Yesterday, after many days of no rain, our neighbor was planting three
dogwood trees. I spoke to him briefly as he was planting the first one.
He had just finished filling the hole around the roots and was replacing
the sod around the trunk of the tree. Seeing no garden hose, I asked him
if he had filled the hole with water to which he replied he would water
them after he was done. I mentioned it might be good to fill the hole
with water before putting in the tree and maybe again after the tree
positioned and the hole partly filled so the roots would have plenty of
water to get started. He said that he didn't need to do that, that all he
had to do was water it after it was planted. In the past, their idea of
watering a plant is to have the hose there for 2 or 3 minutes at the most
and move on. When finishing, they spent less than five minutes watering
all three trees. These trees are between the sidewalk and the street
which is extra dry anyway because there is little chance of water
retention in the soil because of the moisture radiating (not the right
word!) into the totally dry soil under the street and sidewalk.
Am I mistaken in the belief that this is not the best way to plant a tree
or anything else? I ask because many years ago, someone told me that
before planting a potted plant or shrub, or transplanting, the roots of
the plant should be thoroughly soaked with water and to wait at least a
half-hour before doing anything with the plant. The purpose of this is to
supercharge the roots with water so the fine feeder roots have minimal
damage with less shock to the plant. I was told that if the roots are dry,
the fine feeder roots will break leaving the plant "crippled" for recovery.
Because this sounded very logical, it's a process I've used throughout my
life. My luck initially has been quite good and I have transplanted many,
many plants, both from pots and from the ground, and have never lost even
one in the first few weeks/months. When I moved here, we even
transplanted some large rhodies (one 12-feet tall) with this method (and a
backhoe) to have them all live. Other plants moved then were many lilac
bushes (fully grown) and an 11-year-old apple tree; all are thriving and
it's been 4-1/2 years. The tree expert who physically moved the apple
tree told me it would never live! If I were to follow the neighbor's
method, then I've really done a lot of extra work when I plant/transplant
plants/bushes. As an added note, I transplant in the dark of the moon
What is the procedure you use for transplanting? Do you "overuse" the
water like I do or do you transplant "dry" as he did?
You can argue this issue either way, but not knowing the kind of soil in
which the trees were planted and the moisture content of the soil makes it
hard to evaluate remotely. The fact that it had rained for several days
might indicate that the soil was nice and damp, so maybe he had the right
approach. Where I live, we have lots of clay about one foot down, so filling
the hole with water would create a retention area and possibly
drown the roots, so I usually layer in the soil, patting it down, and
then adding some water to that layer. Having the hole full of water would make
the patting down process messy. Besides getting the roots nice and wet,
you want to be sure and have good soil contact with all the roots,
making your system difficult and as stated before, messy. Unless your
soil has good drainage, it sounds as if you may be over watering the planting,
and possibly drowning the roots. You are correct about pre-soaking the roots.
Glenna Rose wrote:
You misunderstood, it was after many days of *no* rain which left the soil
very dry. As I've been removing the sod on part of my front yard, it is
dusty, not at all damp. If I were to dig a hole in the garden, it'd be
dry at least six inches down, maybe slightly moist at four inches but not
at all wet.
We have excellent drainage with sandy soil. The drainage is so good in
this part of town that the only time there are basement leaks is if there
is a crack of some sort *and* a downspout not connected to a drain taking
it away from the house. When they replaced our sanitary sewer line in
1999, the ditch collapsed all the way to the curbing (and under on my side
of the street) even though the line was in the middle of the street . . .
very good drainage, never any standing water in our part of town. This is
very good for my house because there was never a vapor barrier put under
it in the crawl space portion (built in the 40s).
However, my middle son, living in east county, had to put in drainage to
grow a lawn. Even in the summer, it was squishy! They have raised beds
so they can grow strawberries and veggies.
