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By Jesse Wheadon, Realtor
Spring is here! It’s a great time to plant new trees and shrubs, but if you are reading this in the fall then that’s a great time to plant, too! If you are new to the task planting these items can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
Before diving into real estate, I was an ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) certified Arborist. I saw common mistakes made on a daily basis. The first, selecting the right specimen. Will it grow in shade or sun? Will it grow in this environment? Throughout the country there are different hardiness zones. Missouri is in Zone 5, 6. Research which trees or shrubs thrive in your zone. If you make the right choice, you could have years of enjoyment.
After you have selected the right specimen it’s important to plant it immediately. Most trees and shrubs coming from a nursery have a root ball that is wrapped in burlap and may have a metal basket below the burlap. In the past, it was thought that that burlap and basket would disintegrate. The new train of thought is that they don’t go away that easily. Therefore, you have to remove them to find the root flare (where the tree stem meets the ground).
In a burlapped, or even a bucketed tree that you would find in the big box stores, the flare is well below the dirt surface. The dirt should be excavated, in some cases 6-8 inches below the wrapped burlap, to find the flare. Once done, use a shovel or a tape measure and measure from the bottom of the root ball to the root flare. Then dig a hole to that depth, and dig about 1x the size of the diameter of the root ball around. Last, amend the soil with compost.
This picture demonstrates a properly planted tree, at the root flare.
After freshly planting a tree it’s important to mulch. Mulch should be about 2 inches in depth, but be careful not to create a volcano. You should still be able to see the root flare. The reason for paying close attention to the flare is that roots want to be close to the surface of the ground. They want to get wet and then dry out. Too much mulch around the stem keeps the roots wet which creates girdling roots that will kill the tree.
Too much mulch can damage to root system
Girdling roots due to too much mulch
Watering is important after planting. It’s necessary to water 2-3 times per week and in the summer be sure to water on a regular basis. Continue watering In the fall and then the tree will go into dormancy in the winter, at which time it is not necessary to water.
There is a saying about perennials such as a tree or shrub: the first year they weep, the second year they creep, and the third year they leap. Don’t get frustrated with the appearance in the first year. With a little T.L.C. from the start you will have an amazing landscape in no time. To top it off, a good shade tree brings value to your real estate investment!
For more ideas to increase your home’s value, or to find out what your home is worth, visit us at South County Realty!