Spring 2011-Wachtel Plants Trees

By: Jean Ferdinandsen Certified Arborist WI-0149A

A new tree is an investment and a legacy for the future. Proper planting and follow up care will help capitalize on your investment. We always put extra effort into the planting process to ensure a good start for your tree.

The first thing to consider is tree selection. Your selection should match the site and the characteristics you are looking for in a tree. Wachtel's' Certified Arborists will guide you in this selection process.

We procure high quality trees from local sources, which are carefully transported to your property. This assures that the tree is adapted to our area and in good condition.

A new tree can usually be planted throughout the growing season when properly harvested and cared for. There are wide windows of opportunity for planting. Each portion of the season has its' advantages for planting.

Digging trees for transplanting can reduce the root system by 90-95% of its original size. This causes a great deal of stress. Until these roots are regenerated, trees commonly exhibit "transplant stress". Transplant stress may be exhibited by slow growth and reduced leaf size or vigor following transplant. The faster the root system is re-established, the better the chances for survival and the more rapidly it will grow.

How long this stress period lasts depends on the size and type of the tree, its site, and the care it is given. We generally allow about one year of recovery for each inch of trunk diameter. Proper site preparation and planting, coupled with good follow up care, reduces the amount of time the tree experiences transplant stress and allows the tree to quickly establish in its new location. As long as branches are not dying and growth continues to improve, the tree will become established.

After you've selected your new tree(s) and matched them to the site, the installation process begins. Proper planting has several steps. To get off to a safe start, we locate underground utilities first and then follow this process:

1. Dig a shallow broad planting hole to loosen soil to hasten root growth and establishment.

2. Identify the trunk flare. This is the area where roots spread at the base of the tree and should be visible after the tree is planted. If the trunk flare is not visible, extra soil is removed from the top of the root ball. Finding the flare determines the depth the hole needs to be for planting.

3. Remove the container for containerized trees and cut or remove any encircling roots.

4. Place the tree at the proper height. We check the depth of the hole before placing the tree in it. Handling the tree by the root ball it is placed in the planting hole.

5. Straighten the tree in the hole. Before backfilling we view the tree from several directions to make sure it is straight.

6. Fill the hole gently but firmly. The hole is filled about one third of the way and gently but firmly packed around the base of the root ball. At this point, the burlap is removed as far down as possible so the root ball is in direct contact with the soil. Wire baskets that stabilized the root ball up to this point have been cut off, as was any twine or rope. If left intact, these materials may girdle the trunk and inhibit root growth in the future and slow establishment.

7. Stake the tree if necessary. Most home landscape situations will not require staking unless there are consistently window conditions. Trees actually establish quicker and develop stronger trunk and root systems if not staked. Any support staking and ties should be removed after the first full year of growth.

8. Mulch the base of the tree. We use an organic mulch such as shredded bark or wood chips without a landscape fabric for best results. A 2"-4" layer is installed. A mulch free area a few inches wide is left at the base to avoid moist conditions and prevent decay in the trunk area.

9. Provide proper follow up care. Your newly planted tree is given a long slow soaking. Making sure the water actually gets to the root ball. This watering should be continued about every 7-10 days depending on weather and soil conditions if rainfall is insufficient. Proper watering is the single most important aspect of maintenance of transplanted trees. Always pull back the mulch and check the soil in the root ball before watering. If the soil is moist, do not water. This watering schedule should be continued throughout the growing season and until leaves fall or the ground freezes in the case of evergreens.

Trees provide a valuable asset to any landscape. They give a long lasting source of beauty, benefits, and enjoyment for people of all ages. When you have questions about planting and care for your trees, be sure to consult your Certified Arborist at Wachtel Tree Science.

"The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit."

Nelson Henderson- a pioneer in the Swan River Valley of Manitoba

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