So You Want to Plant a Tree
Some things to think about:
What might you like? How does it grow? Disease resistant? Preferred micro-climate?
1. Where to plant? Too often trees and shrubs are planted too close to foundations and building. Consider the growth of the plant for the next 10-20 years. Does it prefer sun, shade, moisture, tolerant drought? Study the plants habits before you give it a “permanent” home.
2. Transporting: Always cover plants transporting them from the nursery to your home. Even a 20 mph wind can severely dry out a healthy plant and put in under stress before you even dig a hole.
3. The Hole: Generally it is recommended to dig the hole twice as wide as the root ball and no deeper than the height of the root ball. We like to set them a tad high. It is better to plant the tree a little high, an inch or two above the original growing level, than to plant it too deeply as the ball and plant will actually settle a bit and you don’t want the trunk below the soil level.
The soil that you dig out of the hole is what you use to backfill around the root ball. Most experts recommend that soil amendments are not needed. Therefore, no compost, peat moss, or shredded pine bark needs to be added to the backfill unless it’s hard-packed clay or rock filled. A plant needs to adjust and survive in its ambient environment. And don’t neglect to remove the burlap and cage, if the case.
4. Positioning Tree: Always lift the tree by the root ball and never by the trunk. Once the tree is in place, stand back, check that it’s straight. Then fill the hole about a third full and gently tamp the soil around the root ball. Check the position again and continue filling and firmly packing soil to eliminate air pockets that may cause roots to dry out.tamping soil.
5. Mulch: Mulch around the tree sufficiently to protect it from equipment and equalize soil temperate and retrain moisture. (See “Mulch Madness” section on this site)
6. To stake or not to stake? Trees need to move, “wiggle” into their spot and develop a strong trunk. For this reason most trees do not require staking. However, if the tree trunk is not sturdy enough (or there are other unstablalizing conditions, such as high winds or loose root base), use two to three stakes to give the trunk support for the first year only. Use a flexible tie material that does not cut into the bark.
7. Watering: Right after planting, water the tree by filling the basin with water. This will settle the existing soil around the root ball and force any possible pockets of air out of base. For the first three or four weeks, water the tree often enough to keep the soil evenly moist. A long slow thorough watering is most effective. Water once a week if needed after that. After that the tree should be able to thrive on natural rainfall and should be a joy for years to come.