Fall provides great planting conditions for trees and many nurseries offer discounts at this time of the year. If you finally made the decision to add a new tree to your landscape this fall here are a few tips on how to select a quality tree from the nursery and properly plant to ensure a long healthy life.
Selecting: When you go to your local nursery you will find that tree prices can run fairly steep compared to a big box store garden center, but don’t avoid going to a nursery because of that. Privately owned nurseries tend to have higher quality tree stock, offer longer warranties, and support local growers. No matter where you go, it is good to know a few hints on how to spot a good tree.
· It is important that the tree has a visible trunk flare (area where the trunk expands to the root ball). This is a sign of proper growth and strength.
· Inspect the tree for any damage to the bark, uneven branch distribution, and lack of new growth.
· Examine the foliage as signs of stress are easily visible by looking at the canopy of the tree! If the tree has been suffering it will be difficult to transplant and it could possibly die, wasting your money and time. Leaves should be full, large, and green depending on the type of tree and time of year.
· Some larger trees come in ball and bur lapped bags. Check to make sure the twine does not girdle the trunk and the root ball is moist. With smaller potted trees you can sometimes pull the tree out of the pot to examine the roots. Roots should be a healthy light color and fit snugly in its container.
Planting: To ensure that your newly selected tree lives a long healthy life it is important to plant it in the right place. Improper planting leads to a lifetime of disease or insect problems and often times death. Here are some simple planting tips that help improve the health of your tree.
· When digging a hole it is common practice to dig 2 to 3 times larger than the width of the root ball, but no deeper. The trunk flare should be a couple of inches above the ground level. Throughout time the tree will settle, but there is no need to amend the soil.
· Always be gentle when removing the pot and be sure to loosen up the root system. Place the tree in the middle of the hole and back fill with the previous dirt, lightly packing, not stomping, the soil.
· After ball and bur lapped bags are set in the hole, cut the twine and the top-most portion of the wired cage.
· Always water the tree immediately after planting. If the tree is large, you can water while filling the hole back up with soil. Infrequent deep soakings are recommended for the first year after a planting.
· Some trees may need staking. Be sure to monitor the stakes as they may require adjustments. Depending on the tree, stakes can be removed after 1-2 years.
· Mulching is a great idea because it helps maintain moisture, keeps weeds away, and maintains a cooler soil temperature. You only need 2-3 inch thickness. Avoid stacking mulch against tree bark to prevent restricting roots and causing disease.
Check out ReTree Nebraska’s 12 for 2012 for recommended species in our area