4 Tips for Planting Trees

Properly planting a tree should come as second nature to a seasoned landscaper. But, it’s not as simple as digging a hole and placing the plant, explains Matthew McCabe, owner of Hill Country Gardener in Spicewood, Texas.

As the saying goes, “It is better to plant a $10 tree in a $100 hole than a $100 tree in a $10 hole.” Maryland.govAs the saying goes, “It is better to plant a $10 tree in a $100 hole than a $100 tree in a $10 hole.” Maryland.gov

It is a huge issue for maintenance gardeners that have to explain to our client that the original or previous landscaper or home builder buried the tree too deep, and now the tree is in decline and not likely to live due to an issue caused five or 10 years ago,” McCabe says.Even over packing mulch around the base of the tree can damage the layers of the tree that keep it alive.”

Here are four tips to help plant trees correctly.

1. Don’t plant in late spring or summer. The heat can stress the tree and cause it to die.

2. Call before you dig. Make sure to call 811 before digging any holes. This free service will check for any electrical lines or utilities.

3. Dig a hole. Make sure the hole is about two to three times larger than the width of the root ball. The hole should be deep enough to cover the roots, but don’t cover up the crown of the tree. Place the tree into the hole gently.

4. Cover it up. Fill the whole back with the original soil, and don’t add soil amendments. Place 4 inches of mulch around the tree, but don’t put it close to the trunk. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the tree, or it will rot.

“As you can imagine, it can be devastating to see a client learn they may lose a 100-plus-year-old tree or a specimen tree that their home was designed around — all because someone did not know better,” says McCabe, who brings an arborist with him to client consultations. “In some cases, the trees may be able to be partially saved, but saving the tree often requires a major rework of the yard and/or as a minimal the reworking the existing landscape.”
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