Spring and Fall is prime time for improving your property with new trees. They provide many benefits which everyone can share. Trees mean more attractive landscapes, lower energy bills and a healthier environment. However, just planting a tree without some thought and planning can create a liability rather than an asset to your site. Wise planning is essential to ensure the new trees meet your design needs and functional solutions as well. Follow these basic tips to get your tree started right and make it a long-lasting sustainable planting. For more information, download the free publication Tree Installation: Process and Practice.
Right Tree-Right Place.
Location, location, location! Planning before planting can help ensure that the right tree is planted in the right place. Proper tree selection and placement enhances your property value, prevents costly and sometimes unsightly maintenance with trimming, and lowers the risk of damage to your home and property. In some instances, trees are the innocent victim of poor planting locations and must be removed. Always allow room for growth! Also, consider native trees or those trees with fewer pests which can attack your tree. Large trees include Kentucky Coffeetree, Bur Oak and Hardy Rubber Tree. Medium-sized trees can include Japanese Pagoda Tree, Sourwood, Katsura Tree and Golden Raintree. Finally, for areas with less room, consider Serviceberry, Ironwood, Amur Maackia or Hop Tree. These are just a few of the many trees which can be chosen for your situation.
Look Up, Look Down, and Look All Around!
Regardless if the planting is in the front yard or the back yard of the home or business, be sure there will be no interference with utilities; Call 811 before you dig. It will prevent costly mistakes and maybe a life. In addition, if the tree is going to be planted along the street, typically, there is an ordinance requiring a permit to plant in the right of way. This helps Urban Forestry administration keep up the street tree inventory and allows the ISA Certified Arborists on staff a chance to offer free advice to help in the planting decisions.
It Comes from Good Stock…
Choose the tree twice, meaning get the right species for your location; then, make an informed choice on the nursery stock. Be sure the function of the tree is understood and choose the right tree for the location. Shade? Flowers? Screening? Sound Barrier? Trees can be used as tools to work for you on the site. “You get what you pay for” applies to nursery stock as well. Purchase plant material from a reputable source and get a professional opinion on the tree species for your application. One hint, if it is a fast growing tree, it probably won’t last long. See our video for tree selection tips.
This Hole is a Home!
It is a permanent home for the trees… understand the planting site prior to planting. Determine soil type and pH, drainage and exposure to the sun. If the tree isn’t naturally suited to the planting place, it doesn’t have a chance. Planting depth is a major tree planting concern. Be sure to find the “root flare” when establishing the final grade of the tree. Drainage is crucial to survival. Use the two-hour test. Dig the hole, fill it with water. If the hole is empty upon returning, there is suitable drainage for any tree. Plant the tree properly and at the proper depth, you only get one chance… Don’t dig a $10 hole for a $100 tree. See our video on tree planting tips.
Keep Good Care of the Investment.
Once the tree is in the ground, take good care of it. At least an inch of water per week to keep it growing vigorously, apply clean, hardwood mulch on the root zone to keep soils cool and moist, but never exceed three inches in depth. Remember to remove any tags on the tree and don’t forget to remove the twine from around the trunk. Don’t worry about the fertilizer at planting time, wait until next year, after the tree has gotten settled in to its new home. Enjoy your new addition to the home and landscape!
Tree Selection for the “Un-natural” Environment, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Tree Support Systems, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree, video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources