Trees are a valuable investment–they help cool our homes, clean the air, provide habitat for wildlife and make our neighborhoods a pleasant place to live. Planting properly increases their ability to provide these benefits.
Take a look at our top five recommendations for planting trees:
1. Spare Your Back...Don't Dig Too Deep
When you're planting, be sure to compensate for the settling of air pockets in the soil, which can eventually result in the plant sinking down a few inches from where you planted it. Print our tree planting guide for reference. Dig your hole wider than it is deep, with an undisturbed "pedestal" of soil for the root ball to sit on. The pedestal keeps it from settling below the soil line. Remember, the majority of tree roots are in the top 24" of soil, roots tend to go wide rather than deep.
2. Stakes Promote Strength
When you buy your tree, you'll notice it has a small stake attached to it, usually tied to the trunk with green gardener's tape. This is the nursery stake, also called a transportation stake, to help trees survive transport in the nursery. It's not substantial enough to support the tree after it's been planted, and should be removed and replaced with two proper tree stakes, or lodge poles, and one or two flexible ties. Staking is essential for supporting your tree while it's developing an extensive root system, and until it can support itself. Allow for flexibility in the wind to grow a strong trunk.
Again, refer to our tree planting guide to learn about best practices when staking trees.
3. Watering Longer, Less Often
Say it with me now: deep, infrequent watering; the best irrigation practice for most plants, and it's essential for trees. When we say "deep" that means getting water all the way to the root base. Drip irrigation is ideal because it can release a very small amount of water, over a long period of time, which thoroughly saturates an area with minimal soil erosion and runoff. Generally speaking, the top six inches of soil should be allowed to dry out before being watered again.
Depending on the size of the tree, it's location, your soil texture and the season, this may be two-to-three times per week at first, while the tree is getting established. To get on the correct schedule, start off by probing the soil before each watering, if it's moist six inches down by the rootball of a newly planted tree, there is no need to water. Helpful tips for watering trees on our Watering 101 Guide.
4. Right Tree, Right Place?
For long-term benefit, select a tree that will fit in the space you've chosen to plant it, do well in your soil, and be happy with the exposure it will get. Green Acres Nursery & Supply partnered with the Sacramento Tree Foundation to publish The Shady Eighty, a tree guide packed with information about trees that thrive in the Sacramento region. Visit any one of our five locations, to pick up the guide and we we'll be happy to show you which trees will work for your specific situation.
5. TLC (Transplanting Love & Care)
Transplanting can be a traumatic experience. It's stressful to be transported to a different spot, uprooted, stuck in the ground and expected to acclimate to a completely new environment. There are a few things we recommend to ease the transition and help trees become established more quickly:
- Mulching regulates soil temperatures, slows the evaporation of water in the soil, mitigates erosion, feeds beneficial soil microorganisms, and suppresses water-thirsty weeds. To set yourself up for success, every tree you plant should be mulched at least 2-3" deep around the base of the tree (leaving six inches of bare soil around the trunk).
- Fertilize with an organic starter fertilizer such as E.B. Stone™ Sure Start™. It contains beneficial organisms, such as mycorrhizae, which form a relationship with roots. That symbiosis extends the capacity of roots to take up water and nutrients. Plus, because it's organic, you don't have to worry about shocking the roots, or burning them, with salt build-up.
- Check the weather after transplanting. If temperatures are above 90°F or it's going to be very windy, mist the foliage of your tree with Bonide Wilt Stop® to help slow transpiration (water loss through the leaves).
Now that you know how to care for your living investment, check out the Top Ten Legacy Trees for Sacramento.