Tree Planting Techniques Mark J. Platten CSU Extension Director, Teller County Planting Seedlings • Best time is early spring before they break dormancy – beginning of March to end of May. Late fall, October is also a good time. – This allows the most time for roots to develop. • CSFS sells seedlings in both potted and bare root stock. • Looking into grants to help assist over the next few years. Seedling in a Soil Container • Ideal to plant as soon as possible. – Keep in a cool, protected area and harden off if possible. – Keep moist, but not saturated • Follow proper spacing – based on species. • Keep seedlings protected while planting. Planting Seedlings in a Soil Container 1. Dig a hole 6-12” in diameter and to a depth where the root collar is slightly above ground level. 2. Remove seedling without breaking the root ball. 3. Place in hole. 4. Pull loose soil over roots, filling the hole halfway. 5. Lightly tamp soil, and backfill remainder of the way (don’t add topsoil, peat, or fertilizer.) 6. Water at rate of 1-2 gallons per seedling – this settles the soil so no additional tamping is needed. 7. Place 2” of organic mulch around seedling. 8. You may want to put tree tubes or repellants on trees. Bare Root Seedlings • Ideal to plant as soon as possible. – Keep roots protected from air, sunlight, and drying out. • Follow proper spacing. • Keep seedlings protected while planting in a bucket of polymer or soil slurry. Planting bare root trees Generally, at least 2 structural roots within the top 1-3”, measured 3-4” from trunk. Top of soil 1” above grade with backfill soil tapering away Spread roots horizontally Shallow saucer-shaped planting hole, 3 times root spread **Follow steps 4-7 for container seedlings to complete planting Transplanting Trees • Best timing is spring and fall – Keep soil in place with burlap or other material. – Generally only capture 5-20% of small root mass. • Follow proper spacing. • Follow proper planting techniques identified on the following slides. • Generally, for each inch of tree diameter, it takes a full year to establish the roots. Step 1. Determine depth of planting hole Epidemic of planting too deep Trunk girdling roots o Caused by planting too deep o May show up 12-20 years after planting o May be below soil level o Trunk girdling roots kill more landscape trees than all other causes combined. Root ball rises 1-2” above grade Imperative that top of root ball comes to surface No backfill soil over top of root ball 1” diameter tree -- 1” above grade 2-4” diameter tree -- 2” above grade Tree too deep in root ball Correct in the planting process 1. Adjust depth of planting hole 2. Remove excess soil during the backfill step Step 2. Saucer shaped planting hole, 3x root ball diameter Brings roots up when low soil oxygen limits growth. When dug with an auger o During backfill, cut back sides, creating saucer shape On slopes, plant “out-of-hill” Planted “In to Hill” Step 3. Set tree in place, removing container/wrappings Container grown nursery stock a. Lay tree on side in or near planting hole b. Wiggle or cut off container c. Do NOT pick up tree by its trunk. Container grown nursery stock To deal with circling roots, shave off the outer 1-1½” of the root ball with a knife, saw, or pruners. Balled and Burlap Trees Remove all wrapping (fabric, twine, wire basket, etc.) on upper 12 inches or upper 2/3, which ever is greater. Step 4. Backfill with site soil Lightly firm Best to water-pack soil Do not stomp or pack tightly Top of root ball rises 1-2” above grade No backfill soil over top of root ball Backfill soils covers knees, tapering down Amending back fill with organic matter o Routine procedure o Sale of soil amendments = good marketing o Arborists divided on benefits o Some always amend o Others never amend o No more than 5% o No fertilizer added o Adds growth to top instead of roots. Why Mulch? • 400% increase in fine root development under mulch compared to grass • 20% faster top growth on mulched trees • Protects trunk from lawnmower injury • Don’t put mulch around the trunk, it invites voles and disease. Questions?