Whether you are a nature lover or city-slicker, you must agree that trees add a bit of beauty to any landscape. Not only do trees add color, texture, and interest, they are also essential to life on earth. Trees – sometimes called the “lungs of the planet” – quite literally help us breath by providing oxygen and by cleaning the air of harmful pollutants.
Trees can also reduce erosion and soil run off, as well as provide shade, a safe habitat for wildlife, and even healthy fruits. If you believe you are no green thumb and are reluctant to plant, think again. Planting trees can be a rewarding and low maintenance investment that will bring you joy for years to come.
Arguably, the trickiest part of owning and maintaining trees is the initial planting. But with a few tips and tricks, you’ll be enjoying your new, healthy tree in no time. We’ll follow these steps when planting your new trees in your yard:
Determine the best place to plant
Deciding on the type of tree you want to plant and where you want to plant it, go hand in hand. Sometimes the spot where you want to plant a tree will determine the type you buy. Whether it’s a large space, a spot that needs shade, or a place where you are looking to provide more privacy, what you want the tree to do, is as important as how it looks. Other times, you may be focused on how a particular tree looks and determine where to plant it based on its specific needs.
In either case, be sure you understand if the tree prefers full sun, room to spread, or requires special care. Then find the ideal location to plant.
Determine the best time to plant
Once you’ve decided where to plant your tree, determine the best time to plant. This is often at the first sign of spring when the ground is soft enough to dig but the summer heat is still a couple of months away. If it is close to high summer season, when the ground is warm and dry, you can risk putting too much stress on your new tree.
Some trees prefer to be planted in the cooler fall months when days are still warm but before the ground freezes. Give your tree enough time to establish its root system before the cold, harsh winter months to ensure the tree survives through the season.
Determine the correct depth
Probably the most difficult aspect of correct tree planting digging a hole that is deep enough, but not too deep. This can feel a bit like Goldilocks trying new beds. Remember that you are looking to plant the tree, not bury it.
The best way to find this ideal depth is to find the tree flare (sometimes called root flare or trunk flare). This is the area where the roots begin to “flare” out from the trunk of the tree and where the tree begins to broaden just at the soil line. The trunk flare should be just as the surface of the soil line.
If your tree roots are wrapped in burlap or grown in a container, you may have to gently peel away dirt or soil to find the trunk flare.
Dig a wide hole (wider than you think you need)
Once you have the correct depth, so the tree will be firmly planted but not buried, make sure it is wide enough so that the roots can spread comfortably. When you set the tree in the hole, take the time to untangle and spread the roots.
Again, depending on how the tree root ball is shipped to you, this may require some careful work. You can take a knife and cut roots that are particularly tangled. By spreading the roots, you will ensure proper soil to root connection and give the tree a strong sturdy foundation on which to grow.
Fill in the hole with native soil
It may be tempting to fill your hole with expensive fertilizers or organic materials meant to improve the health of soil but resist this temptation. For your tree to thrive, it should be covered with the same soil you dug out of the hole.
Make sure you have good soil to root contact by breaking up any large clumps of dirt and eliminate big rocks. Eliminate any air pockets as they can result in dead roots. One way to do so is watering the soil as you fill in the hole.
Mulch is great for new trees as it helps retain moisture and keeps roots cool. Just be sure not to over mulch so you have a “volcano” around the tree trunk. This can trap moisture and cause root rot.
Water early and often
Once your tree is snug in the ground, be sure to give it plenty of water. How much water depends on the type of soil, drainage and your climate, but the soil should be consistently moist (not wet). Because it can be difficult to know what is going on underneath the surface, pay close attention to how your tree is responding. Are the leaves becoming discolored or droopy? Then it may be time to lay off watering.
With some attention to detail, you’ll have happy, healthy trees to enjoy for years to come! Give us a call if you need help planting one or more new trees in your yard.