I must admit that I smiled when I read this part, but knowing you had no
idea how well drained our soil is, it would be a logical conclusion to
reach and would be true in many, many soils. Here, however, by the time I
get the plant into the hole, the water has already drained down and
leached across and the hole is only wet with no/little water in it. After
I fill the hole with water with the plant in it, really the only thing
that water seems to do is to help the roots spread though some water will
stay in the bottom of the hole depending on what the previous weather has
been. I then fill the hole with loose soil and water again letting the
water "settle-in" the soil and only patting after it's filled. Rarely is
it messy because of the drainage though it would surely be a real mess in
many gardens. I'm one of those fortunates who has always lived in areas
of good drainage and fertile soil. However, the friend who planted the
lilacs, etc., for me dug down (at my request) to see what was underneath
it all, and it is solid clay 2-3 feet down. The clay that close to the
surface would likely explain why, with the good drainage, that I don't
have to water every single day. We live within 2-3 miles of the river so
our sandy loam-type soil (in uncultivated areas) is probably a result of
the geology of it all. Honestly, I could not have special ordered better
conditions to producing a good garden; with proper composting, etc., it
will always be good soil. Sadly, there are many people who must do far
more to achieve a good garden basis. I grew up in eastern Washington, the
granddaughter of a farmer who firmly believed in crop rotation as a way of
building up the soil, practiced it and had, as a result, better yield than
many of his neighbors.
Your comments about messy would be absolutely true for many areas, just
not our little pocket of the county. Unless something is in a pot here,
it would be nearly impossible to over water it without doing something
other than just planting straight into the ground. Even during the worst
of our seemingly never-ending winter rains, there is never standing water
on any soil which is not at all true in most other parts of the
city/county (and not true of the streets!). They, sadly, have a clay
"top-soil" and not this wonderful sandy loam-like stuff like our little
area. Friends, 14 miles north of me, have to grow *everything* in pots or
the roots will drown, even in the hottest part of summer. They even had
to build up dirt in their yard so they could have a lawn, so sad since
they have five acres, but five acres of clay.
Thank you, Sherwin, for verifying the pre-soaking. I've not read the
information anywhere else and know most people don't bother and have even
been told I am nuts to do it<g>. But maybe I've read it and read over it
because it was already familiar. However, none of the garden-type shows
I've watched has ever mentioned it. I even let the garden house drip
overnight over roots that are wrapped in burlap, probably extreme but it's
worked so far. As I always say, things grow in spite of me, not because
who is headed back out to the yard/garden
il Mon, 12 Apr 2004 09:07:27 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org (Glenna Rose) ha
Stick to your careful care. The fact that your neighbour has any
living trees will be a testament to vegetation's desire to live, not
to any skills on his part.
The Japanese were moving giant full grown trees back in the days when
they had to be drawn by a team of horses. The roots were wrapped in
hessian and kept soaked. I imagine they took lots of care that
overcame the low-tech style of achieving it.
Loki [ Brevity is the soul of wit. W.Shakespeare ]
il Tue, 18 May 2004 01:22:36 -0400, Anonymous ha scritto:
Well, I couldn't say for sure it was hessian in the photos but it is
what coal sacks were made of and sarking as well. Is it what you call
burlap? It's synonymous in my dictionary. Made from jute or hemp.
Loki [ Brevity is the soul of wit. W.Shakespeare ]
One of two things will happen:
1 The trees will thrive despite it all, leaving you to wonder how
he managed to be so lucky.
2 The trees will produce poor growth this summer and may die. He
will call the place where he purchased them and complain loudly that
they sold him bad trees.
Your method is correct. If you ever plant a bare root tree, it is
even more important to do it your way. You want to cover most of the
roots with soil then fill the hole to the top with water. After that
soaks in, add more soil and soak it again. You NEED soil to fill in
between the roots and not leave air pockets. You really can't use
too much water on planting day. (If the drainage is so poor that
there is worry about drowning roots, most trees are not going to
thrive there anyway.)
Take a good look at those trees in July or August and let us know
how they look.
Glenna Rose wrote:
Thank you, Steve. Apparently his wife had told him the same thing I
suggested to him, and he told her it would be too messy!
Not only have we not had rain for over a week before planting, but it
doesn't look like we are getting the several days of rain that was
forecast for yesterday. Add the lack of rain before and after planting to
our already extremely well-draining soil and the only chance these trees
will have will be if his wife does, indeed as she said she is going to do,
give them a good soaking every other day.
Sounds good to me. I don't know the precise reason, but assume that the
finer roots will inevitably be damaged in the process, and that as many
of the surviving rootlets as possible should be immersed in moisture so
that the plant can still manage to draw up what it needs to replace that
being lost through the leaves. That's why removing half the leaves is
sometimes recommended, to limit the amount of water loss on hot days.
Probably some seedlings are more tolerant of dry conditions than others,
so people find they can get away with less attention to the trees needs
with some species. Most are sufficiently expensive that when transplanting
I'm more than happy to supply all the water I can! It's good insurance.
John Savage (news address invalid; keep news replies in newsgroup)
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