Home Tip Tuesday: Planting a Tree

Trees add beauty, privacy, shade and increased property value.

An old proverb says 'The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the next best time is now.' Trees add beauty, privacy, shade, increased property value and a sense of history to our homes and landscape. Strategically planted trees can even help lower energy bills by providing cooling shade in the summer or blocking cold winds in the winter. Whether purchasing a tree in a container, one that is balled and burlapped or a bare-root tree, a few tips on preparation, planting and after-care will help get your new tree off to a healthy start.



Preparing:
* Before planting a bare root tree remove all the packaging and soak the roots in water for three to six hours

* If possible, use a rototiller to break up any grass and soften the ground before digging. Prepare a 3- to 5-foot radius to make the entire process easier

* The width of the hole should be at least twice as wide as the root ball or container. For bare root trees, dig a hole that is 3 feet wide

* The depth of the hole should be approximately the same as the depth of the container, burlap ball or loose roots. To be precise, locate the root collar-the knobby area where the roots connect to the trunk-and measure the length from the root collar to the bottom of the container

* Dig deeper than is necessary in order to loosen up the soil and give tender roots the best start. Backfill the hole to the correct depth before planting

The width of the hole should be at least twice as wide as the root ball.

Planting:
* Slide a burlapped tree into the planting hole. Cut away any wire or twine. Fold down the burlap. Natural burlap does not have to be removed, but chemically treated or vinylized burlap must be removed

* Lay a container tree on its side and tap on the container to loosen the roots. Never pull a tree by its trunk. Gently pry the container from the root ball

* If the roots of a container tree appear to be winding around, use a sharp knife to cut an X on the bottom of the root ball and four vertical slits around the sides

* Once the tree is positioned in the hole, walk around it and make sure the trunk appears straight from all sides. The root collar should be just above the soil. Adjust as needed

* Backfill dirt into the hole. Occasionally stand back and make sure the tree is still straight before tamping soil firmly over the roots

Water once a week until well established.


After-Care:
* Create a water holding edge around the hole

* Water well, making sure there are no air pockets around the tree roots

* Add a 2-inch layer of organic mulch over the prepared area, but keep it approximately four inches away from the tree trunk

* Remove all labels and tags

* Water once a week until well established 


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