“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” –Chinese Proverb
A thought provoking proverb that is definitely true this month. October can be a great time to add a few new trees to your property. Fall’s milder temperatures during initial root growth give roots a great head start as opposed to planting in the spring when harsh summer temperatures follow. Also, fall often has more rain than late spring and summer, which allows for better watering during the initial root growth.
Fall or spring, the rules for planting are still the same.
– Remember to start by selecting the right tree and then plant it correctly.
– Make sure to dig a hole 2-3 times wider than the width of the root ball. Do not dig the hole too deep. The top of the root ball should be even with the grade or 2’’ higher than the original grade.
– Balled and burlap trees should have all of the ropes cut, and the burlap pulled 1/3 of the way down. If the tree is in a wire basket, cut the top of the basket approximately 1/3 down as well. Container grown trees should have the plastic or metal container completely removed.
– Once the tree is gently put in place, partially backfill the hole with soil. Tamp the soil to get air pockets out, but be careful not to step on the root ball.
– Remember you do not need stake the tree unless it is truly needed. If a stake is needed make sure to only use the stake for a maximum of one year.
– Mulch the tree with approximately a 2-3” layer of mulch to help protect the tree and lock in moisture.
– Water the tree with a good soak, especially dry spells.
Once your tree is planted make sure to monitor it for problems. You can prune any damaged, rubbing, crossing or dead limbs, but be careful not to be too aggressive while the tree is getting established. Correct planting and early care will give you more than an aesthetically pleasing tree, a well-maintained, mature, healthy tree can increase the value of your property by up to 25%, depending on the size, species and location. A little attention and proper care can greatly improve the health and life of your newly planted tree for years to come!