Quite often Im asked a variation on the same question. Sometimes the
question is asked by visitors to my nursery; other times I find the
question in my e-mail from a reader of this column. And sometimes the
question remains unasked by someone who doesnt want to appear dumb.
This is the question:
How easy is it to plant a tree?
That is most certainly not a dumb question. But often its only half a
question. Why? Because when most people ask the question, they really
want to know how easy it is to plant trees successfully so that they
thrive and grow to maturity.
Another point to remember is that some trees are easier to grow than
others, regardless of your level of expertise. Ill have some
suggestions for you in this column. But first, lets think about the
absolute basics of introducing the tree into your landscape.
Different varieties of trees have different needs, but a non-profit
web site operated by American Forests has some excellent general tree-
planting tips, including the following:
Select a site with enough room for roots and branches to reach full
size. Avoid overhead and
Prepare a planting area as deep as the root ball and three to five
times its diameter by loosening the soil.
Dig a hole in the middle of the area and set the root ball even with
the ground level.
Use water to settle soil and remove air pockets in planting area.
Stake the tree to flex with the wind only if tree is unable to stand
up to wind.
Spread a two to three inch layer of mulch on entire area, but not
within six inches of tree trunk.
You can find the entire article, along with some helpful diagrams
here: http://www.americanforests.org/resources/howtoplanttrees/ and
there is a direct link from this column at my web site. Go to
www.landsteward.org then find this column under The Plant Man heading.
There are ways you can put the odds in your favor when it comes to
planting trees that are more likely to thrive and grow successfully.
Heres a word I want you to remember: Transplants.
Transplants are hardier, huskier, and more allaround balanced plants
than seedlings. When planted in your landscape, the transplant has a
greater chance of survival since it has already survived the shock of
being transplanted once at the nursery.
With spring in the air, lets think about some beautiful flowering
trees that work very well (and are much easier to grow) as
White Flowering Cherry (Prunus yedoensis). This is also known as
Yoshino Cherry and is a rapidly growing tree that is
extraordinarily beautiful in Spring when it is covered with white
blossoms that resemble cotton candy. These trees can eventually reach
40 ft. and make excellent street trees.
Kwanzan Cherry. Id say this is the showiest of all Japanese trees. I
love the awesome bundles of large pink blossoms that last longer than
those of other flowering cherries.
Cleveland Select Flowering Pear. If you like to see a lot of blooms,
the Cleveland Select seems to have more than other varieties of
flowering pear. This variety is hardy, deciduous, disease-resistant
and grows more upright than the Bradford to around 30 - 40 ft high.
Forest Pansy Redbud. Something a little out of the ordinary, but well
worth planting if you can find it! It is a beautiful ornamental tree
that perfect for the small garden as well as more ambitious
landscaping projects. Unlike the native Redbud (cercis Canadensis),
the Forest Pansy has blooms of a deep maroon color.
Dogwood Kousa (Cornus kousa). Also known as a Japanese flowering
dogwood, the Kousa is not as susceptible to disease as the white
dogwood, and thats a major benefit. Great as a specimen, in groupings
or near a patio, it blooms later, around June with a softer petal
So, if youre looking for an easier and more foolproof way of planting
healthy successful trees without a lot of worry or risk, remember to
look for transplants!
Let me know if I can help you with your specific tree planting
challenges. Note that some of the information here appeared in an
earlier Plant Man column published in April 2003 and included here by
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and
additional information, including archived columns, visit www.landsteward.org