Thursday 28 May 2009

The Big Dirty

A Novices Guide to Tree Planting

As a young Scout I had the good fortune to plant trees on the east side of Riding Mountain. Many years later while working in the area I was able to locate the area where we had planted and marvel at the forest that was growing in the rough pasture.

The instruction we received was “ stick in your shovel and before you pull it out, put in your seedling”. It was a good thing we were planting trees by the hundred because our success rate was pretty low. If you are planting trees and want to be successful here are a few tips that will increase your odds.

Keep your tree moist,

Never let your trees roots dry out well planting. Roots take up moisture by osmosis, they have no control over evaporation and when left in the sun they will dry out quickly and die.

Dig a big hole.

Always make sure you loosen a large area of soil to allow your tree room to grow. A good hole is wider than deep. The depth depends on your root ball, or root depth if you are planting bare root trees. Your roots should never bend up out of the hole like a “J”. The roots should spread out on the bottom like an upside down “T”

Use the soil you took out of the hole to back fill the the tree

Mixing a little of the soil from the root ball into the back fill encourages the roots to venture beyond the root ball and into the planting site soil.

Make sure the sides of the hole are not glazed.

If you rough up the edges of the planting hole you will have more success and less circling roots. Digging with spade or a power auger can result in a glazed, root resistant planting site.

Never plant your tree too deep.

Make sure the first branch is well above the original soil surface and the first root is at or just slightly above the original soil level. You can lay your shovel across the top of your planting pit to make sure you are above grade. Tree roots seldom grow upwards and planting too deep is often a slow death sentence.

Cover your roots well.

Place the soil around the tree once you plant it and gently push it into place to reduce the amount of air around the roots.

Water your trees after planting.

Watering trees right after planting sorts out the pore spaces in the soil and ensures that the roots will be in contact with soil moisture. This greatly increases the chances of survival.

Ask your Certified Arborist

Arborists are experts in tree selection and tree planting, a quick consultation will help to ensure your success. If you are ever driving on Mountain Road you may catch a glimpse of my “ Trees for Tomorrow !”