"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in." -Greek Proverb.
Tree planting is one of our favorite services we provide at Arrowwood Landscape Design. We truly feel like we are making a difference in the world with every tree we plant for our customers. Here are some of our favorite reasons:
Steps to Planting a Tree
1. Choosing the right location
Keep trees away from the center of drainage swales, buildings, utility lines, etc. The mature size of the tree should be considered when choosing planting locations. Most healthy trees are removed because they grow too large for their location.
2. Choosing the right tree
Mature tree size, growth habits, soil moisture, soil acidity, messiness, and maintenance requirements are all factors that should be considered when selecting a genus and species. At Arrowwood, we prefer balled and burlap (B&B) trees over container-grown trees. B&B trees are field grown and tend to be hardier and have better rooting structures.
We measure from the bottom of the root ball to the root flare and excavate to this depth. It’s important not to dig past this measurement. Any soil that has to be backfilled to correct digging depth will inevitably settle, resulting in a tree planted too deep. We dig the diameter of the hole about 12” wider than the root ball to allow for room to backfill properly.
4. Placing the tree
It’s essential to always handle the root ball with gentle care. The most critical roots on a plant are microscopic hairlike roots at the end of the roots. If the rootball soil is loosened, these hairlike roots will be torn away from the tree. For this reason, we do not cut the metal basket away from the rootball. In an informal study, a Penn State professor showed that as the tree matures, it grows around the basket the same as it would a rock.
Using a digging bar, we tamp continuously as we backfill to remove air pockets and brace the tree. We amend the soil with organic fertilizer that contains mycorrhizal fungi. We do not amend the backfill with compost because we want the roots to grow out and away from the trunk. If the space immediately surrounding the rootball is the best soil, the roots could circle around the trunk, and the tree will eventually kill itself with girdling roots. We only use fertilizer to help the tree survive the first year of transplant shock.
We are careful not to mulch too close to the trunk of the tree. If too much mulch is touching the trunk, the bark will rot. Decay will move to the cambium layer and girdle and kill the tree.
After mulching, we set up a hose that slowly and thoroughly soaks the planting zone to remove any remaining air pockets.