“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
To plant a tree is to invest into the future. With all the varieties of trees from gorgeous decorative specimen trees to common run of the mill woodland features, where you want to plant is key to picking the right plant for the right place. If you are unsure about a tree’s growth habit, online resources work…sometimes; but everyone in the green industry uses manuals s uch as Manual of Trees and Woody Ornamentals by Michael Dirr. Also asking knowledgeable staff at Nurseries and Wholesalers helps too.
Once you have found the perfect tree, the site must be prepared, like digging the hole. I know digging a hole sounds simple enough right? Well not so much, there is sound methods to insure the health and vitality of your tree by how you dig the hole and plant the tree.
Always dig the hole no deeper than the rootball from the trunk flare to the bottom. Most tree roots even ones with a deep tap root always extend out within 6-12 inches of the soil depth. It is recommended to dig out 3-5 times the diameter of the root ball.
Tree Care Before & After Planting
Once the hole is dug and your tree is in place, remove the burlap and wire cage. I repeat REMOVE BURLAP AND WIRE CAGE. Leaving it on will ultimately be the demise of your tree. Burlap does not degrade fast enough for roots to grow through. The roots then will grow thicker near the wire cage and grow into metal which will strangle or cut off the main arteries of growth.
It’s not necessary but oftentimes I use a technique called ‘puddling’ when planting trees. It’s when you fill the hole with tree or shrub with water and then wait for it recede. It helps to insure that your tree got adequate watering while planting cause burlap when in nurseries can suck up water faster than the rootball can receive. After the water recedes, then I backfill.
It is not necessary to add compost or amended soil to the hole; use what you dug out. You want the roots to acclimate to their now home soil and reach out for nutrients and growth. Its been discovered when back fill was added with compost or amended soil, the roots will stay in that area instead of spreading out. Eventually the roots grow and inevitably strangle itself. Also without the proper anchoring, a tree even properly staked will be wobbly and not strong and it will more likely to fall uprooting itself.
After backfilling, make sure the root flare is exposed. It is recommended to create a circular burm with newly planted trees. It helps to maintain better water retention and intake. Also the tree should be lightly mulched for keeping roots cool, weed prevention, and moisture.
Staking & Watering
Now the art of staking. The new rule is to stake at an angle, lower on the trunk with rubber tree bands.
Water your newly planted tree two to three times a week, preferably in the morning. Do not spray water over tree onto leaves. Water the tree low directly in the near the root flare, filling up within the circular burm. Let it drain and repeat once more. When the tree is planted continue to water like this till November up here in Western Massachusetts.
Then one day, you and future generations will be sitting under the shade of your tree.
Images 1) University of Minnesota extension 2) Royal Horticultural Society