A Beginners Guide to Tree Planting
Your tree is more likely to die if you don’t consider the factors that affect its development during their planting. Your trees’ health is directly correlated to the time, location, pre-planning, and species that you choose ever before planting.
72tree.com assembled the following guide with professional tips to help you properly plant and care for your tree.
Best Time to Plant Trees
There is much debate as to when the best tree planting time is. For more moderate climates such as the south, southeast, or southwest, either early fall or early spring are appropriate planting times.
For locations where there is winter snow cover or ground freeze, spring (after the ground thaws) is the best time to plant.
Now that you’ve decided to plant a tree and identified the best time, you’ll need to choose a suitable location. In doing so, take the following factors into consideration:
Sunlight – Does the planting location get full sun (all day), partial sun (morning or evening), or full shade (no sun)
Water – Most tree species require well-drained soil. If your chosen location is in a low-lying area or a depression, water may accumulate and stand, leading to root rot and other diseases.
Tip: Verify that your location is well-drained after a rainstorm or run a hose at the site to see how the water accumulates or runs off.
Soil – The soil where you plant your tree should be loose, mixed with organic material, and turned to avoid compaction.
Tip: Many tree species can thrive in a soil pH level between 5 (acidic) and 7(neutral). You can raise the soil pH by adding lime or limestone and reduce the pH by adding aluminum sulfate, sulfur, manure, or compost (pH levels above 7 are alkaline).
Spacing – When planting multiple trees, they can be spaced apart according to their mature canopy spread. Tree spacings from 20 to 60 feet apart are standard. This spacing allows the open-grown form of the tree canopy to develop naturally.
Conversely, when planted too close together, a tree may fail to reach its mature height and struggle to absorb enough sunlight and nutrients to remain healthy.
Tip: Follow spacing recommendations for your specific tree species.
Wind – The location you’ve selected should be observed over time to determine whether or not your tree will endure constant wind or violent wind gusts.
Tip: Stake young trees until they can support themselves without bending under pressure. Most trees will take one to two years before fully establishing their root systems.
Structures – A tree’s roots spread far from where it is planted. As roots spread, they thicken and may become invasive. When a tree is planted too close to a house, sidewalk, patio, or driveway, those roots can grow underneath the structure and break up or buckle the concrete.
Tip: Plant trees far from structures with concrete foundations or slabs, and install root barriers to protect building foundations, driveways, sidewalks, etc.
Protection – Weather and wildlife can stress or kill your tree as it matures. By planting shrubs near and around your tree, you can naturally lessen the impact of wind. Surrounding structures will also act in this capacity.
Tip: Discourage wildlife from grazing your tree’s foliage or damaging its bark by putting up chicken wire around the tree, using bark wraps, or by using chemical deterrents.
The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map defines planting zones from 1a to 13b. The zone in which you plan to plant a tree will determine which species you should select. You can determine your hardiness zone at planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/InteractiveMap.aspx
The species of tree you decide to plant can profoundly impact the surrounding landscape in various ways. Verify that the species you intend to plant is appropriate for the location in which you are planting and consider the following:
Deciduous or Evergreen Trees – If you want your tree to maintain a lush green appearance year-round, you are looking for an evergreen species which may include:
• Blue Spruce
• Scots Pine
• Green Giant Arborvitae
• Leyland Cypress
If you want to enjoy fall colors as your tree prepares to go dormant for the winter, you are looking for one of the many deciduous species which may include:
• Quaking Aspen
Tip: Regarding quaking aspens, the species has an invasive root system and will produce suckers that are clones of the original tree. When planting this species, be sure that it has enough space to grow and spread without obstruction.
Understory or Overstory – An understory tree may be best if your planting location is restricted or you desire a mid-sized tree. The following species are considered understory, and are shade tolerant reaching mature heights of 20 to 40 feet:
• Flowering Dogwood
• Eastern Redbud
• White Fringetree
• Japanese Maple
• Black Aldar
If you are looking for a tree that makes a statement by its size and you have the landscape to accommodate its growth, the following overstory species reach mature heights of 60 to over 100 feet:
• Southern Magnolia
• Green Ash
• White Oak
• Southern Red Oak
Tip: When planting multiple trees, understory trees can be planted near overstory trees as protection from strong or persistent winds.
For more info, refer to 72tree.com/tree-buying-tips/ before purchasing the trees you intend to plant.
Planting Your Tree
When planting a seedling or sapling, the following should be considered in the preparation of the planting location:
Surrounding Soil – Organic material or pH stabilizing material should be mixed into the soil in no less than a 2-foot radius of where the tree will be planted.
