I remember my first tree planting exploits well over a decade ago. The trees are still alive, but I have learned a lot in the process that improves the chances for tree survival and overall health. Here are seven tips I wish I had known:
Know your tree. If the tree is the wrong type, it will never be its best. Or what you want it to be.
Pick the right spot, this goes hand in hand with tip one. I have seen many large, fast growing trees planted within two feet of a house. Frequently the home owner starts fretting about the foundation after the tree has been in five years and is nearly touching the foundation, as well as the eaves.
Don't mix topsoil, fertilizer, compost, organic wastes, gummi bears, or anything else with the planting soil. If the soil is not already good enough on site, spend a few years improving it before planting trees.
Mix the soil that is already with the tree with the soil from your hole. Doing this will make it easier for the roots to transition into the new soil.
Plant the tree so that the soil level of where the tree has been growing is matched to the level of where it is being put.
This can be difficult, especially with balled and burlapped plants. The machine used for digging the tree often throws dirt up around the base of the tree hiding the original soil line. I always clear the dirt away so that I don't bury the tree to deep.
Some fruit tree rootstocks will need to be planted deeper because they are more brittle. Do this only if you already know the rootstock is a weak variety. Never bury the graft.
Rough up the edges of the hole if they appear slick or smooth. Slick sides can act like the edge of a pot and cause roots to circle around instead of going out into fresh soil. This is especially important if the soil is high in clay.
Create a large tree ring and fill it with mulch at least four inches deep. Remember to keep the mulch a little away from the trunk, the tree needs room to breath!
With these tips goes a little planning and a little care, but if you are going to plant a tree that might out live you the extra care goes a long way!