The benefits of having trees in the landscape are numerous. Mature trees provide shade and a healthy landscape can increase the value of a home. Fall is an excellent season for planting new trees. Roots have a chance to get established before encountering the next hot summer season. Keeping these advantages in mind, the next step is to get dirty and plant a tree!
“What, Where and How to Plant” are the first questions every homeowner should answer before planting a tree.
- What tree characteristics are most desirable? For example, is shade a priority or is creating a natural boundary between property lines more important. Personally assess the goals desired for the landscape.
- Where should the tree be planted? It’s important that the needs of the tree match the needs of the homeowner. For example, a tree that grows high would not be appropriate planted right next to the house, where the roots may eventually invade the foundation. This would not serve the interests of the homeowner or the tree. Choose a tree variety that has the characteristics desired, but will also grow successfully in the location selected. Peruse local nurseries for ideas and the wealth of information they provide.
- How the tree is planted can determine tree growth success. One of the most common mistakes made is planting the tree too deeply. Trees prefer to have the top of the root ball slightly above the hole with soil sloping away from the trunk. This will ensure good root and trunk aeration. In addition, the hole dug should be 2-3 times wider than the root ball of the tree planted. Amend the soil with proper organic material, such as peat moss or compost. Soil type should dictate which soil amendment is chosen.
Other factors to consider are Water, Mulch, Pruning and Staking.
- Water is very important to a newly planted tree and plays a significant role in the success of the tree. Typically, a newly planted tree requires one inch of water per week through the summer and fall. The tree may require watering the first 2-3 years after planting. This ensures the root system is fully established in the landscape.
- Mulching is also crucial. At initial planting, apply a 3-4 inch layer of organic, composted mulch. Choices include wood chips, leaves or pine bark. Annual re-application of mulch keeps moisture in the soil, acts as a natural weed barrier and provides nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.
- Pruning and staking should be done on an “as needed basis”. If possible, wait at least a year after the tree is planted to prune. Prune dead branches or broken branches only. After the tree is a little older, prune branches in areas that will encourage growth and that maintain the natural shape of the tree. Staking may need to be done at initial planting, to prevent the tree from toppling. This is most important in windy areas.
These are quick tips for successfully planting a tree. Ask questions and do your research for more in depth information. There are many more factors to consider when planting a tree, but future headaches and stress can be avoided by following these initial steps.
Contact KTS to discuss your questions or to have your current trees evaluated.