Friday, May 01, 2009

Tree Planting Tips

Planting your tree too deeply is the number one reason why your tree will die in anywhere from two to five years. Often times the label on the tree will tell you to plant the tree at the same depth as it was in the container. Well, there are a lot of trees that don't come in a container. They come wrapped in a burlap bag. My radio partner Fred Breglia, the arborist at the Landis Arboretum in Esperance, NY made this point so many times on WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, that I think I can say it in my sleep. Here is how to successfully plant that expensive tree you just bought at the nursery:
1. Dig a hole that is approximately the same size as the root ball of your tree. Maybe just a little bit wider, but no deeper.
2. Remove all the wire mesh and burlap surrounding the tree.
3. Look for the spot on your tree where the roots begin to flair out from the trunk. Remove any dirt that gets in your way. You must see that flair.
4. Place the tree in the whole so that the spot where the roots flair out is an inch or two above soil level. The tree is likely to settle deeper into the hole over time, so plant it an inch or two above soil level to compensate for settling.
5. Fill the hole with dirt making sure you can still see the place where the roots flair out from the trunk.
6. Water the tree at soil level at least once or twice a month for the first year or two.
Fred says he has seen many, many trees die because they were planted too deeply, but he has never seen a tree die because it was planted too shallowly. I used this technique on all my trees and shrubs that I planted last year and they all survived a fairly severe winter. Thanks, Fred.

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