tree care

How To Succeed With Seedling Trees

I have 75 tree saplings coming from the Arbor Day Foundation.   What’s the best way to ensure their survival?

HIT: saplings are the most economical way to add multiple trees to your landscape!

Saplings, arriving bare root – meaning not in a bucket with soil – are especially cost effective but, like a newborn as compared to a toddler, require more intensive care.  At shipping in the fall or winter, saplings are in a dormant state, their frail roots exposed and often flattened.  A few simple steps taken will give your new trees a better chance of survival.

  1. Soak the roots in a bucket of water for several hours to re-hydrate after unpacking, keeping them moist till planted.
  2.  Make sure the variety of tree you received fits the criteria for that area you’re planning to plant and if it does not, DO NOT PLANT IT THERE!  Calling a foundation repair company to undo the damage of a shade tree planted 8 foot from your home offsets any $$$ you saved in purchasing seedlings. (Look for TREE SELECTION in a later post of GardenDishes.)

    diagram courtesy Utah State Extension Service
  3. Dig the hole 3′ wide to soften the perimeter area, but dig just deep enough to bury to the root collar, or trunk “flare,” as seen on this diagram.  Return the original soil to the hole.  Adding enriched soil sounds like a great idea, but it can cause the roots to stay in the good stuff, circling around and around until the tree eventually strangles itself, called “girdling“.
  4. Build a low dam around the perimeter of the hole creating tree well to hold water.
  5. Water well and mulch with shredded bark.  Go back periodically to make sure the soil/mulch are not washed away from the roots, but also do not cover the tree’s trunk, which can cause fungal infection.  And don’t forget to water your tree often during the 1st couple of years since it will take that long for it to develop sufficient feeder roots.

    MYTH: a large containered tree grows faster than a small one

For a detailed video of these steps, go to The Arbor Day Foundation’s site.

Feature image courtesy Gunther Home Inspections


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