Whether you’re a new homeowner or just looking to improve your property values, landscaping with new saplings or seedlings can be incredibly gratifying. But it’s also important to get it right the first time. So here are our suggestions for successfully adding new trees to your outdoor space:
Be Ready to Commit
Taking care of a tree means you’re in it for the long term. Your tree could very likely outlive you! Think about your lifestyle and decide whether you want a tree that’s going to require a lot of care (but deliver great rewards with flowering buds, colorful fall leaves or an unusual appearance) or a “plant it and forget it” type of tree.
Think About Where You Live
Some trees flourish in urban environments. Others need a lot of space to grow and thrive. If your soil is less than stellar, you may need to fertilize. And, of course, it almost goes without saying that you shouldn’t plant tall trees under power lines – you’ll just end up having to cut them down when they reach their full growth, and what’s the point in that?
Virtually any attractive tree will increase your property values, so that’s one consideration, but you should also think about whether your goal is shade in the summer and more sunlight in the winter. If that’s the case, then you’ll want a deciduous tree – one that provides shade in the hot weather and drops its leaves in the fall. Perhaps you want a privacy screen, or you like seeing a bit of green during the winter – then you’ll want to select an evergreen. If you have the space choosing a mix of the two will give you the most attractive outcome.
Planting Your Tree
There are several steps involved in making sure your tree is planted correctly. First, make sure that your tree has room to breathe – when you remove it from the container, loosen up the roots, and place the tree in a hole that you’ve dug. Make sure that the hole is at least as deep as the root ball before you loosened up the roots and approximately three times as wide. Make sure to get it right the first time, because repeated planting and digging up will traumatize the tree. Make sure to hold the tree upright in the hole, fill in around the roots, and tamp the soil down. Then water generously.
Caring For Your Tree
You need to fertilize, water, and mulch. Some species also require pruning (but only dead or problem branches in the first year). You’ll also have to watch out for issues like insects, dead wood, stem rot, cracked trunks and bark damage. You do not need to use fertilizer or amendments during the first year. When you do add these elements in, go easy on the fertilizer – “high number” fertilizers can contain too much nitrogen which may harm your tree. Choose a light fertilizer like 6-6-4. Remember that water is the most important element your tree can receive – if your soil is good, you might not even need fertilizer, because the water will help transfer the natural soil nutrients to your tree.
Do this as little as possible. You may, however, find that you’ve made a common mistake and planted trees too close together. If this is the case, try to transplant early, because the bigger the tree is, the less likely it will be to tolerate transplanting.
Watch for Health Issues
Is your tree growing more slowly than it did last year? If it is, it might not be cause for concern – sometimes growth slows down a bit. If you’re seeing a dramatic reduction in growth, though, that could be a sign of an unhealthy tree. An arborist can offer advice. With mature trees, watch for dead limbs and deterioration in the bark. These could be signs of illness.
From initial planting throughout the life of your tree, some care and maintenance will be required. Fortunately, it’s not really all that complicated, and if you run into trouble, Growing Earth Tree Care can help. Call today, (703) 818-8228 and let’s get growing!