Proper Tree Planting
There are many reasons to plant trees in your yard—shade, privacy, barriers, or to bear fruit. Even if it is just to enhance the beauty of your property, there are ways to go about it that will ensure a new tree has a healthy, long life in your landscape.
Before You Plant
Time is of the essence. The proper time to plant a tree is during the dormant season, which is after the autumn leaf drop but before buds appear in the spring.
Choose wisely. Be sure to pick a tree that thrives in your region’s climate and soil type, and can endure the amount (or lack) of sunlight your yard receives.
Safety first. Avoid planting beneath power lines or too close to your home or other structures on your property. Before digging, it’s wise to call your utility company to make sure there are no underground lines or pipes.
Site suitability. Trees need plenty of room to grow both underground (the root system) and above ground (branches and canopy). Planting one too close to a sidewalk or driveway can cause unsightly buckling or damage.
The hole truth. Dig a shallow but broad hole that is two to three times wider than the root ball, container, or spread of the bare roots. Common tree planting mistakes are not making the hole wide enough and making it too deep. Measure the root ball depth to make sure the root collar will be at, or a little above, ground level when the tree is planted.
After you make your selection, the way the tree is prepared will determine the proper planting technique.
Balled and burlapped trees. A tree that has roots that are either balled in twine or wrapped in burlap should be planted as soon as it is brought home. If you can’t get to it right away, store it in a shady area and keep the ball moist. Burlap and/or twine should be completely removed. Always pick up a tree by the root ball, never its trunk, when placing it in the hole. Once the tree is settled in the hole, with the trunk flare (where the trunk expands at the base) partially visible above the ground, fill in the remainder of the hole with soil. Make sure the tree is straight, then gently compress the soil, making sure not to pack it too tightly—this prevents water from properly reaching the newly planted roots.
Trees in containers. The method of planting a tree that arrives with its root system in a container is fairly similar to that of balled or burlapped trees. Carefully remove the tree from the container and examine the roots. If they are too tightly bound, use your hands or a blunt tool to separate and spread the roots out a bit. This needs to be done for the roots to expand and grow properly.
Bare-rooted trees. Trees that arrive with no soil around the roots should be planted as soon as possible. The roots should be examined to make sure they are moist and healthy. Once the tree is situated straight in the hole, the roots need to be manually spread out to encourage growth. The hole is then refilled with some of the dirt that was originally dug out.
Maintaining Newly Planted Trees
A newly planted tree should be watered immediately—and often—using a low-pressure water hose. The soil needs to be moist, but not overly soaked, and watered at least once a week if there isn’t much rain.
Trees may develop quicker and become stronger if they are not staked after planting. But staking is required if the tree is located in a windy location. Don’t tie a newly planted tree too tightly to a stake, and the support needs to be removed after the first year of growth.
Mulching around a newly planted tree can help the soil stay moist, plus the roots won’t have to compete with grass or other plants for water and nutrients. It also protects the tree from possible damage that can occur during mowing or edging.
Newly planted trees require little, if any, pruning. If necessary, only cut out diseased or damaged branches.
If you need assistance choosing the proper tree and planting it in your yard, contact Elite Tree Care today at 610-935-2279.
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