Trees can add beauty to your property for years to come, but there are lots of things to consider when preparing to plant one. Following are six tips that we hope will help you navigate the task at hand.
1. Call Before You Dig: Call 811—the national hotline to have underground utilities located—several days before you plan to dig. This could save you a lot of headache.
2. Handle With Care: Always lift trees by the root ball. Never lift by the trunk or drag the tree. Prior to planting, keep roots moist to reduce stress on the tree.
3. Digging Holes Properly: Holes should be the same depth as the root ball and about three times as wide to allow for proper growth of the root system. If the hole is too deep, the tree can sink, creating a depression in the ground for standing water to collect. This will lead to problems over time.
4. Filling With Soil: Once the tree is in place, remove any packing material such as plastic containers, wire, mesh, twine, or burlap and backfill the hole with native soil. Once the hole is halfway filled, water can be added to help close any air pockets. After the water drains, check to make sure the tree is straight. Fill the rest of the hole and water again while firmly packing soil just below the root collar.
5. Adding Mulch: Use a three inch thick layer of mulch and begin to taper off as you near the trunk. Proper amounts of mulch will help the roots retain moisture. What you really want to avoid is creating a mulch volcano as this can lead to disease and rot around the base of the trunk.
6. Watering: Newly planted trees can be killed by over- and under-watering. The best way to ensure your tree is receiving proper amounts of water is to stick your finger in the soil. If the soil is damp and sticks to your finger, there’s enough water.