Category Archives: Trees

Establish Roots

No doubt about it, fall is a terrific time for planting most trees! And there’s something about getting the work done in the fall that is especially gratifying come spring.

Red Maple in fall

So, since many of you will be in the store shopping for trees this season, I thought you might be interested in some tips from the pros.

Good tree planting really gets down to 3 things:

* The size of the hole

* The quality of the soil

* A root stimulator

And, of course, plenty of water! But everybody knows that, right?

I always tell customers to dig a hole as wide as they have patience to dig — twice the width of the root ball is good. But they always seem surprised to hear that the depth of the hole should be slightly less than the depth of the root ball. We shoot for 1/2″ less — that is, if the root ball is 12″ deep, the hole will be 11-1/2″ deep. Anything we can do to help our heavy clay soils drain better is good, so feel free to plant just a little bit high.

A tree is an investment! Protect your investment by enriching the soil when you plant. Mix something good into the soil you dig out. We consider our Complete Landscape Mix (or Woodland Soil Mix, depending on the plant) the Porsche of soil amendments. But if you don’t use that, use something! Compost or even soil conditioner is better than nothing.

Maybe the best root stimulator available

Once the plant is set in the hole, fill it halfway with the soil mixture. At that point, you should consider adding a granular root stimulator. We love a root stimulator! It’s easy, it’s cheap AND helps establish a plant as soon as possible. We especially like Biotone Starter Plus (with micorrhizae built right in — a whole other blog topic!) for transplants. Water the plant in and continue filling the hole. Water thoroughly again once the hole is filled.

There are a few other useful details such as gently spreading the roots of a root-bound plant to discourage girdling. Or adding 2-3″ of mulch around your transplant, making sure to keep it several inches away from the trunk. And, if you are planting a balled and burlapped tree, be sure to peel the burlap away from the top of the root ball before planting.

For all you do-it-yourselfers, we are always happy to provide advice about tree planting. Of course, you have another option: forget about digging that hole and simply ask us to plant your purchase for you! Either way, we’ll make you an offer. Mention this blog post before October 15 and receive 20% off any regularly-priced tree in stock!

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