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Whether you start from a small sapling or opt for a more mature tree, planting trees in your yard has numerous benefits that continue to grow with time. Some of the many advantages of planting trees in your outdoor space are that it ups your curb appeal and helps increase the value of your home. Additionally, these trees serve as additional habitat for local wildlife, provide more shade with maturity, and even protect your home from soil erosion, nutrient depletion, harsh winds, and brutal sun. You’ll get a tasty reward for all of your effort when you choose fruit trees for your yard.
All these benefits are undeniable, but many take a long time to realize, especially if you’re starting with a sapling. Homeowners and gardeners have tried all the tricks in the book to make trees grow quickly to realize these benefits sooner. While some of these methods are epic fails, we’ve found six reliable ways to make trees grow faster.
Obviously, there’s no miracle technique that will magically make your tree transform from sapling to fully mature overnight. But, this doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to help support your tree’s growth, ensuring a long, healthy life and steady growth. Here are six things you can do to make your trees grow faster.
Before you even plant your tree, it’s a good idea to get to know the soil in your yard. Two main things you should look for are soil compaction and pH.
Soil compaction will affect the trees’ ability to spread their network of roots. Planting trees in hard soils, like clay, can result in weak root systems that struggle to hold a large tree upright and access nutrients for healthy growth.
Your yard’s pH is essentially the level of nutrients in the soil. Some tree varieties require more acidic soil, while others prefer more neutral or alkaline soil. For best results, you want to choose trees that will thrive in your yard’s natural pH. If your heart is set on a specific variety that is not well-suited for your yard, you can adjust the pH with various additives and fertilizers.
Testing your soil pH at home is easy. You can pick up an at-home pH test at most home improvement stores with gardening centers. These kits will outline the easy steps to test your soil. Some are also designed to simply have you mail a sample of your soil into a lab for more detailed results.
To test soil compaction at home, you can use a penetrometer, which you can find at a gardening center. Or, you can simply take a soil sample in your hand and clump it into a ball. If the ball stays intact, your soil is hard, and you should add in a mixture (like potting soil) for better drainage.
Avoid crowding your trees when planting. It’s easy to plant trees closely together, forgetting their true size in full maturity. Placing your trees too closely together can adversely affect their ability to grow.
For starters, when trees are close together, their root networks can become entangled, causing them to fight for water and nutrients. Likewise, if one tree should get sick, there is a high risk of it easily affecting the other nearby trees.
When you plant your tree, consider the full size the tree will grow to when it is fully mature. Allot this much space for the tree trunk, then add an additional three feet of space. For instance, if you plant a dogwood tree with an average trunk diameter of 1-foot, you’ll want to place your tree in the center of a circle with a 7-foot diameter. By adding this extra space, you are helping give your tree a fighting chance to get the nutrients it needs for healthy growth.
An often overlooked way to make trees grow faster is to plant grafted trees. Grafted trees reproduce the fruit, structure, and characteristics of a similar plant in which you are propagating. Trees grafted from vigorous rootstock will grow faster and develop quicker. FastGrowingTrees.com specializes in selling grafted trees of all sorts.
Staking your tree when you plant it helps reduce the pressure from the rootball, allowing its trunk to grow vertically and its root system to take hold. Typically, you’ll want to support your tree for the first six months to one year after planting or one growing season. However, when you stake your tree, you want to use the least invasive supports and wiring to avoid injuring the tree.
In addition to support, you want to protect your tree from small animals and lawn equipment. Translucent tubes can easily fit over young trees, protecting them from damage while simultaneously providing a greenhouse effect that supports growth for the first years of the tree’s life.
Even once the tree grows, you want to protect it from damage (especially from weed whackers and lawn mowers). The best way to do this is to have plenty of space around the tree, use lawn edging to separate the lawn from the tree’s base, and maintain a thick layer of mulch to prevent weeds and grass from growing close to the trunk where you’ll be tempted to use these tools too closely.
Our yards are the biggest competition for growing trees. While the root network of a tree is wide-reaching, it grows slowly. Grass, on the other hand, has roots that grow quickly and easily absorb nutrients and water, taking it before it can even reach the deep roots of your trees. Removing the grass and other plants around your trees is the best way to tackle this issue.
The best way to keep grass away from the trunk of your tree is to cover the area with newspaper or cardboard and cover it in a thick layer of mulch. The newspaper or cardboard will kill the grass underneath and break down over time.
Many homeowners turn to fertilizer to stimulate tree growth, but an organic solution is to use compost. You can easily make compost at home with a kit or simply dump kitchen scraps at the tree’s root zone.
As these scraps break down (think banana peels, coffee grounds, tea leaves, eggshells, etc.), they create humus. This humus is full of nutrients that are transferred to your tree, stimulating healthy growth. You can add compost once a year or as you have it. The frequency is up to you, as it’s difficult to add too much. While composting often gets a bad rap for being smelly, it doesn’t have to be as long as it’s done correctly.
Growing trees require the perfect amount of water. Too much or too little water will harm the tree’s growth. Ideally, you want soil that is damp but not soggy. You also want the soil to dry out every 4 to 6 hours so oxygen can get down into the soil.
Plenty of tools are available on the market to help your trees get the water deep down to their roots. One of the most popular tools is tree watering bags that slowly release water to the tree’s roots. Maintaining a thick layer of mulch around the tree’s trunk can also help keep moisture in the soil, keeping it from drying out too quickly in the hot summer months.
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to whether you need to use fertilizer to make your trees grow fast. The pH of your lawn will dictate whether this measure is necessary. If you have a healthy lawn and your soil’s pH is what the species of tree needs, then you don’t need fertilizer to stimulate growth. However, if your pH differs from what your tree requires, consider using fertilizer. Just be sure to select the fertilizer that will get your soil to the proper pH, so your tree gets the nutrients it needs to grow.