A Planting Status Update
Written by: Ron Gumz, Board Certified Master Arborist MN-0324B
When you toss a rock into a peaceful pond, ripples radiate out in all directions to influence whatever they roll past. Lilly pads undulate, surface weeds jiggle and the shoreline shifts ever so slightly. The same effect can be seen in an economic ripple. Currently, a green industry ripple is bubbling up in the form of limited nursery stock available for planting.
The overall economic picture was much worse a few years ago than it is now. During that time, the nursery industry was planning ahead for today’s planting needs. Unfortunately, the production of trees was reduced at that point and catching up takes a long time when growing trees. Now, with the recent economic upturn, nursery stock usage and planting has increased overall, thus demand is up and supply is down.
This has challenged us to become more creative with our planting solutions. Getting orders in early is one way to get ahead of the issue. Another solution is to look into other tree options. Tree diversity is important. Carrie Hennessy at Johnson’s Nursery attests to the need for diversity. She brings to light that “diversity in a landscape reduces the risk of losing your entire investment.” We have seen issues like Dutch elm disease and emerald ash borer cause huge losses to single species plantings. She goes on to explain that “plant diversity also benefits wildlife and gives you more color and texture throughout the year.” Using trees outside of the ever popular maple tree can have a positive impact on the landscape. Let’s embrace such trees as Kentucky Coffeetree, Cornelian Cherry Dogwood, and others that may be less commonly known.
Using quality plant stock is another important factor when supplies are limited. If a tree is planted right the first time, then it’s less likely to have to be redone when a comparable replacement may not be available. According to Vanessa Mueller at Johnson’s Nursery, “in this industry especially ‘you get what you pay for.’”
Vanessa points to a few important features of good quality stock:
- proper height of the root flare within the planting ball
- performing structural pruning while trees are young
- using locally grown trees
Other factors include better genetics, proper form, enhanced root development, etc. Each of these items take a little extra time and effort.
So during this time when clients continue to install trees into the landscape, vigilance will be needed to make sure high quality and a variety of planting stock is used for your landscape. If you have been wanting to put in a new tree, let us know so we can help you get a quality tree.
I want to thank the guest contributors from Johnson’s Nursery in Menomonee Falls for their help with this article, it was greatly appreciated.