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6 Tips for Tree Planting Success

As the summer winds down, tree planting season is just getting started. Fall is the perfect time of year to plant young trees and shrubs, which are especially sensitive to extreme heat, cold and drought. According to the National Arbor Day Foundation, improving your home’s landscape by planting trees can increase property values up to 20 percent and can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent.

Getting new trees established properly is essential for healthy growth. Here are six tips from certified arborists for proper tree planting:

Location, Location, Location.

Choose an appropriate planting site. Select a sunny, well-drained location and keep a sufficient amount of distance (depending on the tree’s mature size) between the tree and other structures, like a house or garage, and telephone poles.

Trees too close to a water source – like a lake or stream – or those perched on ledges tend to have shallow root systems. Plant your tree with plenty of space to develop deep roots.

Take Extra Care.

Handle the tree’s root ball carefully before planting, taking care not to damage or stress the roots. A damaged root ball can cause the roots to wrap around themselves (called girdling), which can seriously harm the tree.

Dig a Big Hole. Then, Make it Bigger.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is digging too small a hole. Dig the hole at least twice as wide as the tree’s root ball. If the soil around the root ball is too compact, or ropes or cages remain around the root ball, the roots may be prone to girdling.

Water Slowly, Deeply and Consistently.

Water slowly and deeply, and try to follow a consistent watering schedule. You’ll want to aim for a watering routine that mimics natural rainfall as much as possible. Deep watering is best; install a drip line underground if possible.

Young trees (up to two years old) require one gallon of water each week – more during hot or dry weather. Water in the morning or evening to avoid water loss by evaporation.

Give the Soil Some Love.

Amend the soil with compost before planting and mulch afterwards. Two to four inches of mulch will help the soil to hold moisture and stay cool. Remember – keep mulch away from the tree’s trunk. “Volcano mulching” can do more harm than good to your newly planted tree.

Deep is Dead.

Don’t bury the trunk flare (where the roots meet the trunk). This can eventually kill the tree.

Planting a tree is an investment in your property, so do your part to take care of it. Taking the proper steps to get it established will leave you with a vigorous, healthy and happy tree that benefits your landscape for years to come.

About the Author

John Lang is a Certified and Master Arborist, a Certified Treecare Safety Professional, and also a member of the Friendly Tree team, a family-owned New Jersey tree care service, dedicated to the thoughtful and careful maintenance of your trees and shrubs. Friendly Tree Service has been in business for 26 years and remains passionate about trees and nature. With a highly trained staff that treats every property as their own and state of the art equipment, Friendly Tree is on the cutting edge of the art and science of Arboriculture.


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