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In Utah, spring and fall are the best times for planting new trees. Here are a few secrets to help you find success with your new investment that will beautify and make your yard and home more enjoyable for a long time.
Planting New Trees Begin With Buying an Appropriate Healthy Tree
The first step to a healthy tree is to purchase from a quality local independent garden center or nursery. Big box stores tend to get trees that look okay for a season but suffer down the line because of poor soil, crowding, root chopping, inadequate root ball size, rough handling, and poor care. Often these warehouse stores don’t own the plant inventory; it is on consignment, so less care is given to the material. A local independent store, like Western Gardens, also has experts who can help you pick the right tree for the conditions at your house and your growing Zone. Check for trees that have 10’’-12’’ of root ball per inch in diameter of the tree trunk. When selecting a tree, take into account the mature height and width. Material from a quality grower usually has a tag indicating the mature height of the tree. Some trees may look cute now planted a few feet from the house and close to another one, but after a few years this can become very problematic. Also consider planting a tree of an underutilized species in your area.
Transport Your New Tree Home
Local independent gardening stores can deliver your tree for a nominal fee, and you can have the peace of mind knowing that it was transported carefully. If you are transporting your tree home yourself, make sure that it is properly secured and avoid going on the freeway or driving at high speeds. It’s preferable to transport them on their side in the back of a truck so that the leaves aren’t taking the brunt of the air flow as you drive. This can desiccate the leaves and put the tree into shock. As the tree is lifted in and out, be careful to handle gently. Dropping or rough handling can also put your tree into shock.
Evaluate the Branching of Your Tree and Decide Which Way It Should Face
This is often an overlooked step, or an after thought most of the time. Every tree has different branching and some have a better side than others when it comes to aesthetics. First place the tree in the spot where you’d like to plant it and turn it until the branching is how you like it . Take a few steps back, walk around, and look at it from different viewing angles. Consider the main viewing point for the tree, or other things like proximity to fences, driveways, side walks, and power lines.
Dig the Hole and Fill with Water
Dig the hole twice as wide and twice as deep at the root ball. If you are planting a tree that likes well drained soil, but you have clay soil, then be sure to dig the hole much wider and supplement with some good soil. Bumper Crop mixed in with your soil is one of our favorite recipes. The hole should not be deeper than the root ball itself. Use your hose to fill the hole with water and let soak down a bit. This insures that there will be good moisture deep down for the roots of your tree to take hold.
Planting New Tree in Hole – Rotate and/or Straighten
If your tree came out of a bucket, check to make sure the roots are not root bound, or circling around itself. If they are, take a razor blade or knife and cut an X on the bottom and make 4 cuts along the sides. If it was wrapped in burlap and/or with twine, remove any plastic twine because this will not decompose. Loosen the burlap. These steps are important so that the roots do not become wrapped around itself causing the tree to girdle itself and die. Place the tree in the hole and backfill it around the sides. Around the trunk, mulch can be 1’’ thick and then increase in depth up to 4’’ toward the outer edge of the rootball. Check and make sure the tree is straight. Also make sure that you can see the flare of the trunk; it should not be covered.
Watering A New Tree
Planting new trees into the ground isn’t the end. Watering is very important. The amount of water varies on the type of tree and soil conditions at the planting site. If you are unsure, ask your local gardening expert. Trees should be watered when planted and also the following day. Then follow with every 3 days or so. The first 2 years of the tree’s life are the most important for establishing roots. When you water, try to do a slow drip so that it can soak down deep and encourage deep roots. Some sprinkling systems may provide adequate watering, but try to avoid high pressure sprinkler heads from spraying the trunk of your tree. It’s not necessary to fertilize trees during their first season.
Monitoring Tree Growth and Health
Don’t forget to monitor the health of your tree as time passes by. If you notice the leaves or needles look sick, take a sample of the problem or at least a photo to Western Gardens where their experts there can diagnose most problems just by examining your sample. They can give you suggestions for chemical and/or organic methods to resolve the issue.
Planting new trees is a wonderful experience because you are investing in the future.