds and protects the roots and trunk from injury. Spread chopped leaves, wood chips, shredded bark or similar material, either alone or over landscape fabric laid on the soil first. Spread it from about 6 inches from the trunk all around the tree out to the tips of the branches (drip line).
Feed beeches once a year with fertilizer. Sprinkle it on the soil under the tree out to 1 1/2 times the distance from the trunk to the tips of the branches. If the distance is 10 feet then fertilize out to 15 feet from the trunk. Do not permit the fertilizer to touch the trunk, limbs and leaves of the tree.
For more information see file on Choosing Fertilizer.
While beech trees do not require pruning, they tolerate considerable cutting back and can be trained to a variety of shapes. Prune when they are dormant in the fall. Multiple leaders are a common cause of limb splitting in older trees, so select one main branch when trees are young and prune back secondary leaders. As they become older, remove the lowest branches to reveal the handsome trunk, or leave them if you prefer the imposing effect of having them sweep to the ground. To train beeches as a hedge, plant young trees about 2 feet apart, and cut back by 1/2. Let them grow one full season without further pruning. Trim lightly each year until the hedge reaches the desired size. Then, each time you shear, allow ¼-inch of the newest growth to remain.
For more information see files on Pruning Trees and Choosing Pruning Tools.

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