It’s Tree Planting Time

March 17, 2019

by Cathy Hardin, Escambia County Forester

Planting a tree in your yard can be beneficial for years to come. Some of the benefits include reducing utility costs, landscape eautification, habitat for songbirds and other wildlife. If you are planting a tree, here are some tips to remember.

First, put the right tree in the right place. Consider the size the tree will become both above ground and below. Look up for potential interference with overhead wires and look down for driveways, sidewalks, and pipes that may interfere with root growth. Consider species suitable to the soil and planting zone where you live. Native species tend to be hardier and are easier to take care of.

Plant the tree at the proper depth. Do not make the hole deeper than the root ball of the tree. Look for where the roots spread from the base of the tree (trunk flare). Place the tree in the hole so that the trunk flare is slightly above the original ground level. This will allow for some settling.

Keep it simple. Soil amendments and fertilizers should not be added at the time of planting. Native trees are especially suited to their environment. Also, staking small trees is not usually necessary. If you have a large tree, simply staking the root ball in place will likely be more effective than tying the trunk off and will not require removal later.

Properly mulch. Put a couple of inches of mulch over the planting area. Do not let it touch the base of the tree and especially do not pile it deep on the trunk (volcano mulching), because moist bark can lead to wood decay. Good choices include pine straw, leaf litter and bark chips.

Finally, water the new tree weekly until it is established. Remember, springtime in Florida is the driest time of the year, and young trees often die from lack of water. The rule of thumb is 3 gallons per inch of tree diameter applied slowly at the root ball.

For more tree planting information, contact your Florida Forest Service County Forester or visit the Arbor Day Foundation.

Pictured top: Escambia County Forester Cathy Hardin demonstrates tree planting during an Arbor day event last month in Century. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.

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