Tip: When transplanting a more developed tree, treat the soil in a 3 to 4-foot radius of the planting location.
Dig the Hole – Measure the distance from the bottom of the trunk to the bottom of the roots or root ball; this is how deep your hole must be. The hole must also be wide enough for the entire root ball to fit without being cramped or bent.
Tip: To confirm the accuracy of the depth, allow the tree to rest in the hole paying particular attention to where the roots connect to the tree. Known as the root flare, it should remain just above the ground.
Water in the Hole – Before planting your tree, provide a deep watering for the hole, allowing water to soak deep into the earth below. This moisture will encourage roots to grow deep.
Plant the Tree – Now that your hole is dug, the soil enriched, and the ground watered, place your tree in the hole covering the roots with soil up to the root flare.
Tip: When covering the roots with soil, do not overly compact it. Water the newly planted tree and allow the soil to settle. As the soil settles, add more to the top, keeping the root flare just above ground level.
Watering – Your newly planted tree should receive a deep watering 2 to 3 times per week. Avoid shallow waterings as they encourage roots to grow to the surface.
Tip: Use a slow-release watering system which maintains constant moisture while allowing proper drainage for excess water.
During rainy seasons, scale back the watering schedule and increase it during periods of drought. Don’t allow the soil to dry out for newly planted trees completely.
Fertilizer – If you have prepared the soil in and around the planting location, no fertilizing should be necessary for the first full year of growth.
Tip: Use organic mulch around the tree. As it decays, mulch releases nutrients into the soil. An added advantage is that mulch helps the soil retain moisture and warmth, both of which are fundamental for healthy root growth.
Tree Planting and Your Landscape
Your tree is likely to struggle and die without considering the factors that influence its growth when it is planted.
In this article, you discovered how to determine the correct tree species for your landscape, how to prepare the planting location, and pro tips to help you avoid common mistakes when planting a tree.
Your lack of knowledge about soil, sun, water, location, and species when planting a tree can result in its declining health and eventual death.
3 Evergreen Tree Species for Your Alpharetta and Roswell Yard
The difference between evergreen trees and deciduous trees becomes very obvious in the fall. Evergreens stay green and keep their foliage, while deciduous trees typically change the color of their leaves before dropping them and going dormant.
Evergreen trees do drop foliage, just not all at once. Throughout the year, they will drop small portions of their foliage and grow it back. These trees do not experience a dormant period like their deciduous counterparts, but they do slow down in the winter months.
For those with an aversion to raking up leaves in the fall, the arborist at 72tree.com identified 3 evergreen tree species to enhance your Alpharetta and Roswell Ga landscape.
Of the North American native tree species, pine trees are one of the most widely spread and varied classes. Because of their ability to adapt and the ease to care for them, pines remain very popular landscaping trees from coast to coast.
Height – Within the pine family, some of the species can reach an astounding 150 feet tall and live to be more than 450 years old.
Crown Width – Mature pine tree canopies can stretch from 15 t0 30 feet in diameter depending on the species and the environment it is planted in.
DBH – When pines such as these reach maturity, their trunk DBH (diameter at breast height) can measure from 2.5 to 4 feet. As with most trees, there is just as much happening below ground.
Root System – As pines develop an extensive, deep, expansive, and invasive root system, they should not be planted within 20 feet of permanent structures like fences, underground utility lines, or homes.
Pest Problems – Bark beetles, aphids, and bagworms are a few of the pests that enjoy making a meal of pine trees. Mites and tree scale are also likely.
Disease – Some of the more common diseases that affect pine trees are needlecast, root rot, and pine wilt.
Pesticides and fungicides can be used to curb the progress of these pests and diseases. However, in cases of severe infestation and infection, an arborist should be called to evaluate the tree and what actions should be taken (including the tree’s removal if necessary).
This classic Southern beauty (magnolia grandiflora) is very distinctive with its wide glossy leaves and enormous fragrant white blossoms. When it comes to year-round beauty, there are few trees that can keep up with it.
Its full luxurious look has made it a popular ornamental around the world.
This tree, although evergreen will drop leaves throughout the year. Growing anything beneath this tree (including grass) is difficult due to its dense foliage casting full shade and its shallow roots.
Height – A magnolia tree planted in a location with rich soil, little to no obstacles for the root system, and good soil drainage can reach heights of more than 80 feet.
Crown Width – While this tree possesses a pyramidal to rounded crown at the top, its width can reach 30 to 40 feet at the base and mid section.
DBH – Adult magnolias can reach a DBH of 24 to 36 inches. To reach this size takes anywhere from 80 to 100 years.
