Planting a tree and watching it grow over the years is one of life’s most rewarding experiences (yes, we may be a little biased here). Establishing a thriving native tree nursery provides numerous ecological benefits and helps make our planet just a little bit healthier.
Planting begins with proper preparation. Although there are a number of different methods and techniques that may be effective, we want to help simplify the process. In this article, we’ll explain our six steps to planting success.
1. Give ‘Em Room
Creating an environment that’s conducive to a healthy tree means giving it some space to spread out as it grows. Dig your planting hole twice as wide and a bit shallower than the root ball of your tree. In terms of depth, your hole should be a bit shallower than the root ball. Once you’ve achieved the correct depth and width, rough up the inside walls with your hands or a tool.
The extra room on the sides will give your tree’s roots room to spread out and grow. The “roughing up” of the sides will make it easier for your roots to penetrate the soil. Think of it as creating a more natural space than if you were to leave your sides flat and packed together.
2. Ready Your Tree
Once you’ve created the ideal space for growth, it’s time to move on to the tree itself. Lay the tree down on its side and lightly tap the sides of the container in order to loosen the root ball. Once it’s become loose, remove the container.
Once the root ball of the tree has been removed, begin gently separating the roots, guiding them outward from the ball. If there are any abnormally long or crooked roots, you can cut these off. The goal is to have consistent growth, and these ‘stragglers’ may take hold differently than the rest of the roots.
3. Prepare the Soil
It’s impossible to overstate the role soil plays in the health of not just native trees, but nearly all plants. Soil provides many critical nitrates, minerals, and nutrients, and aids in a plant’s ability to get water.
Our method for preparing the soil involves utilizing a 50/50 mix of compacted soil and compost. The loosened soil provides an ideal environment for your new roots to grow.
4. Stand up straight
Now that you’ve prepped the planting hole and added your soil, it’s time to insert your tree! Position it in the hole and make sure that it’s standing upright (if it goes in crooked, there’s a chance it will grow crooked).
After your tree is in, tilt the root ball and backfill underneath until you’ve found the right orientation. Once you’ve completed this step of the process, your tree should be sticking straight up out of the soil.
5. Get a good Start
Once your tree is in place – standing tall and straight – it’s time to fill in the gaps. Backfill the planting hole with loosened soil, making sure to add water as you go. To promote quicker growth, root stimulator can help speed up the development of new feeder roots.
After you’ve filled everything in with the aforementioned loose soil and water, firm up the soil to stabilize your tree and eliminate air pockets. Tamp it down lightly, and you’re ready for the final step!
6. The Grand FInale
Optimizing your tree’s growth potential is all about the details. The last step of our planting process involves the area around the tree. Once it’s planted and the hole has been filled in, add three to four inches of hardwood mulch around the base of your tree to help the soil lock in moisture and maintain a constant temperature. The mulch also aids in keeping weeds, which could disrupt proper growth, at bay.
If you’re working with a larger tree, consider adding tree wrap and staking. The wrap will help protect your tree from wildlife damage and sunscald, and staking ensures the tree will grow straight.
We are your experts in native
Repairing and restoring local ecosystems through native plant growth isn’t just a job – it’s a passion and a lifestyle. Whether you’re looking to add new trees and plants to your native nursery or want to learn more about how natives benefit the environment, get in touch with a Forrest Keeling team member today.