ORLANDO, Fla. —A good time to plan is in early spring or fall, so the tree has time to acclimate before the harsh weather of winter or summer, although here in Florida trees could be planted in the winter.
Any good planter knows spring is the smartest time to plant trees, due to the fact spring planting allows trees to become established sooner, grow more, and prosper better when the warm weather comes. Planting in the spring is even more important when planting bare rootstock. The majority of encapsulated and container-grown stock can be planted any other time in the growing season, but greatly benefit from being planted in the spring.
When in the process of transporting trees, it is important to protect them from large amounts of wind, drying, and rough handling. You may have seen that landscapers carrying trees drive slower than the rest with no apparent reason. The planting hole should be dug no less than two feet as wide of the root system. The trees should be planted around an inch higher than the depth of the container they grew in. Pockets of air should be eradicated through the process of watering and packing after the tree has been planted. Fill in the planting hole with a combination of nearby soil, and soil enhancements such as natural material or topsoil.
Trees need a good amount of water throughout the growing season; water throughout the summer is vital to a tree’s establishment. Short and constant watering stunts deep root growth, so a slow flow of water for a few hours at the base of a tree works best.
Some important things to know before you plant your tree:
- Before beginning any excavation, call 811 to check for underground utilities.
- If you're planting on a slope, level the planting area to keep all of the roots at the correct depth.
- Your tree will typically grow better in native soil than in bagged soil. Break up the soil you removed and save it for backfill.
- Never pick up a tree by the trunk — this can damage the tree. Lift by the root ball or container.
- Before planting, cut through the side of the root ball at four equidistant spots, then cut an X at the bottom. This will prevent roots from circling around and eventually girdling the tree.
- A tree can develop rot and insect problems if you plant too deeply. Make sure the root flare—a slight tapering at the base—still shows after planting.
- When mulching, think “doughnut,” not “volcano.” The former ensures that mulch is not piled up against the bark, where it can cause moisture and insect problems. It also directs water toward the roots, rather than away from them.
- Observe water-use ordinances or restrictions for your area.
- You may consider creating a decorative border around the tree.
Determining where to plant a tree is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Many factors should be considered prior to planting. When planning what type of tree to plant, remember to look up and look down to determine where the tree will be located in relation to overhead and underground utility lines.
Overhead utility lines are easy to spot, yet often overlooked. Planting tall-growing trees under or near these lines eventually requires your utility provider to prune them to maintain safe clearance from the wires. This pruning may result in the tree having an unnatural appearance. Periodic pruning can also lead to a shortened life span for the tree.
Tall-growing trees near overhead lines can cause service interruptions when trees contact wires. Children or adults climbing in these trees can be severely injured or even killed if they come in contact with the wires. Proper selection and placement of trees in and around overhead utilities can eliminate potential public safety hazards, reduce expenses for utilities and their customers, and improve landscape appearance.
The greatest danger to underground lines occurs during planting. Before you plant, make sure that you are aware of the location of any underground utilities. To be certain that you do not accidentally dig into any lines and risk serious injury or a costly service interruption, call your utility company or utility locator service first. Never assume that these utility lines are buried deeper than you plan to dig.
Trees add freshness and are a way to have nature expressed in your surroundings but as with any other thing you do to your home, planting a tree needs to be taken seriously, ideally with the advice of an expert making sure you protect your property and your family’s safety.
ENJOY LIFE RESPONSIBLY!