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Planting Trees

Planting Trees

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Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

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Spring is the season when many of us want to plant trees and shrubs. Unfortunately, there are many tree-planting myths. Avoid the myths and plant your trees correctly so they will grow and become healthy and strong without threatening problems.

Improper planting techniques can lead to poor establishment or even death of the plant. Dig planting holes shallow and wide. Place trees, shrubs and other woody plants no deeper in the planting hole than they were in the container or planting ball in which they were previously growing.

In heavy, poorly drained soils, plant several inches above the surrounding grade, or in extreme cases, in a raised berm. Most new root growth occurs near the soil surface, so efforts to amend soil should be concentrated in the surface 6 inches, extending as far out from the plant as practical. Mix any soil amendments thoroughly with existing soil.

Root growth and water movement in soils is impeded when sharp contrasts exist in soil texture. If only a small area is amended, it may be preferable to avoid soil amendments altogether. Some general planting rules for trees are:

Consider the full size of the tree at its maturity before you determine a planting site.

Do not plant too close to buildings, power or utility lines, sidewalks and patios because both the branches and roots will spread.

Do not plant a “messy tree,” one that drops many leaves, berries or fruit, near walkways, sidewalks and patios.

Determine the proper planting site and spacing requirements. For shrubs, a rule of thumb for providing adequate spacing is to allow the width of one-half the shrub at maturity between plants. If the width of the shrub is going to be 4 feet, then allow at least 2 feet between plants. If the shrubs will be planted near a foundation, add an extra 12 inches.

Remove any damaged branches but do not prune the tree severely (except for fruit trees.)

Gently remove the plant from the container but do not break the root ball. If the roots are growing around the pot, use a sharp knife to cut a shallow cut down each side of the rot ball and across the bottom.

For ball and burlap trees, set them into the hole and then carefully remove the wire from the top portion of the root ball. Remove or peel back the burlap from the upper portion of the root ball but do not break the root ball.

Fill in the hole and firm the soil around it. Water deeply to soak up the soil well but avoid overwatering. Saturated soils do not let oxygen to the roots. Roots will not grow without oxygen.

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