Friday, Nov 28, 2014
Agri Leader

Think of trees as long-term investment


Published:

Trees are not only beautiful, but they improve our environment and keep energy costs lower.

Planting trees in your yard will also increase your property value, keep the air clean and reduce noise. While successful tree planting can be challenging, there are several things you can do to increase your chance of success.

The Florida Forest Service states that homeowners must put careful thought, planning and attention to detail when planting new trees in their yard or garden. Failing to do so may result in a loss of time and money.

The first thing to consider before planting is where the tree will be located. If you have limited space, be sure to choose a dwarf variety or one that will not be overly large at maturity to avoid interfering with power lines and buildings.

Trees that require full sun should be placed where they will receive at least six hours of light each day. Since new plantings require plenty of moisture, be sure they are within easy reach of a garden hose or you have an irrigation system in place. Soil type is another important aspect of raising healthy trees. Most trees do best in moist, well-drained soils. For wet soils, consider a species such as baldcypress which thrives in moist soil conditions.

After you decide on the location and species of your new plantings, you must find a place to purchase high quality trees. There are many reputable nurseries that have healthy, disease-free trees. Buying from local nurseries will also help you support businesses within your own community.

Most nurseries are more than happy to help you select your trees and will answer any questions you have about caring for your new plantings. Trees should look healthy at the time of purchase. Be sure you don't see any wounds on the trunk, as this gives bacteria and fungi easy access to the tree. Dark spots, sunken areas or swollen spots on tree trunks may be caused by disease.

Since boring insects can kill trees quickly, look for tiny holes on the trunk and branches. These insects will also lay egg galleries just beneath the bark of the tree, as well. The root system must also be examined carefully at the time of purchase. The root ball should not be small compared to the crown and tree trunk. Container grown trees should have a well-established root system, which keeps its shape when taken from the pot. By carefully inspecting the root system, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of weak growth and drought stress.

Once you have the perfect tree, it is time to get it in the ground. Dig a hole that is no deeper and 3 times wider than the tree's root ball. Place your plant inside the hole, keeping the root ball even with the surface of the soil. After your tree is in place, fill the hole with the soil removed during digging. Saturate the soil with water when you have the hole filled halfway with soil, which removes any pockets of air. Continue adding soil until it is even with the soil surface.

The managers at Sunstate Landscaping recommend watering new plantings once a day for the first week. This is extremely important if rainfall is infrequent. To help retain moisture, place mulch around the base of the tree, keeping it 2 inches from the trunk. Pine bark and wood chips are excellent mulches Trees that appear unstable or top heavy should be staked for extra stability.

After planting, there are some things you can do to keep your tree growing strong. Fertilizer can be applied 6 months after planting, which provides nutrients important to healthy growth. After the first year of life, apply fertilizers three times each year during the spring, summer and fall. You won't need to prune your tree until after the first year. Trim branches properly and avoid wounding your tree with pruning shears or lawn equipment. If new plantings show any signs of pests or diseases, it is important to promptly identify the problem and treat it before it gets out of hand. Keeping your tree healthy is the best way to prevent insect infestations and diseases. Wounded trees or those under drought stress are far more likely to suffer from these problems.

Taking a moment to develop a plan for your new plantings is one way to increase your chance of success in the yard or garden. Proper care will allow your tree to flourish, beautifying your yard for many years to come.

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