Planting a tree is an investment in time and money! Before purchasing and planting a tree know your tree. How tall will it get? How wide does it grow? Does it like full sun or shaded areas? Can it tolerate winds? Does it need to be planted in a protected area? These are just a few of the key considerations one must explore before purchasing a new tree.
When preparing the planting pit for a Tree… remember Wider not deeper!
It is critical that you do not bury the crown of the tree. The crown of the tree is that portion where the tree trunk stops and the roots start. Determine where the top of the first root is. You may have to pull the burlap away from the trunk if you have a ball and burlap (B&B) tree. If it is a containerized tree you might have to scrape away some soil to find the first root. Dig your tree planting pit 3″ to 4″ shallower than the root ball height. Don’t loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole or the weight of the tree will cause it to settle.
Once you have the hole at the proper depth… start digging it wide, at least twice as wide as the root ball, sloping the sides outward away from the bottom. When the hole is prepared gently roll the tree and root ball into the pit. Then make sure the tree is standing straight.
Remove any twine or wire from around the trunk. If there is a wire basket, remove as much of the wire basket as possible. If your tree is balled and burlapped (B&B) cut off as much burlap as you possibly can.
If you have a container grown tree or shrub, check for girdling roots when you remove it from the pot. Cut any roots that encircle the root ball.
Next start putting the excavated soil back into the pit. You may want to pack the soil a bit around the bottom of the root ball to hold the tree steady. When the hole is about 1/3 full… place a garden house, running at a moderate rate, in the hole and finish filling the hole with soil. When water starts bubbling up from below… the tree is watered in.
If the soil has settled… fill in any voids.
You don’t need to amend the soil that goes in the planting pit. The soil you dug out is generally fine. In fact, soil amendments often hinder water movement and new root growth.
Depending on the size of the Tree… it may need to be Staked
Metal fence T-posts or wooden stakes are commonly used to support new trees. Two or three stakes may be used depending on the size of the tree. Put the stakes vertically in the ground… spaced about 3′ to 4′ away on several sides of the tree. Place special “Tree Straps” around the trunk and attach them to the stakes with twine. It’s best to leave a bit of slack in the line to allow the trunk to sway a bit. Stakes and guys should be used as a backup system to keep the tree from falling over… not as a crutch to hold it up.
Place a 4″ layer of wood mulch over the root ball and planting pit soil. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the trunk. Mulch helps to retain moisture and insulates the roots from heat and cold.
After one year… you can remove the straps. Check to see if the trunk is stable by moving it back and forth. If it looks to be rooted, you can remove the stakes and guys.
You don’t need to fertilize the tree for a year or so. The only pruning that may need to be done is if there are any broken or dead limbs present. A new tree needs every leaf it can produce to help generate new roots.
Keep in mind that with B&B Trees up to 96% of the trees roots were left at the nursery
It takes stored energy… as well as produced energy from foliage to re-generate the root system. It generally takes about three years for a new tree to re-grow it’s root system. During that time the tree spends most of it’s energy growing roots… and very little shoot growth. This is why the construction of the planting pit is essential.
Don’t put a $200.00 tree… in a $100.00 hole!
One last thing… B&B trees, and even container trees are very heavy! A two inch diameter tree with a 36″ diameter root ball can easily weigh 500 pounds. They are very awkward to handle… you’ll need a truck to transport them, and a special ball cart to move them… not to mention a lot of man power! If you’re not properly equipped and don’t have enough help, your new tree can easily be destroyed before you even get it near the hole!
The experts at Jones Tree & Lawn, Inc. can assist you in selecting and planting trees and shrubs. Give us a call at 303-431-8132 to schedule an appointment.