Looking out into your yard, you can’t help but think that something is missing. Maybe it’s a bare area needing interest. Perhaps a neighbor has too clear a visual of your patio. Whatever the situation may be, often the best remedy is to plant a beautiful tree. That perfect species that will bring color and personality to your landscape. The choices are endless but you have narrowed it down and decided on your tree. A little bit of knowledge about how to plant and care for your tree can help your investment last a lifetime.
Healthy Roots for a Healthy Tree
When planting a tree, your main goal should be to keep the root system as healthy as possible. A healthy tree will grow roots that reach away from the stem and extend where needed to absorb nutrients and moisture from the soil around it. Proper exposure of the trees’ root flare is essential. The root flare is the area were the trunk ends and the roots begin and should be at ground level but above the surface.
If the root flare is buried, the roots will find anyway they can to reach the nutrients and water they need. This can result in what’s called stem girdling roots and an abnormal root system. Abnormal root systems can develop because of:
1) The use of a container that induces encircling roots.
2) Tillage practices like hilling mulch up against a tree’s trunk as a weed preventative measure.
3) Planting a tree too deeply in the earth.
4) A planting hole that is too narrow.
5) Using a confined planting location like a small planter.
Excavating the Root Collar
To excavate the root collar of the tree before planting, gently loosen and remove about 3-4″ of soil around the base of the tree to expose the root flare. Measure from the exposed root flare to the bottom of the root ball. Dig a hole only as deep as the root ball to make certain that the depth of the hole will not cover the root flare once the tree is planted. The roots need plenty of width to spread out but no extra depth.
Spend some time inspecting the root system of your new tree. For bare rooted nursery stock, examine and remove any encircling roots or “J” roots that look as though they will eventually compress the tree’s stem tissues. For trees that have been containerized, inspect the root system for encircling woody roots. Any encircling woody roots should be straightened or pruned prior to planting.
Planting depth is key to your trees’ survival. More young trees will die from being planted too deep than from any other cause. For more information about how to plant a tree or shrub, click here to see our helpful, step-by-step video.