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Fall Planting: Time for Trees and Shrubs

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By Ellen Russell

RISMEDIA, Nov. 14, 2007-(Doityourself.com)-The onslaught of Fall does not necessarily mean the end of the landscape season. The passing of summer heat and drought marks the ideal time for planting evergreens, trees and shrubs which are destined to fail when planted in hot, dry summer months.

Trees and shrubs are sold either in containers or ‘B&B,’ balled and burlapped. Plants sold in containers are planted in the container while young, therefore the entire root system of the plant remains intact, whereas balled and burlapped trees and shrubs have been dug out of the nursery ground and have suffered some amount of cutting of the root system. Because of this, container planted trees and shrubs may have a slight advantage during transplant; however, either preparation should thrive so long as the root ball has been properly cared for. The main thing to look for is a plant that has been balled in its native soil. Some nurseries will dig the plant, place on wrapping and recover with new soil. Called a ‘manufactured ball,’ the end result is a loosely wrapped ball, making it easier for the plant to dry our during transport and planting and increasing the likelihood of the tree transplant failing. A tree or shrub which has been balled in the soil it was grown in will be tightly packed in the burlap and will not wiggle around inside the burlap when gently shaken.

Plants sold in containers must be removed prior to planting. Although in the past it was considered unnecessary to remove the burlap from a B&B tree, loosening the burlap will make it easier for the plant to grow. After the tree has been placed inside its prepared hole, cut away all strings and let the burlap drop. The burlap will rot over time, and it will be easier for the roots to spread when they have been freed from the wrapping.

Trees and shrubs should be planted up to their former planting depth (and this should be only slightly over the root ball). Use the soil mark on the trunk as a guide. Transplants should not have their trunks deeply covered with soil or mulch. To prepare a hole for planting, dig an area twice as wide as the ball, and one and a half times deeper than the height of the ball. In the soil dug from the planting hole, mix one part peat moss for every two parts of soil. This will help the plant retain moisture and keep the soil from compacting too much, allowing the tree’s roots to grow more easily. Two or three inches of peat may be mixed into the soil in the bottom of the hole with a spade as an added measure to promote root growth prior to planting.

Fill the bottom of the hole with the peat and soil mixture until the proper planting depth is reached. An easy way to determine this is to measure the height of the root ball on a yardstick and mark the height with a piece of tape. Lay a board across the top of the hole and fill the bottom of the hole until the tape mark and board are even with each other. Place the tree or shrub into the hole. Remember to cut the burlap away from the root ball.

Fill the hole around the root ball about two thirds full. Water thoroughly and allow the water to soak into the soil. Finish filling the hole with the soil and peat moss mixture. Periodically tamp the soil with your foot to remove air pockets and pack the soil firmly around the roots. Create a ‘saucer’ around the edge of the planting by building up a two inch high ridge to prevent water from escaping before it soaks into the ground. Cut away any twine from the tree’s branches.

Water the new plant well. Allow the water to soak into the ground and ensure that the soil around the planting stays moist until the ground freezes. Adequate water supply is essential to the survival of your new tree.

Trees and shrubs add height, contrast and drama to landscapes. Planting new trees and shrubs in the Fall is ideal, as the demands of the summer growing season have passed. Similarly, trees and shrubs may be planted in early Spring before the onslaught of summer heat and dryness, but care must be taken to assure adequate watering throughout the warmer months. Appropriately planted in the Spring and Fall before more delicate plants are ready, trees and shrubs are easily set before and after the busier planting season is upon gardeners and landscapers. What’s more, trees and shrubs require very little long term care, making them a less cumbersome choice, and freeing the attentions of their owners for other landscaping projects.

Source: doityourself.com.

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