One of the more gratifying items to check off your fall checklist is “planting new trees.” The natural beauty of trees growing on your property can be enjoyed by your family, friends and neighbors for years to come. The successful plan for having a yard full of lush, long-lasting trees requires just three essential elements, which give young trees a healthy start. Choose the right place for the type of tree you have and plant it with care.
Special Tools Help with Planting
And since it’s not every season you’re likely to plant a tree, the special tools you need to accomplish proper planting are probably not in your tool shed, but are available for rent. Since trees can be heavy and cumbersome to move, it’s a good idea to rent a tree spade or tree dolly to carry the tree to the planting area without damaging the roots or the tree itself. A post hole digger is made to break through the ground easily, making short work of digging a hole big enough for your new tree.
Landscaping with Trees
Consider the size of your lot when planning a landscape that features trees. They need to be planted at least 10 to 15 feet from the foundation of the house and at least five feet from decks, patios, driveways or sidewalks. Also, make sure to keep tree tops away from utility wires overhead, as well as underground.
- Trees need a good deal of sun to grow up strong, so choose a place where your new tree will receive ample sun exposure.
- Do you want a little privacy? Planting trees in rows can create a natural wall or fence against nosy neighbors or noisy streets.
- Does the wind whip around your home? Trees can also act as wind breaks when planted strategically.
Types of Trees
While you’re scoping out your land, think about tree sizes and shapes, which adds interest to the landscape. When visiting the nursery, learn all you can about specific trees by studying the information on the tags, or ask a nursery employee. In general:
- Evergreen trees are good to use for privacy walls and wind breaks because they keep their foliage throughout the year. Evergreens like to be planted on the north side of your home.
- Deciduous trees provide shade in the summer and let sun shine into windows in the winter, because they lose their leaves. They like to live on the south, east and west sides of your home. Deciduous trees also add fall color to the landscape.
- Trees that grow up to 25 feet tall can be planted under overhead utility lines.
- Trees that grow 25 to 45 feet tall are great for shading an entire single-story house or the sides and windows of a two-story home, and slender medium-sized trees can thrive when planted near fences.
- Trees that grow higher than 45 feet can shade large, hot areas, like driveways and patios, or large lawns.
- Flowering trees add color, attracting birds and other wildlife.
- Fruit trees can not only provide shade, but food and fragrance.
- Drought tolerant and low-water use trees can protect dry areas of your yard.
Planting Techniques for Healthy Trees
- Dig a hole twice as wide and slightly shorter than the tree’s roots, also known as the root ball, the area that begins where all the roots start from the trunk.
- Loosen the soil in the hole to make it easier for the roots to establish themselves.
- If the tree is in a container, remove it gently but firmly, then quickly separate the roots, uncurling, straightening or cutting a little, until they fall outward from the trunk. Take care to shade the roots from the sun while arranging the roots.
- Lift the tree by the root ball and place it in the hole, making sure it’s standing upright. You may need to tilt the root ball until the tree is straight. Now’s the time to move the tree around in the hole to make your favorite side of the tree viewable from a window, or have the branches placed where they will grow out unencumbered. In sunny areas, place the tree so that the best-shaded side of the trunk faces southwest.
- Backfill firmly around the tree and cover only the roots with soil. Leave the trunk above the soil surface. Amend the soil with organic compost, if desirable. Pack down the soil to stabilize the tree.
- Water, water, water the tree, with at least 15 gallons of water, and then monitor its water requirements at least once a week for the first month.
- Stake the tree loosely for protection or support, if needed, taking care not to use wire, which can cut the trunk. Soft, pliable tree ties are best. Place stakes outside of the root ball and use them until the tree can stand tall on its own, in six to 12 months.
- Mulch the entire planting area with a three to four-inch layer, especially to prevent a hard crust from forming on the surface of the soil.
About the Author
Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.