March 3, 2020

Proper Tree Planting

tree planting.jpg

Now is the best time to plant a tree.
But if you’re going to plant a tree today, make sure you do it right.

Here are some best planting practices:
Remember to plant the proper tree in the proper place. Pay close attention to the surrounding site that you have selected. Do not plant directly underneath power lines. Maintain a distance of ideally 15 feet from any structure. Take notice of any utilities or call to locate the utilities before you dig. Plant trees that will thrive in the conditions, i.e. plant understory trees where shade is abundant. Plant water loving trees like willows or bald cypress near water, but not your water line. Don’t forget to water your tree, at least once a week for a year.

Some common tree planting myths:
Myth: Dig a deep hole. The deeper the better.

Fact: The hole only needs to be as deep as the root ball. The root flare (where the roots meet the base of the tree) should be exposed once planted.
The really important part is digging the hole at least 2-3 times the size of the root ball. The wider the better. The roots will spread outward, so giving the roots loose soil to move through gives them a better chance of survival.

Myth: Put gravel and/or topsoil in the planting hole.

Fact: It is better for the tree to be planted in the existing conditions. Changing the soil will change the drainage and soil structure. This can cause the tree to sink deeper in the hole over time or cause girdling roots. (Girdling roots are when the roots circle around and around and
eventually strangle the tree).

Myth: Staking is always necessary.

Fact: Only stake trees that need it. Trees that need staking are unstable and have potential for falling over. Only stake the trees as long as necessary, removing the support after 1-2 years. Make sure that the support is loose enough for the tree to move with the conditions.

Myth: Mulch is great!

Fact: Mulch is great! But not too much mulch. The right amount of mulch can be a great and necessary addition to your newly planted tree. However, it is important to keep the mulch away from the trunk of the tree. Do not make a mulch volcano. Instead, spread mulch 1-3” deep and at least as wide as the planting hole. Mulch holds moisture, which is great for the roots, but not great for the trunk of the tree, where it can attract insects and bacteria and cause future damage to the tree.

Happy planting!