Spring is here, and many gardeners are excited about the beginning of planting season. This may include fruit or shade trees. However, planting trees is not like starting your vegetable garden. There are important considerations to make when you decide how to plant new trees. Here are six mistakes your arborist in Mount Airy, MD recommends you avoid:
- Choosing an unhealthy plant: Your tree starts should be healthy. Choose a single trunk with multiple lateral branches. Bark should be free of cracks and discoloration. Before you take the tree home, check for parasites or weaknesses in the root system. If the start barely survives in its pot, it is unlikely to survive when you place it in the ground.
- Small root ball: The root ball of a healthy tree start should be 10 to 12 inches in diameter. If the roots are pot-bound, girdled or spiraling away from the ball, it has failed to develop a healthy root system. There is good news, thought—most of these roots can be trimmed away if the plant is otherwise healthy. It will resume good root growth when you plant it. But if there are other signs that the start is weak, the lack of root ball growth will only add to its problems.
- Digging the wrong hole: Your planting hole needs to be the right width and depth. Otherwise, your tree will fail to develop. Trees planted in too-deep holes suffer oxygen deprivation and root rot, often due to pooling water that is never absorbed by roots or soil. If the hole is narrow, the roots will not expand adequately. You need to dig a hole that is twice as wide and deep as the root ball—and no larger.
- Wrong spot: Trees need to be in a spot where they can expand. Some species are picky about soil as well. Order a soil test and match the species to your yard conditions. If your soil is clay-based, you need a moisture-tolerant tree in that area. Sandy soil requires drought-tolerant trees.
- Poor handling: Tree starts come in one of three forms: bare root, bailed and burlapped, and container grown. All types need to be handled gently; if you transport them in a trailer, make sure they are secured and do not throw them around. Also, never pick up any type of tree start by the trunk; that can damage it. Pick it up by the root ball or container. With the container grown trees, do not just pull them out of the pot. Cut the pot away if it is hard to remove, rather than wrestle with it and risk killing your tree.
- Improper watering: It is tempting to overwater trees when it is a warm day and they are still young. However, you need to be careful. Overwatering leads to root rot, and underwatering causes improper growth. Burlapped trees normally only need watering every seven to 10 days, but your container trees dry out quicker and need watering more frequently, especially on hot summer days.
Stabler Tree & Crane Services is an experienced arborist in Mount Airy, MD. Call us today if you require assistance with tree removal or trimming.
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