How To Plant A Tree

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This article will teach you how to properly plant a tree.
by Brett · All Zones · Planting · 0 Comments · August 25, 2010 · 14,999 views

Planting a Tree DiagramBelow are general guidelines for properly planting a container-grown tree in most average garden soils, particularly those in the South, with the exception of sandy, quick-draining soils.

STEP 1 - Begin by digging a hole at least twice as wide and no deeper than the rootball of the tree.

STEP 2 - Remove tree from container and scratch exterior of root ball to a depth of at least 2 inches to loosen feeder roots. Use a knife or claw tool of some sort to loosen roots. Place tree in hole making sure that the top edge of the root ball is 1-2" above ground level. If necessary, place additional soil in the bottom of the planting hole to adjust and achieve proper height.

Note: Japanese Maples and Dogwoods require a very sharp draining soil. On level ground, they should be planted with the top edge of rootball at least 3-6" above ground level to avoid injury to roots during periods of heavy rainfall amounts.

STEP 3 - Depending on the type, fertility and porosity of the soil you are planting in, you might need to add a soil amendment to the native soil removed from the planting hole. When planting in heavy clay soil thoroughly mix in some good organic matter such as composted cow manure, mushroom compost, or a good planting mix at a 50/50 ratio with the clay soil. When planting in very sandy, quick-draining soil you might want to consider adding in some peat moss and or compost to help retain moisture. When planting in fertile, loamy soil you might not need to add any soil amendment. Mix organic soil ammendment or your own home-made compost with soil that was removed from the planting hole. Backfill soil mixture to top edge of rootball, tamping as you go to remove any air pockets, and taper the soil gradually from top edge of root ball to ground level. Essentially, you are planting the rootball in a slightly "raised mound," insuring good drainage. Some trees, such as Weeping Willows and River Birch, can be planted level with the ground as they prefer moisture retentive soils. Do not place any soil on top of rootball.

Note: If you have any questions as to the planting requirements for a specific type of tree, consult with your local nursery and garden center professional.

STEP 4 - With remaining soil mixture, or additional native top soil, you can build a water retaining ring around the perimeter of the mound to a height of around 3 to 6 inches or so, depending on the size of the tree and it's relative water needs.

STEP 5 - Broadcast a well-balanced granular tree fertilizer, or organic fertilizer, atop rootball at rates suggested on product label.

STEP 6 - After planting, fill water retension area with water and allow to soak in. Repeat this process one or two more times. Thereafter, dormant trees planted during the Winter will require litlle if any water until they break from dormancy in Spring, provided there is regular rainfall. Trees planted in late Spring through Summer will require closer attention to watering, but be careful not to overwater. Check soil moisture before watering using the finger test.

STEP 7 - For larger trees staking may be necessary. Tree stake kits are perhaps the easiest way to go about this process. You can make your own stakes from scrap lumber, however, make sure to consult with your local independent nursery and garden center professional about proper staking method. Usually, tree stakes can be removed after 1 year, or one complete active growth period (Spring to Fall).

STEP 8 - To retain adequate moisture, apply a 2-3" layer of wood mulch, or a 5-6" layer pinestraw, to a distance of 2-3 feet from trunk of tree, or just beyond water retaining ring. Be careful to avoid placing mulch directly against the trunk of a tree as this can can lead to disease. I leave about a 2 to 3 inch space around the trunk.


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