Root System – The species itself is a deep rooted one. First to develop is a strong tap root, then as the tree grows, many sunken roots will grow down from the root collar, and as the tree ages, major lateral roots will grow. When planted in areas with a high water table, the roots will grow more shallow and outward.
The optimum soil for this species is a rich, well drained, and slightly acidic one. When planting a magnolia, add generous amounts of organic material to the soil for the best growing conditions.
Although magnolia roots are not considered invasive, when planted too close to sidewalks or foundations, they will eventually cause undesired cracking and buckling.
Pest Problems – Varieties of scale, aphids, striped mealybug, spider mites, and magnolia leafminers are all potential infestation culprits.
Disease – There are a number of fungi which cause leaf spots. For the most part, they are unable to cause any significant damage to adult magnolias.
As well, there are a number of Polyporus fungi and Fomes which can cause heart rot.
Again, pesticides and fungicides can be used to curb the progress of these pests and diseases. When a severe infestation or infection is detected, an arborist should be called to assess what actions should be taken.
Of all of the evergreen trees you could want in your yard, eucalyptus should be at or near the top of the list. This species is a fast growing, insect repelling, and gorgeous tree that adds beauty and practicality to whatever landscape it grows in.
For most, the image you get when you hear “eucalyptus” is a koala bear latched on to a branch, munching away at the leaves. You may be surprised to learn that only the koala, some possum species, and a select few insects are actually able to consume parts of this species. In large quantities, this tree’s secret weapon (cineole) is toxic.
It is the cineole aka: eucalyptol in eucalyptus trees that make up the greatest part of its signature aroma. Eucalyptus essential oil has been used for centuries in the treatment of respiratory ailments, as a disinfectant, and as an antibacterial or anti-fungal agent in medicine.
Height – Eucalyptus tree sizes vary. Their height at maturity can range from 30 to 35 feet for smaller varieties all the way to over 200 feet for the tallest of the species.
These trees must be planted away from physical structures. Mature eucalyptus trees are known to unexpectedly drop branches.
Crown Width – The eucalyptus tree species will typically grow tall and relatively slender, with mature crowns reaching from 12 to 30 feet in diameter. Many varieties of the species are able to reach much greater diameters as they age.
DBH – Adult eucalyptus trees can reach a DBH of 15 to 20 inches.
It is worth mentioning that this species is able to reach maturity within 10 years of growth. That’s less than half (in some cases less than a third) of the time it takes for the majority of other species to reach maturity.
Root System – This species quickly adapts to the soil it is planted in. In rich, fertile soil, the roots have no need to go deep. The tree is on a fast track for height and the roots will spread horizontally staying close to the surface.
In more nutrient deprived soil, the roots will dive deep for their food and moisture source. Counterintuitively, it is the eucalyptus planted in poor soil that grows to be the more stable and wind or storm resistant.
Pest Problems – Little to none (as long as the tree remains healthy). High concentrations of cineole in all parts of eucalyptus trees acts a natural insect repellant.
Two species of Australian tortoise beetles (family Chrysomelidae) (still isolated in the west) chew semicircular holes or notches on edges of eucalyptus leaves.
These beetles are able to remove most of a leaf’s surface, leaving only the midvein.The damage caused by these beetles is unsightly but not life threatening to the tree.
If a tree is stressed enough, an opportunity opens up for the eucalyptus longhorn borer. The female of this species lays her eggs on stressed trees, producing larvae that burrow their way to the cambium layer.
A heavily infested tree can die within weeks, which is due to the larval galleries girdling the tree and disrupting the flow of water and nutrients.
Infestations must be treated immediately. Because of the speed at which death can occur, an arborist should be called to evaluate the tree and determine what actions to take.
Disease – Canker, heart rot, and Phytophthora can infect a stressed eucalyptus tree. All three of these fungi attack and damage the tree from the inside.
Signs of infection are discolored leaves and in severe cases, splitting of the trunk. In any of these cases, the tree should be removed, destroyed (burned) and all equipment disinfected to prevent the disease from spreading to other trees.
Tree Care for Evergreens
As long as evergreens are planted in hardiness zones where they can thrive and get ample summer sunlight and winter shade (possibly on the north side of your property), caring for these trees is relatively simple.
Water them regularly and mulch around their trunk. This will keep them strong and winter injury resistant. Evergreens (when not mulched or watered well) can be severely injured by the drying effects of the sun and wind through winter months.
A major benefit of evergreens in your yard is that there is no bad season. Even during the coldest days of winter, your landscape will be filled with full, and vibrantly-green trees.