Spring is in full bloom, and with Arbor Day coming up this Friday, you’re probably thinking about planting a new trees in your back yard. This is the perfect time of year to celebrate the wondrous benefits of trees, and to make a wise investment by planting a shade tree in your yard. But before you plant, take some advice from the experts to ensure your new tree lives a long, healthy life.
“Too often, homeowners waste hundreds of dollars on trees that will die because they were planted too deep,” caution Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP and staff arborist with TCIA. “Proper planting is absolutely essential for the success of a transplanted tree. Using quality plants and following up with good tree care practices, such as watering, pruning and fertilizing, will not save a poorly planted tree. The most common mistake is planting the root ball too deep,” she says.
Determined to plant your new tree canopy unaided? Remember these tips for the best results:
- Measure the height and diameter of the root ball or root spread.
- Dig the hole just deep enough to allow the first structural root to be at level grade. The hole’s diameter should be 2 – 3 times the diameter of the root ball or root spread.
- Set the tree on undisturbed solid ground in the center of the hole. The tree should be planted so that the root flare – which is the base of the tree trunk where the roots being to “flare-out” – is visible and above grade.
- Backfill with soil from the planting hole, using water to pack or settle the soil around the root ball. Do not tamp soil by stepping on it.
- Mulch the planting area with 2 – 4 inches of an organic mulch such as wood chips. Do not mulch up to or against the trunk. Start the mulch 6 inches away from the tree trunk instead.
- Fertilizing is not recommended at the time of planting
- Trees should be pruned after planting to remove only broken, damaged, diseased or dead branches.
- Stake and/or protect the trunk of the tree if there is a real potential for wind damage or lawn mower injury. Remove the guy wires (string, rope, wire or other used with supports) when the staking is no longer needed or the tree could be injured or even killed from girdling by the wire.
- 1 – 3 years after planting, prune to develop a good branch structure once the tree has become established in its new home. Never remove more than 25% of total foliage in one year.
Hire a professional
Don’t have time to do your due diligence? If you need a little help with your spring tree care projects this Arbor Day, consider hiring a local tree care company. A professional arborist can assess your landscape and work with you to determine the best trees to plant, and check your work to ensure that your trees are properly planted. Give your trees a strong start this spring by searching the TCIA member database to find a reputable company in your area.
Arbor Day 2014
TCIA is heading to Jamaica Plan, Massachusetts, to check out the work of a few TCIA member companies, including:
- Tree Tech, Inc.
- Mayer Tree Service
- Northern Tree Service
- Maltby & Co., Inc.
- Hartney Greymont (a Div of The Davey Tree Expert Company)
- Tree Specialists, Inc.
- Cedarlawn Tree
- Bartlett Tree Experts
- Arborway Tree Care
But we’re not the only ones – tons of TCIA member companies around the country are volunteering their time and expertise to care for their local tree canopies (read last year’s stories here) – and we want to hear about your plans!
Are you a TCIA member company volunteering at a local Arbor Day event? Tell us all about it in the comments, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may share your story in the News section of TCIA.org as part of our “Arbor Day 2014 Recap” next week. (If you’re still looking for an Arbor Day volunteer opportunity, click here to find one near you.)