Healthy Instructions for
Planting Trees

Planting Trees.

Think of the tree you just purchased as a lifetime investment.

How well your investment grows depends on the type of tree and location you've selected. The care you provide when the tree is in the ground, and follow-up care the tree receives after.

The ideal time for trees and shrubs is during the dormant season—in the fall after leaf drop or early spring before buds open. Weather conditions are cool and allow plants to establish roots in the new location before spring rains and summer heat stimulate new top growth.

Trees properly cared for in the nursery or garden center and given the appropriate care during transport to prevent damage can be planted throughout the growing season. In tropical and subtropical climates where trees grow year round, any time is a good time to plant a tree, provided that sufficient water is available.

In either situation, proper handling during this time is essential to ensure a healthy future for new trees and shrubs. Before you begin, be sure you have had all underground utilities located prior to digging.

If the tree you are buying is balled or bare root, it is important to understand that its root system has been reduced by 90 to 95 percent of its original size during transplanting.

As a result of the trauma caused by the digging process, Planting Trees commonly exhibit what is known as transplant shock.

Containerized trees may also experience transplant shock, particularly if they have circling roots that must be cut.

Transplant shock after Planting Trees is indicated by slow growth and reduced vigor following transplanting.

Proper site preparation before and during Planting Trees and Shrubs, coupled with good follow-up care reduces the amount of time the plant experiences transplant shock and allows the tree to quickly establish (heal in) in its new location.

This is not Your Father's Tree.

Research shows new techniques to Planting Trees and caring for your investments..

Carefully follow these simple steps, and you can significantly reduce the stress placed on your trees at the time of planting.

Dig a Shallow, Broad Hole.

Make the hole wide, two to three times the diameter of the root ball but only as deep as the root ball. It is important to make the hole wide when Planting Trees because the roots on the newly establishing tree must push through surrounding soil in order to establish.

On most sites in new developments, the existing soils have been compacted and are unsuitable for healthy root growth. Breaking up the soil in a large area around the tree provides the newly emerging roots room to expand into loose soil to hasten establishment.

There is no need to amend the soil. Research shows that trees will establish themselves better in the original soils. By adding top soils, manures and mulch, the tree roots want to stay in the comfort zone instead of stretching out.

Identify the trunk flare.

The trunk flare is where the roots spread at the base of the tree. This point should be partially visible after the tree has been planted.

If the trunk flare is not partially visible, you may have to remove some soil from the top of the root ball.

Find it so you can determine how deep the hole needs to be for Planting Trees.

Before you Remove tree container for containerized trees, water it well and allow it to hydrate.

Carefully cutting down the sides of the container may make this easier. Inspect the root ball for circling roots and cut or remove them.

Girdling roots will continue to grow in circles, causing a slow death to your tree. Expose the trunk flare, if necessary.

For bare root trees and shrubs, you will want to soak them in a bucket of water for a 24 hour period.

Snip off the scarred tips (about 1/4 inch). The fresh cut allows for better drinking and will scar over after you plant your new trees or shrubs.

The new cuts will force your plants to grow new and healthy feeder roots.

Root boost will enhance root growth when following label instructions.

When Planting Trees, place the tree at the proper height.

Before placing the tree in the hole, check to see that the hole has been dug to the proper depth—and no more.

The majority of the roots on the new tree will develop in the top 12 inches of soil. If the tree is planted too deeply, new roots will have difficulty developing because of a lack of oxygen. It is better to plant the tree a little high, 2 to 3 inches above the base of the trunk flare, than to plant it at or below the original growing level.

Allow for some settling.

To avoid damage when setting the tree in the hole, always lift the tree by the root ball and never by the trunk.

Straighten the Tree in the Hole.

Before you begin back filling, have someone view the tree from several directions to confirm that the tree is straight. Once you begin back filling, it is difficult to reposition the tree.

Fill the Hole Gently but Firmly.

Fill the hole about one-third full and gently but firmly pack the soil around the base of the root ball. Then, if the root ball is wrapped, cut and remove any fabric, plastic, string, and wire from around the trunk and root ball to facilitate growth. Be careful not to damage the trunk or roots in the process.

Fill the remainder of the hole, taking care to gently pack soil to eliminate air pockets that may cause roots to dry out. To avoid this problem, add the soil a few inches at a time and settle with water. Continue this process until the hole is filled and the tree is firmly planted.

It is not recommended to apply fertilizer at the time of planting except a little root stimulator if you chose to do so.

Plant a tree Diagram

Stake the Tree, if Necessary.

If the tree is grown and dug properly at the nursery, staking for support will not be necessary in most home landscape situations.

Studies have shown that trees establish more quickly and develop stronger trunk and root systems if they are not staked at that time.

However, protective staking may be required on sites where lawn mower damage, vandalism, or windy conditions are concerns.

If staking is necessary for support when Planting Trees, there are three methods to choose among: staking, guying, and ball stabilizing. One of the most common methods is staking.

With this method, two stakes used in conjunction with a wide, flexible tie material on the lower half of the tree will hold the tree upright, provide flexibility, and minimize injury to the trunk.

Remove support staking and ties after the first year of growth.

Mulch the Base of the Tree.

Mulch is simply organic matter applied to the area at the base of the tree. It acts as a blanket to hold moisture, it moderates soil temperature extremes, and it reduces competition from grass and weeds.

When placing mulch, be sure that the actual trunk of the tree is not covered.

Some good choices are leaf litter, pine straw, shredded bark, peat moss, or composted wood chips. A 2- to 4-inch layer is ideal. More than 4 inches may cause a problem with oxygen and moisture levels.

Avoid the volcano look with your mulch.

Doing so may cause decay of the living bark at the base of the tree(crown rot). A mulch-free area, 1 to 2 inches wide at the base of the tree, is sufficient to avoid moist bark conditions and prevent decay.

Provide Follow-Up Care.

Keep the soil moist but not soaked. Over watering causes leaves to turn yellow or fall off. More young trees are killed by over watering than lack of water.

Water trees at least once a week, barring rain, and more frequently during hot weather. When the soil is dry below the surface of the mulch, it is time to water. Continue until mid-fall, tapering off for lower temperatures that require less-frequent watering.

Other follow-up care may include minor pruning of branches damaged. Prune sparingly immediately after and wait to begin necessary corrective pruning until after a full season of growth in the new location.

Tree Wraps can Make a Difference.

For the first couple of winters, you may want to wrap your new investment with a simple tree wrap.

Wrapping the trunks of young trees will keep the fur creatures from gnawing at the bark and killing your tree before it makes it to spring.

Wrapping also deters what is known as Southwest canker. Southwest canker is caused from exposure to the winter sun. The tree juices thaw and freeze and the bark eventually splits up the trunk of your young trees. Usually on the Southwest side of the tree.

If you are Planting Trees in autumn, you might as well wrap them too.

Return to the Top of Planting Trees

Testing your Soil's pH

Native Trees for Your Wildlife.

Shrubs For Your Wildlife Gardens

The Beauty of Native Grasses

Add Native Flowers

Don't forget Bird Feeders

Be sure to Offer Water

Offer Nest Boxes for Certain Birds

Hummingbird Flowers

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