Trees are a great addition to your property’s landscape. They provide shade, privacy and give off oxygen among many other things. However, failure to properly plant and install will leave you with an underdeveloped and weak tree. In this blog we will discuss the proper techniques for planting to ensure that you will grow a healthy and strong tree that will provide years of beauty!
A very common practice for homeowners who attempt to plant their own trees is to dig the hole too deep. When the hole is too deep you are essentially burying your tree. What occurs next? – your tree begins to develop a secondary root system. These roots grow toward the surface rather than out from the tree and can even grow around the trunk of the tree, suffocating it over time. In addition, trees planted too deeply will be prone to trunk rot and root suffocation.
The first thing you need to identify when tree planting is what the PROs call: trunk flare. Trunk flare is where the roots spread at the base of a tree. Once you determine where the top roots are (trunk flare) you will need to measure how far into the root ball they are and then subtract that from the depth of your hole. It is ok, and recommended, that you leave part of the trunk flare (1-2inches) visible after the tree has been planted.
Remember it’s far better to plant the tree a little too high than too deep. PRO tip! New roots grow horizontally from the root ball (not downward as most people believe), so make sure you are digging a hole that is three times the diameter of the root ball you are planting.
To stake or not? Most people believe that you should stake a tree after planting however most arborists feel that is unnecessary. The only time that staking should be done is when there is a threat of the wind blowing it over or a high-traffic area that may allow for it to be knocked over. When staking you will want to make sure that you are using the appropriate materials. Chose a 3-inch webbing or polyethylene strips that are flexible and will allow the tree to grow and move. Twist the strips loosely at their midpoint around the tree and then attach to the stake with staples. Drive the support stakes about 18-24” into the ground.
Once you have your tree(s) placed and staked (if desired) there a few more things to complete before wrapping up the project.
Mulch – add mulch starting about 2” from the trunk (leave this area exposed). This will help to retain moisture and keep your trees roots cooler near the surface.
Water – the most important piece! You must keep your tree(s) well hydrated until it is fully established which can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Remember you want the deep soil that holds the roots to be soaked which is most effectively done with a soaker hose or drip irrigation.
If you are unsure of how to ensure success for your plantings, give your local landscaper – Total Package Landscape a call. We would be happy to assist you with questions, purchasing and installation!