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  • Writer's pictureRussell Fey

Common Tree Planting Mistakes You Should Avoid

Planting a tree

Designing a landscape is part of owning and caring for a home. Your landscape and trees add value to your property; they protect and beautify your home and bring years of enjoyment for your family.

Whether you are in the formative stage of creating a beautiful landscape, or you are looking to swap out dead and diseased foliage, you'll need a little bit of knowledge with regard to what types of trees to incorporate, when to plant, and how to manage your new saplings. Read on to see how you may avoid some common landscaping mistakes and create a breathtaking landscape concept that you can enjoy for years to come:

  1. Choose wisely. A successful planting must start with a healthy tree; low-quality trees and improper planting procedures will result in additional cost and maintenance to you. It is also important to choose the right planting location--trees that are too close to other foliage will not grow properly. Those that are overly exposed to the elements will sustain damage from wind, hail, and extreme temperatures that could leave them vulnerable to disease and deterioration. Do your research with regard to the types of trees that will flourish in your soil, and consult your neighborhood arborist for other ideas on how to best fill up your property.

  2. Watch the root system. For your tree to have what it needs for proper growth, its root system has to be healthy and intact prior to implantation. A good rule of thumb to follow when assessing a root ball is that for every inch of diameter that a trunk has grown, the root ball must extend 10-12 inches beyond that. Anything less than that standard will result in the tree suffering transplant shock, and you could lose it altogether. Look for a healthy root system, and you'll have a basis for ongoing, healthy growth.

  3. Avoid poor planting sites. If you have extremely rocky or sandy soil, you may want to fortify the area you are considering for planting, or find a new area of your yard in which to give your trees a fighting chance. Perform a simple pH test to assess your soil's acidity, and if possible, choose trees that are appropriate for growth in your unique growing environment. Sandy or rocky soil may require excess moisture; consider mulching around the base to trap excess water and keep your root system moist.

  4. Plant at the proper depth. As a root system spreads, it will grow both outward and down, spreading in all directions to anchor its height and keep it firmly grounded. A hole that is too shallow may result in certain parts of the root system becoming exposed to the elements, while a hole that is too deep may cover parts of the trunk that could help fortify it and keep it in place while growing. Know about your specific tree's needs, and make sure you are carving out a space for your tree designed for optimal growth.

  5. Consider staking. When a sapling is still young, it is particularly vulnerable to Mother Nature and all her fury. Although some research points to the practice of staking being detrimental, many arborists will tell you that the benefits far outweigh any potential complications. The purpose of staking is to anchor the root ball firmly, preventing new growth from separating and compromising its future health. Trees with high canopies or those growing in high wind areas are particularly vulnerable to damage; consider staking to prevent future complications.

  6. Provide adequate water and follow-up monitoring. A tree must be adequately watered in order for it to grow properly; one can't always depend on rain showers to get the job done. When first planted, a tree must be watered that day and again the next. Maintain a regular watering schedule every three days thereafter, moving out to every seven days during a dry spell or hot weather. It's important that you learn to find a happy medium between too little and too much; look for signs on your foliage such as brown and yellow spots to indicate whether your tree is adequately hydrated.

It is necessary to regularly monitor your tree's growth and health in the months to come, as young trees are particularly vulnerable to disease and pest infestation. You provide regular care and maintenance for your home; the same care philosophy should apply to your landscape and trees.

Need some help? Call Fey And Sons!

Fey and Sons, LLC, is a team of caring and committed professionals who know about trees. We provide all aspects of tree care---from landscape design, planting and pruning to tree removal and beyond, we will work with you to design the landscape of your dreams. Visit for a no-obligation consultation of your home and property, and get ready to create something beautiful!

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