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Planting Trees

Basic Info: When planting trees, consideration should be given to their mature height in spacing.

Smaller growing trees, such as dogwoods and red buds, generally mature in the 15 to 25 foot tall range (depending on variety), while other trees such as maples, oaks and poplars will grow into the 40 foot and up height range over the years.

The rule of thumb on spacing trees is to plant them as far apart or away from foundations as their mature height. The canopy of a tree can spread as wide as the tree will grow tall and the root system can encompass much of the canopy area.

Trees should not be planted over any septic system or near field lines. The roots will eventually seek out the moisture from the pipes and creep towards them during dry periods. For new landscaping, plant trees no closer than 50 feet.

Ornamental grasses, perennials, ground covers and low growing shrubs are best used in areas that contain septic, field or water lines.

 

Tip: In late winter/early spring when performing normal lawn clean up chores, prune or clip out any dead, broken, or crossing branches. It will give them a good clean appearance as they produce their new spring growth.

Grafted or budded trees, with a crook near the base of their trunk, should be planted and mulched to the point of the crook leaving it exposed.

Note on Fast Growing Trees: Lombardy Poplar, Hybrid Poplar and Hybrid Willow (Husky sizes) should be planted an additional 12 to 18 inches above their root collar to secure them in the ground as they continue with their faster growth rate.

 

 

Preparation:

Hard or Clay Soil: Add coarse sand and organic matter to the soil that you will be putting back in the hole. This will lessen the compaction of the dirt around the root system after planting.

Loose or Sandy Soil: Add topsoil and organic matter will help to build the quality of the soil, provide nutrients and density.

 

Planting Bare Root Trees:  

Dig holes 8 to 14 inches wide and 12 to 14 inches deep just make certain that it is no less than 3 to 4 inches deeper than the root system and 4 to 5 inches wider. Pour about 2 inches of water into the hole and allow the water to be soaked into the ground. While water is being soaked in, remove the plastic wrap and shredded newspaper from the roots. Place wrap and paper aside.

Holding the plant steady just above the root collar (the lighter line above the root system, where the soil came to on its original planting) just above the ground level, pull soil back into the hole with the other hand pressing the soil down lightly. Fill the hole around the root system with your soil mixture and firmly press soil in around the base of the plant.

Water the soil about the same amount as it took to fill in the 2 inches of the hole. (Water amount will vary with conditions) The soil around the base of the plant may sink in so you will need to apply more soil and lightly press down again.

Then apply about 3 inches of mulch. Mulching trees should be done like making a doughnut around the base of the plant. The mulch should being approximately a couple of inches away from the trunk of the plant making a welled area where you will be directing your watering focus. Then mound the mulch out roughly 6 to 12 inches away from the plant.

For the first 4 to 6 weeks, you may need to water plant every 2 to 3 days adjusting for deep rainfall days. In making the decision to water, if in doubt, pull some of the soil back from the root area (going down about 5 inches and away from the plant about 4 to 6 inches). If the soil is dry, water. If the soil is moist to wet, check the following day. Be sure to put the soil back after each check.

Gradually phase into watering less and less allowing the plant to slightly stress for the roots to stretch to find moisture. You may need to water more frequently during the hottest part of summer, especially during drought conditions. Mulching helps to keep the soil cool, moist and reduces weed seed germination.

Clip broken or damaged tips and branches that may have occurred during transit or while waiting for planting.

 

Planting Container Grown Plants:

Dig holes 2 to 4 inches wider and 3 to 5 inches deeper than the container. Pour about 2 inches of water into the hole and allow the water to be soaked into the ground. While water is being soaked in, firmly loosen the soil from the pot and cupping the plant base and top of container with one hand, tip the container completely over and gently pry the plants root system out of the pot.

Holding the base of the plant, comb through the roots and dirt to loosen and spread apart the roots. Often young perennials will have root systems that quickly grow and wrap around the inside of the pot. Just straighten these roots as combing through.

Don’t pull the root system apart, only loosen it up and allow the roots to stretch. Holding the plant steady at the base of the trunk slightly above the ground level, begin pulling the soil back into the hole with the other hand. Fill the hole around the roots and container soil with your soil mixture and lightly press soil in around the base of the plant.

Water the soil about the same amount as it took to fill in the 2 inches of the hole. (Water amount will vary with conditions) The soil around the base of the plant may sink in so you will need to apply more soil and lightly press down again.

Then apply about 3 inches of mulch. Mulching trees should be done like making a doughnut around the base of the plant. The mulch should being approximately a couple of inches away from the trunk of the plant making a welled area where you will be directing your watering focus. Then mound the mulch out roughly 6 to 12 inches away from the plant.

For the first 4 to 6 weeks, you may need to water plant every 2 to 3 days adjusting for deep rainfall days. In making the decision to water, if in doubt, pull some of the soil back from the root area (going down about 5 inches and away from the plant about 4 to 6 inches). If the soil is dry, water. If the soil is moist to wet, check the following day. Be sure to put the soil back after each check.

Gradually phase into watering less and less allowing the plant to slightly stress for the roots to stretch to find moisture. You may need to water more frequently during the hottest part of summer, especially during drought conditions. Mulching helps to keep the soil cool, moist and reduces weed seed germination.

Clip broken or damaged tips and branches that may have occurred during transit or while waiting for planting.

 

Fertilizing:

Adding organic matter into the soil when planting and using organic mulch in spring and fall, there often isn’t the need to apply additional fertilize for the first year planted.

The second year in the ground, wait for the plants to begin leafing out before beginning any fertilize program. Check with your local hardware store for their recommendations on the plants that you are growing. A timed-release formula works good as it releases the nutrients periodically throughout the growing season.

Follow the directions on the fertilize package. Many homeowners easily abuse the easy mix water soluble and liquid fertilizers. Studies have shown that frequent and over use of these types of products will build up a high level of saline in the soil. Plants in the fertilized area will die or have limited growth as well as any future replants. This over use poisons the soil and takes 3 to 5 years of soil rebuilding for the ground to become safe for planting again.