Tree Inventory Description

Correct planting technique begins with the transportation of the tree. Trees should be handled carefully as they are transported to their new site. Always protect the roots, stems and foliage being sure to also shield the plant tops from winds. Be careful to never pick a tree up by the trunk. Take care to lift plants from underneath the root ball with the appropriate equipment.

Having chosen a tree for a specific site, you should first consider how the tree is grown in the nursery. Inspect the wrapping around the root ball. Many synthetic materials are used as well as burlap treated to retard degradation when wrapping root balls and many of these materials will not degrade. Therefore, these materials should be removed from around the root and discarded.

Also, remove all rope, whether jute or nylon, from the trunk as degradation of these materials is very slow and ropes can girdle trunks and roots.

When handling container-grown trees, remove the plastic containers before planting. For plants in fiber pots, break away the top or remove the pot entirely. Many fiber pots are coated to extend their shelf life, but this slows degradation below ground and retards root extension.

If roots are circling around the root ball exterior, cut through the roots in a few places. This will help to prevent circle roots from girdling the trunk. To avoid purchasing trees with circling roots, select trees grown in containers with vertical ribs or copper treatments on the interior container wall.

A properly planted tree will be more tolerant of adverse conditions and require much less management than one planted incorrectly. Proper planting impacts water quality as it minimizes water, fertilizer and pesticide use.

The most important considerations when planting trees are the site where the tree will be planted and the depth of the planting. Don’t plant too deep. It is far more acceptable to plant in a raised manner to avoid drowning or suffocating the roots. Planting holes should be dug 2 to 3 times wider than the root ball and only as deep as the root ball. Wide, shallow holes encourage horizontal root growth that trees and shrubs naturally produce.

For the most efficient use of water, an earthen dam should be constructed 4 to 6 inches high around the dripzone area of the plant. Water will then collect in this basin and move slowly down into the planting hole, thereby minimizing runoff.

Dig holes as deep as the root ball in well-drained soil and in poorly-drained soils, dig holes 1 to 2 inches more shallow than the root ball. When this is the case, cover the exposed root ball top with mulch.

Be careful to avoid digging holes deeper than root balls and do not put loose soil beneath roots because the loose soil will compact over time leaving trees and shrubs planted too deeply. Holes should be wider near the soil surface as this is where most root growth occurs. When digging with a machine, such as an auger or backhoe, score the walls of the hole to prevent glazing.

Holes should be backfilled with existing un-amended soil. Organic matter should not be incorporated into backfill for individual planting holes. This should be adhered to in order to prevent problems with water movement and root growth between the root ball, planting hole and the surrounding soil. When backfilling, first backfill half the soil, then water thoroughly to settle out air pockets. Finish backfilling and then water again. Cover any exposed root ball tops with mulch.

Slow-release granular fertilizers should only be incorporated into backfill to provide nitrogen or when a soil test indicates a need for phosphorous or potassium. Fast-release agronomic fertilizers should be avoided as they can dehydrate tree roots.

Tree Inventory Methods
Decision Guide
Tree Planting
Wildlife Management Planting
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