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New Tree Planting

Facts about proper procedures for planting a tree with a nine-step approach to effective planting and establishment.

Buying a tree is really a lifelong investment decision. How well this investment will grow is dependent upon the kind of tree chosen and the planting area, the care offered during planting, and also the follow-up care after planting.

When you should Plant

Preferably, trees are usually selected and planted throughout the inactive season - in the autumn after leaf drop or in springtime just before budbreak. Weather conditions are cool and enable plant life to create roots in the brand new location before spring down pours and summer heat promote new top growth. Healthy balled and burlapped or container trees and shrubs, however, can be grown through the entire growing season if given proper care. In tropical and subtropical climates where trees mature year-round, any time is a great time to place a tree, so long as adequate water can be obtained.

Planting Stress

Balled and burlapped trees shed a substantial portion of their root system when excavated in the nursery. Because of this, trees generally display what is known as “transplant shock.” Transplant shock is really a state of slowed down development and reduced strength following re-planting. Container trees might also encounter transplant shock, especially if they have circling or kinked roots that need to be cut. Appropriate site preparation, mindful handling to avoid additional root damage, and good follow-up care minimizes transplant shock and encourages faster recovery.

Properly stick to the nine easy steps below to help your tree establish quickly in the new spot.
Note: Before you start planting your tree, make sure you have located all underground utilities ahead of digging.

Make use of 2 opposing, flexible ties when staking is needed. Ties must be positioned on the lower half of the tree and allow trunk motion.

2- to 4-inch (5- to 10-cm) layer of thick mulch. Keep mulch one to two inches (2.5 to 5 cm) back from trunk

1. Determine the trunk flare. The trunk flare is where the trunk swells at the base of the tree. This point needs to be somewhat visible after the tree has been placed. Eliminate extra dirt from the top of the root ball just before planting if the root flare is not noticeable.

2. Dig a shallow, wide planting hole. Holes must be 2 to 3 times larger than the root ball, but only as deep as the root ball. Digging a wide planting pit breaks up the surrounding earth and supplies newly growing tree roots room to grow.

3. Get rid of the containers or trim away the wire basket. Check container tree root balls for circling roots. Straighten up, trim, or take them off. Reveal the trunk flare, if needed.

4. Position the tree at the correct height. Be certain to dig the hole to the correct depth - and no more. The majority of a tree’s roots grow in the top 12 inches (30 cm) of dirt. When the tree is rooted too deep, new roots will have trouble developing due to a lack of oxygen. In badly drained or heavily clayed soils, trees can be grown with the base of the trunk flare 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) above grade. When putting the tree within the hole, lift it by the root ball, not the trunk.

Trunk Flare

Get rid of containers, wrappings, wires and ties. Set ball on firmly packed soil to avoid settling. Gently pack backfill, making use of water to settle soil around the root ball.

5. Straighten up the tree within the pit. Before backfilling, have somebody look at the tree from several directions to verify it is straight. Once placed, it is not easy to reposition the tree.

6. Fill up the opening lightly, but firmly. Pack dirt around the bottom of the root ball to support it. If the root ball is wrapped, very carefully cut and remove any fabric, plastic, string, and/or wire from around the trunk and root ball to stop girdling and to facilitate root development. Fill the rest of the hole, firmly packing the soil to get rid of air pockets that could dry out roots. Further decrease air pockets by watering regularly while backfilling. Steer clear of fertilization at the time of planting.

7. Stake the tree, if needed. Research indicates that trees establish faster and develop stronger trunk and root systems if they're not staked during the time of planting. Staking may be needed, however, when planting bare root stock or planting on breezy sites. Stakes might also provide protection against lawnmower damage and vandalism. One or two stakes utilized in addition to a wide, versatile tie material on the lower part of the tree will hold the tree upright and reduce problems for the trunk, yet still allow for movement. Eliminate support staking and ties following the first year of development.

8. Mulch the base of the tree. Mulch is organic matter spread surrounding the bottom of a tree to hold water, moderate soil temperature extremes, and minimize grass and weed competition. Popular mulches include leaf litter, pine straw, shredded bark, peat moss, and also composted wood chips. A 2- to 4-inch (5- to 10-cm) layer is ideal. Greater than 4 inches (10 cm) could cause an issue with oxygen and moisture ranges. Piling mulch right up against the trunk of the tree might cause decay of the living bark. A mulch-free area, 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) wide at the base of the tree, minimizes moist bark conditions and helps prevent rot.

9. Offer follow-up care. Keep your soil moist, although not water-logged. Water trees at least one time per week, barring rain, and more often during hot, breezy weather. When the soil is dry underneath the top of the mulch, it's time to water. Continue until mid-fall, tapering off as lower temperatures call for less-frequent watering.

Additional follow-up care might include minor pruning of branches damaged during the growing process. Prune sparingly following planting and delay necessary remedial tree pruning until an entire season of growth in the new location has taken place.

Doing these 9 basic steps will increase the likelihood that your new tree will grow and flourish in its new home.
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