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Planting Trees
Written by Elizabeth Wood
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement


Trees offer many wonderful benefits to a home and its surrounding landscape. Not only do they provide help clean air and shelter from wind and sun, but they also reduce heating and cooling bills, provide living conditions for wildlife, and add value to your house. When deciding to plant a tree(s), careful planning and preparation is needed.

Selecting the right tree(s) for your yard can be a difficult decision. Trees are an expensive investment so it is important to put careful thought into your final choice. There are several things that you should keep in mind during the selection process. It is suggested that you do some careful researching before purchasing a tree. Good resources include local libraries, universities, arboretums, parks where trees are identified, native plant and gardening clubs, and nurseries.

Questions to ask about trees:

• What is the level of maintenance?
• What is the main purpose for planting the tree?
• Does the species agree with its surrounding area? Consider the climate and the type of trees that are commonly found in the area. Diversity is good, but only if the tree can survive in your local region.
• Consider the size of the tree. How tall will it grow with in 15-20 years? Many trees grow to overpower or even endanger the homes they are near.
• How long will the tree live?
• Does the tree have any distinctive qualities? Unique leaf color? Fruit or vegetable growth?
• Is the tree deciduous or evergreen?
• What is the soil condition of the site where you plan to grow your tree?
• Is the tree susceptible to insect damage, disease, or another related flaw that might reduce its usefulness?

Once you have selected the tree that is right for you, you must now decide on where to plant the tree. It is important to check with local authorities about any regulations on particular placement of trees. Certain areas prohibit the placement of trees within a specific distance of streetlights, sidewalks, the street and utilities. Other considerations include the size of the tree, ornamental/flowering effects, possible obstructions, level of shade and the trees affect on gardening and other landscaping. Also, look at the area where you plan on putting the new addition and make sure the amount of sunlight the site receives matches the amount the plant requires.

Trees can be planted practically anytime of the year. However, late summer or early fall are great times for growth because roots can be established before winter comes to freeze the ground. You should avoid planting in extremely hot weather and during cold seasons where the ground may be frozen.

Trees are sold in three main categories; container grown, balled and burlapped (B&B), and bare root.

Container Grown Trees: Trees grown in containers that have been field propagated for selling and planting all year round. They suffer little transplant shock, can be planted through out the year, they are easy to ship and handle, and they range in size from small trees to large trees.

B&B Trees: Trees that are dug with the root ball intact, then wrapped for shipment and planting. Moving and planting may be difficult because B&B trees are generally very heavy.

Bare Root: Trees which are available once they have become dormant and should be planted as soon as possible. They are available in arrange of sizes. They are the least expensive.

Steps for planting a tree:

1. Check with your local utility companies for any underground utilities.
2. Dig a hole at the width of at least 3 times the diameter of the root ball or container or the spread of the roots in the case of bare root trees. The bottom of the hole should be flat. The soil should be roughed up for roots to be able to penetrate through it.
3. Never pick up a tree by the truck; it may lead to severe damage.
4. With container grown trees, you must first carefully remove the tree from the container. Place the tree on its side with the roots facing the hole. Loosen the root ball from the container. In the case of metal or plastic containers, remove the container completely. In the case of fiber containers, tear the sides away. The root system should be pulled apart or ‘butterflied' prior to planting. Gently separate circling roots on the root ball. Shorten extremely long roots, and guide the shortened roots downward and outward. Keep in mind that root tips will die quickly when exposed to light and air.
5. B&B trees should be planted as soon as possible, although they can be stored for a short time in the proper conditions. Be sure to remove the string or wire that holds the burlap to the root crown, as well as any string or twine. Combinations of peat moss, composted manure, topsoil (backfill soil) are then placed in the hole surrounding the tree just to the height of the ball.
6. Bare root trees are planted differently because there is no soil surrounding the roots. Be sure to plant as soon as possible and make sure to keep the roots moist. Build a cone of earth in the center of the hole allowing room for roots to grow. Spread plant roots out evenly over the cone. Also, when filling the hole with soil, lightly tamp the soil to collapse air pockets, or add water to help settle the soil.
7. Mulch the area around the tree. Do not let the mulch touch the trunk of the tree because the moisture from the mulch can rot the bark on the trunk.
8. You may need to stake depending on the size of the tree and the condition of the site. Large trees could use some support.

Maintenance:

• Water the trees well and slowly enough to allow the water to soak in.
• Particular tress, such as evergreens, may need extra protection against harsh weather. Watering and spray solutions are recommended.
• Protect young trees against harm from rodents, frost cracks, sunscald, and lawn care tools.
• Pruning is suggested only to remove dead or broken branches. Some fruit trees need to be shaped and thinned to promote fruiting. It is typically unnecessary to prune newly planted trees.

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