Fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs around your home
When you plant new trees or shrubs in cooler weather, you allow them to more easily establish the root system they will need during the spring growing season and the hot, dry summer.
WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS PROJECT
Before you begin, ask yourself a few questions about your new planting:
• Will the shrubs or trees flower?
• Do they bear fruit or berries?
• Will they attract birds or butterflies?
• Are they purely ornamental or will they drop fruit on the ground?
• Will they keep their leaves all winter?
• Make note of the sun exposure for the planting area throughout the day.
• Consider the plants, shrubs or trees surrounding the location.
• Consider the maximum canopy and height the new tree will eventually reach.
• Will it brush up against your house? Are there overhead obstructions such as wires or eaves?
Once you have selected a tree, it’s time to dig the hole.
• Measure the tree’s root ball.
• The hole should be dug at least three times the diameter of the root ball of the tree and no deeper than its root ball.
• Place the soil on a tarp or in a wheelbarrow to avoid killing any surrounding grass.
• If you’re digging in soil with a high clay content, check the walls and base for glazing.
• Use a gardening tool, such as a fork, to scratch a few inches deep and break up any glazing.
• Dig a slightly deeper ring around the outer edges of the hole, leaving a higher ridge of compacted soil in the center.
• Gently loosen the root ball with a shovel or by hand.
• If tree comes in a burlap wrap, remove any string or twine.
• Cut away the burlap surrounding the roots and remove it.
• Lift the tree by the root ball and lower it into the hole.
• Place it on top of the raised center section.
• Lay the handle of your shovel across the hole to check that the crown of the root ball is level with the surrounding ground.
• If the root ball is below the surrounding ground, remove the tree and add more soil.
• If it’s too high, remove more soil from the hole.
• If the soil is sandy and fast draining, add some peat moss to the excavated soil. Use that mix of native soil and peat to backfill the hole.
• Backfill the hole just to the height of the ball or slightly lower to allow for settling. Don’t mound the dirt over the ball and up the trunk.
• Be careful not to compress the soil too much.
• Mound dirt around the tree to form a moat that will help collect water.
• Spread 2 inches of bark or wood chip mulch around the area to help retain water and control weeds.
• Do not let any mulch touch the trunk of the tree. And clear mulch away from the base of the trunk.
• Water the tree at the time of planting and at least once per week during its first growing season.
• Water it more often during the height summer as rainfall dictates.
• Avoid over-watering the tree by giving it deep soakings rather than frequent, light waterings.
• Make note of the sun exposure for the planting area.
• Note the distance to any surrounding shrubs and flowers.
• Dig the hole as deep as the root ball and two or three times as wide.
• Loosen the root ball by hand or with a shovel.
• Place the shrub in the hole and check that the base of the trunk is even with the surrounding ground.
• Create a moat of soil around the drip line of the plant to allow water to collect around the shrub.
• Spread 2 inches of mulch or pine straw around the shrub, but away from the base of the trunk.