Sunday, April 14, 2024

Trees for Tomorrow: Planting Instructions

Trees for Tomorrow: Planting Instructions

When purchased, your seedlings will be wrapped in damp newspaper and peat moss to hold the moisture.  The roots will be coated with a gel to prevent drying out.  The seedlings should be set in the ground immediately, if possible.

A space for each tree should be cleared of grass and other vegetation.  Loosen the soil in a 4 to 6 inch circle where the tree is to be planted.  The hole for the roots should be large enough so that the roots are spread out.  Do not confine the roots with a hole that is too shallow or too narrow.  Well-rotted leaves, grass clippings, peat moss or manure mixed with the soil would be helpful.

Soil should be packed firmly against the roots to eliminate air pockets.  A dash of water from a hand-carried bucket will settle the dirt around the roots – then step on the loose soil around the seedling.

Trees should be planted to the same depth as they grew in the nursery.  This will be indicated by the noticeable difference in color and bark texture at the ground line or root collar.  This is important – planting a tree too deep or too shallow can kill it.  The trees can be planted 3 to 5 feet apart for the first couple of years.  Then take our and transplant those trees that do not fit into the landscaping theme.

If the seedlings can’t be planted for a few days, place package in a bucket of shallow water (about 1 inch) to ensure adequate moisture and place in a cool dark location.  If seedlings can’t be planted for an extended period of time, they should be “heeled” in.  To do this, dig a shallow trench, lay the seedlings into the trench and cover the roots.  Refill the trench with the soil.

It is not absolutely necessary to fertilize the seedlings until they are established; however, if you desire to do so, then use a slow release fertilizer that is high in phosphorous and potassium, which will encourage root growth.  Mix the fertilizer with the soil and peat moss so as to prevent direct contact with the roots or use a slow release fertilizer tablet.

For the first year of establishment, these trees should be watered 2 to 3 times a week, depending on the amount of rainfall received.  THIS IS IMPORTANT!

Over the years, we have found that the most common cause of seedling mortality is that they cannot be seen readily and therefore, they fall easy prey to lawn mowers, bicycles, sandlot football and animals.  For some form of protection, we recommend, in descending order, a small fence, a wooden or metal stake or a piece of bright colored plastic ribbon tied loosely on the tree.

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