A Guide to Tree Planting

Points of Consideration

As a homeowner, we have a responsibility when planting trees. Of course, we want to choose a tree that is colorful whether that be with beautiful fall foliage or lovely summer blooms but that isn’t the only thing we have to consider. We will cover the main topics that should be considered when selecting and planting. Of course, if you have questions or concerns, a great source of information is Queen City Tree Service that comes with over 20 years of experience. You can trust us to provide an exceptional tree care service and also provide information as the best course of action for future care.

Best Time To Plant Trees

This has always been a topic of debate as to when is the best time to plant a tree. For moderate climates such as the south, southwest or the southeast, either early fall or early spring. Both of these are appropriate times for planting. There is much debate as to when the best tree planting time is.

For more moderate climates such as the south, southeast, or southwest, either early fall or early spring are appropriate planting times. For deciduous trees planting them in the fall allows the roots to get established before the heat of the summer. Trees can be planted when the ground is still warm, before winter freezes. It is best to for deciduous trees if the ground is 50 degrees for several days and for evergreens a stable 60 degrees. For locations where temperatures are consistently low with ground freeze and winter snow coverage, spring thaw is the optimal time to plant.

Tree Location

You have decided to plant a tree, and identified the best time to plant, the next step is to choose a suitable location. There are several points to consider:

Light – How much light does the planting location get, full sun (all day), partial sun (morning or afternoon) or full shade (no sun).

Water – Most trees varieties require well drained soil. Choose a location that is not a low-lying area where water accumulates or stands. Trees with wet feet could lead to root rot and other diseases. You can test the chosen location by running a hose at the site to see how the water runs off or accumulates.

Soil – The area where you plant your tree should be loose, not compacted material. If you have clay or compacted soil, add organic matter, and mix well into the area. Many tree varieties can thrive in a soil pH level between 5 (acidic) and 7 (neutral). You can increase the soil pH by adding lime and reduce the pH by amending it with aluminum sulfate, sulfur, manure or compost.

Spacing – When planting trees, it is crucial they have enough space for the mature size. When deciding the location, locate buildings, other trees/shrubs and also overhead power lines. When planting more than one tree, they can be spaced apart according to the mature canopy spread. A standard spacing range from 20 to 60 feet apart depending on the selection. If planted too close together, trees may fail to reach their mature size and struggle to absorb enough light and nutrients to remain healthy. Follow spacing recommendations for your specific tree species.

Wind – The location you have chosen should be monitored over time to determine whether your tree will endure constant wind or wind gusts. Stake young trees until they can support themselves against constant wind. Trees that aren’t supported may bend under the pressure, resulting in undesirable form. Most trees take one to two years before establishing a root system fully.

Structures – A tree’s roots spread far from where it is planted. As they spread, they thicken and can become invasive if planted too close to a house, sidewalk, patio or driveway. Roots can grow underneath the structure and break or buckle concrete, and crack foundations. Ideally, plant trees far from structures with concrete foundations or slabs. At the very least, install root barriers to protect your structures.

Protection – Outside factors, such as weather or wildlife, can stress or kill your tree as it grows. Wildlife can be deterred from grazing on your tree’s foliage or damaging its bark by putting up chicken wire around the tree, using bark wraps, or by using chemical deterrents. Nearby structures of shrubs, can naturally lessen the impact of wind.

Tree Species

Tree Species

Before choosing your tree variety, determine your hardiness zone. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map defines planting zones from 1a to 13b. The zone you’re in will determine which species you select. Follow the link to help you determine your zone: planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/InteractiveMap.aspx .

You have decided to plant a tree and the species of tree you plant can profoundly impact the landscape in various ways. Verify that the variety you choose is appropriate for the planting location and conder the following:

Evergreen – Evergreen trees maintain a lush green year-round appearance. They do not drop leaves or needles and may include species such as: Blue Spruce, Scots Pine, Green Gian Arborvitae, Magnolia, Holly or Leyland Cypress.

Deciduous – If you want to fall color as your tree prepares to go dormant for the winter, you are looking for a deciduous tree that drops it leaves for the winter. To list a few: Oaks, Maples Birch, Sweetgum, Tulip or Quaking Aspen. Note: The quaking aspens species have invasive root systems and will produce suckers that are clones of the original tree. When planting this species, be sure that it has enough space to grow and spread without obstruction.

Understory vs Overstory – Understory trees can survive with lower light conditions since they are typically shaded by taller trees. Usually, these trees are mid-sized trees. The following varieties are considered understory, shade tolerant and only reach heights varying from 20-40 feet: Flowering Dogwood, Eastern Redbud, White Fringetree, Japanese Maple, Black Aldar.

If you are looking for larger trees that make a grand size statement, overstory trees would be your best choice reaching mature heights ranging from 60-100 feet. A few examples are: Southern Magnolia, Green Ash, White Oak, Southern Red Oak.

You may also want to plant both, typically the understory trees are planted near the overstory trees which provide some protection from strong winds. For more info, refer to 72tree.com/tree-buying-tips/ before purchasing the trees you intend to plant.

Planting Your Tree

When planting a young sapling, consider:

Surrounding Soil – Prep with organic material if your soil is not ideal. This should be done in a 2-foot radius of where the tree will be planted. Note: when installing a more developed tree, prepare the soil in a 3-4 foot radius.

Dig the Hole – Measure the depth from the soil level of your tree to where the roots are or the bottom of the pot, this should be the depth of your hole. The width of the hole should be 2x the size of the root ball or pot the tree is in. When inserting the tree into the prepared hole, confirm the root flare is ust above the ground and do not add any additional soil on top of the crown.

Water in the Tree – By adding water to the hole before putting the tree in, this allows water to soak deep into the earth below. This moisture will encourage roots to grow deep.

Plant the Tree – Plant your tree in the prepared hole and cover it with soil up to the roof flare. Water the newly planted tree and allow the soil to settle. If any settling of the soil occurs, add more as needed.

Watering – Your new tree will need deep watering 2-3 times per week. Deep watering will encourage roots to grow deep, avoiding shallow watering which tend to bring the roots to the soil surface. During the rainy seasons, decrease your watering schedule and increase watering if there has been little to no rain. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely on newly planted trees.

Fertilizer – A slow-release fertilizer in small amounts is healthy for your newly planted tree. Once, the spring growing season rolls around, another application of slow-release fertilizer may be needed.

Mulch – Mulch the area around the tree, paying close attention to not touch the bark of the tree with any mulch. Mulch will help retain moisture and warmth in the soil and will also decay, releasing nutrients into the soil. Both of which will aid in healthy root growth.

Tree Planting and Your Knowledge

Without taking into consideration all the factors discussed in this article, your newly planted tree my struggle or influence its growth. This article should help determine the correct tree species for your landscape, how to prepare the planting location and tips on how to plant. Without this knowledge a tree can result in declining health and eventually death. If you find yourself in need of expertise, Queen City Tree Service is always here to help with our team of certified arborist. We are armed with 20+ years of experience to help with your tree assessment needs. Call today, 704-606-9696, we will be glad to quote your tree needs, we offer: Pruning, Tree Trimming, Crown Reductions, Fertilization Services and Tree & Stump Removals.