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In: Landscape Tips0

Planting a new tree is more than just digging a hole and adding something to the earth. A tree is a long-term investment. It’s part of the overall curb appeal of your home, it can provide shade and energy savings, and trees are also an incredibly important part of our ecosystem.

The spring (or late winter) and fall are generally the best times to plant a new tree, and while you’ll want to consider a variety of factors such as color, size, shade and pruning needs when picking a tree, it’s also important that you pick a species that will grow well in your yard. Not all yards are suited for every tree species. For example, oak trees like a certain degree of acidity in the soil, while willow trees love an excessively moist soil.

If you’re thinking of adding another tree to your yard, make sure to talk to a local arborist about the best type of tree for your yard conditions, and make sure you use quality materials to get it planted.

For more than 35 years, Fra-dor, Inc. has prided itself on providing the best quality landscaping materials to its customers. If you’re planning a tree planting project, you’ll need good tools and mulch to complete the project, and we can help. Once you have all the tools you need and have chosen a tree, here’s how to go about getting the tree in the ground.

No. 1: Prepare a hole two- to three-times as wide as the root ball of your tree

The most common mistake you can make is digging a hole that is too deep and narrow. If the hole is too deep, the roots will not have access to a sufficient amount of oxygen to ensure proper growth. If the hole is too narrow, the roots will not be able to expand enough to be able to nourish and structure the tree properly.

Before you start the actual digging process, spread a plastic tarp on the ground to the side where you plan on depositing the dirt. This will make it easier when you have to refill the hole. After the perfect hole is dug, you should then roughen the sides and bottom with a pick or shovel. This will help the roots grow strong into the soil.

No. 2: Place the tree in the hole

Be firm yet cautious when removing the tree from the container. This is best done by laying the tree on its side with the container near the hole you just created. Speed is a very important factor of this process. You want to move quickly yet cautiously so the root or  rootballs don’t dry out. Once your tree is removed, loosen the roots from the sides and bottoms with your hands, then gently uncurl the roots so that they are facing away from the trunk. This ensures they won’t cut into the trunk as it expands.

No. 3: Position the tree where you want it

Move the branches so that they are not in the way of anything. (Fifteen inches from power lines, other trees, and roads is a good measure to stick to.) If you prefer to see a certain side, you can turn your tree to be in the viewpoint you want. If you choose to turn the tree, make sure you are lifting it by the root ball and not by the tree trunk base itself.

Have the root ball sitting a half-inch to 1-inch above the surrounding soil surface so that it will not rot as it grows later on. Fill around the root ball with the loose soil from your tarp. Use your heel or the handle of your shovel to press down on the dirt to collapse any large air pockets in the soil. This will help stabilize the tree in the hole. While doing this, constantly check the trunk of the tree to ensure that it’s straight.

No. 4: Supporting your tree

A big mistake often made is over-staking trees. If your tree is sturdy, there is no need for extra support. If your tree does need support, make sure to place the stakes outside of the area you just soiled on opposite sides, approximately 18 inches from the trunk. From the stakes, place tree tape loosely around the trunk. The ties should be loose enough to allow the tree to move back and forth slightly in high wind. Stakes are usually needed for up to six to 12 months.

No. 5: Water!

Make sure to water the tree shortly after planting it. Your tree is going to need about 15 gallons of water over the next couple of weeks, so continue to consistently water it. After awhile, the tree’s roots will have reached the outside soil and will gradually need to be watered less and less.

No. 6: Mulch!

Fertilizer is little to no help and could even be harmful to your new tree, but do go for mulch. Cover the planting area with a four-inch layer of mulch. Keep it at least two inches away from the base of the trunk.

Mulch is good because it keeps the topsoil at the perfect temperature for root growth, reduces surface evaporation of water, keeps weeds out, slows or stops the grass growth around the tree’s base, and prevents a hard crust from forming on the soil surface. It also is a great reminder to not step or mow around the tree.

Another great benefit to newly planted trees is Mycorrhizal Fungi. Adding this fungus to your soil will help promote the growth of the roots and discourage damaging fungi that could ruin the tree’s development.

No. 7: Check your work

Now that your tree has been planted, there are two common situations you want to make sure you avoid:

Drowning: Double check the root moisture of your newly planted tree. The soil surface conditions are much different than what’s underneath, so do not let that fool you. Check the soil 4 to 6 inches deep. You want the soil to be moist and not soggy. Sprinklers are a very good way to not only save water but save you from this problem.

Suffocation: You want to avoid planting your tree too deep in the soil . The root crown, which is where trunk meets the roots, should be 1-1/2 inches to 2 inches above ground level.

No. 8: Keep up on pruning

Now that your tree is safe and sound in the ground, it’s critical to keep up on its pruning. Starting to prune your trees while they are young will mean easier maintenance in the future and less corrective action in the future.

The final step is to appreciate your tree, and the shade and beauty it brings to your yard. Also appreciate yourself for adding another tree to the environment. You won’t have any regrets as long as you continue to keep great care of it.

If you have any landscape related questions, give Fra-dor a call at 651-484-8180.