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Tree Planting Article

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Planting Instructions For Trees and Plants

from: B Hirst

Planting Instructions for Trees, Plants and Shrubs

Planting a tree or shrub is not as easy as, "Green side
up...brown side down". Care must be taken from selection,
transporting,locating a spot, checking for utilities, plant
tolerances for shade,zone rating of the plant for your
area,instillation, and care after planting. Each area has
special requirements that influence the outcome of your work.

All people handling seedlings and small trees need to help with
the life support of your plants. Seedlings are like fish out of
water and need care which is often overlooked between the time
the seedlings are lifted and transplanted. Improper care means
higher mortality. Do not try and reinvent the wheel. You must
protect seedling from moisture and temperature extremes, as well
as physical damage.

Trees and plants are living and should be handled carefully just
as you would a baby.. For a higher survival rate, treat trees
carefully and plant them immediately. I like to have a backup
plan for planting if the weather turns bad. I will sometimes
switch from lining out the seedlings to potting them up if I
realize that the soil conditions will not be right for an
extended lenght of time. If planting must be delayed a few days,
keep the plants in a cold, protected place with air circulation
between the trees. Keep the trees out of the rain and wind. To
check if the trees need water, feel the media at the roots.. If
it isn't damp, water the trees and allow the excess water to
drain. In cool, damp weather, the biggest threat to these trees
is from mold. Try to keep out of soil seedlings moist by either
restricting water loss with a water vapor barrier or by wetting
the roots at regular intervals. While handling or planting try
to reduce temperature and air movement around the seedlings.
Windy days can dry out seedlings so consider waiting for calmer
weather. Once your soil conditions are correct OUR FREE USE
PLANTERS will make planting a snap so its will be worth waiting
for good planting conditions.


Ideal planting days are cool and cloudy with little or no wind.
If possible, avoid planting on warm, windy days. The soil should
be moist not wet. Care in planting is more important than speed.
Make sure the roots are never allowed to become dry. Bare root
seedlings should be carried in a waterproof bag or bucket with
plenty of moist material packed around the roots to keep them
damp. Ideally, bare root boxes should be kept refrigerated or
packed in ice or snow. Don't freeze the trees. Competition from
weeds, grass, brush or other trees is very detrimental to
survival and growth of seedlings. Choose areas free from this
competition or clear at least a three-foot square bare spot
before planting. Seedlings should not be planted under the crown
of existing trees, or closer than 6 feet to existing brush.
Avoid areas near walnut trees. Brush aside loose organic
material such as leaves, grass, etc., from the planting spot to
expose mineral soil. If organic matter gets into the planting
hole, it can decompose and leave air spaces. Roots will dry out
when they grow into these spaces. Open up the hole, making sure
the hole is deep enough for the roots to be fully extended. If
roots are curled or bunched up, the tree will not be able to
take up water correctly, will often weaken and die, or may blow
down later due to poor root structure. Take a tree out of your
planting bag or bucket only after a hole is ready. When exposed,
the fine roots can dry out in as little as 30 seconds. Seedling
shoots and roots lose water to air, roots require more
protecting.Unlike leaves ,they do not have stomata (closeable
openings on the surface of the leaves) or any waxy coatings to
help reduce water loss. If the roots apear dry they are probably
dead. Now I know you are thinking,"I will place them in a
buckect of water and store them there until planting". This will
not work. Submerge plants for no longer that a couple of
minutes. Placing them in water cuts them off from oxygen.
Remember to remove the container before planting a containerized
tree. A helpful hint to all those new gardeners just starting is
to remember to always plant green side up. Hold the seedling in
place in the hole, making sure the roots are straight, fully
extended and that the tree is neither too shallow or too deep in
the hole. Fill hole, allowing soil to fall in around the roots.
Tamp with hands or with your heel. Don't crush the roots by
jumping up and down around the seedling like there is a snake
curled up around the seedling. It is delicate. Fill with more
soil, if necessary, and tamp. Tamping is important. If soil is
not firmly packed around the roots, there will be air pockets
that can dry out the roots, and the seedlings may be weakly
anchored. It is far easier to plant the tree strait up then have
the tree leaning and have to staiten the tree later. (Addition
of fertilizer and plant vitamins at the time of planting is not
generally necessary.) Take your time in planting. Proper spacing
will help you grow a more valuable crop. I have tried to get
more production from a limited area by over planting and then
thinning, but I always have had trouble in harvesting ....
digging is slower and poor quality usually results for a portion
of the crop. Avoid these tree planting errors:

Tangled roots Planting to shallow Planting to deep Air pockets
Turned up roots (this is called J rooting) Planting trees that
are not tolerant of wet soils in poorly drained areas Planting
over rocks, septic tanks and leach fields, on sand mounds

CARE OF TREES FOLLOWING PLANTING Check periodically to be sure
that brush, grass and other vegetation is kept under control by
mowing, mulching, spraying or a combination of these treatments.
Always obtain advice from a licensed pest control advisor before
using chemicals. You ag extension agency may offer courses in
application of chemicals. Monitoring the appearance of your
trees will help you to detect signs of insects, diseases or
other problems. Apperances also help sell your product. Look for
foliage turning yellow, new foliage drooping or other signs of
poor health. It is easier to take successful corrective action
if the problem is detected early.

Over watering is a common problem in irrigated plantations. You
probably won't need to water more frequently than every 7-10
days. Give your trees a thorough, deep soak and then let the
soil dry out before the next watering. This encourages the roots
to grow down in search of water. Frequent, shallow watering
encourages root growth near the surface and the trees are more
dependent on irrigation and are less windfirm. Animals can be a
major cause of damage to young trees. Porcupines, gophers, mice,
rabbits, deer and cattle are the most frequent source of damage.
In many states you may have to call your game commission and get
their recomendations on legal methods to protect your crop. In
our state, you can get help from the Pa. Game Commission to kill
deer that are a threat to your seedlings or obtain a free fence
to keep deer away from your seedlings. Over the years we have
lost more trees to mice than any other animal. Put rat baits out
on a regular basis.

About the author:

Bill has been growing trees and plants for 45 years. He gives
simple tips and methods for correctly planting ornamentals. His
home farm is in Doylestown Pa. which is 25 north of Philadelphia
in Bucks County. His web sites include and His phone number is 215 651 8329



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