When you plant a new tree, it is hard to imagine the growth that will take place in the years to come. The truth is that most new trees will outlive the person who planted them. Proper tree and site selection are important to insuring the health and problem-free enjoyment of your landscape.
The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) suggests that homeowners carefully choose trees based on this criterion: the location in which the tree will be planted, the correct species for the envi-ronment and long-term maintenance needs. A local nursery or tree farm should be able to assist you in finding the best tree for your property based on these guidelines.
The best measure for insuring your new tree will thrive is to plant it correctly and pay careful atten-tion to its early maintenance.
“Planting a tree is making an investment in the future,” said Sharon Lilly, ISA educational director. “You must care for and nurture your young tree so that it will pay dividends for years to come.”
Tree Planting Tips
For bare root trees, neatly cut away any broken or damaged roots. Soak the roots for a few hours prior to planting to allow them to absorb water.
Container-grown trees should have the plastic or metal containers removed completely. Carefully cut through the circling roots. Remove the top half of pressed peat/paper containers.
Balled and burlapped trees should have all the ropes cut. Pull the burlap at least 1/3 of the way down; slit the remaining burlap to encourage root growth. If in a wire basket, cut away the top of the basket.
Remove all tags and labels.
Planting the Tree
Dig the planting hole shallow and broad. The width should be 2-3 times the diameter of the root ball, and the depth only as deep as the root ball.
Gently place the tree in the hole insuring it is perpendicular to the ground. Once you begin to back-fill, it will be difficult to reposition the tree.
Partially backfill with the soil from the hole, using water to settle the soil. Finish backfilling the hole while gently but firmly packing the soil. Be sure that you leave the trunk flare (where the roots spread at the base of the tree) visible above the soil.
Soak the soil well, making sure no air pockets form between the roots. Wait until next year to fertilize.
New Tree Maintenance
Do not stake unless the tree has a large crown, or if the planting is situated on a site where wind or people may push the tree over. Stake for a maximum of one year.
Prune only the damaged branches.
Spread 2-3” of mulch over the planting area, but do not place it up against the trunk.
Be sure the root ball has plenty of water throughout the year by keeping the soil moist, but not soaked.
For additional information on proper planting technique and maintenance of young trees, ISA ad-vises contacting a certified arborist in your area or visiting www.treesaregood.org.