Early spring is an ideal time to plant trees and shrubs. Here are four simple steps to help you reduce the stress placed on the plant at the time of planting.

  1. Dig a shallow, broad planting hole. Make the hole wide, as much as three times the diameter of the root ball. It is important to make the hole wide because the roots on the newly establishing tree must push through the surrounding soil in order to sustain.
  2. Remove tree container for containerized trees. Carefully cutting down the sides of the container may make this easier. Inspect the root ball for circling roots and cut or remove them. Expose the trunk flare, if necessary.
  3. Mulch the base of the tree. Mulch is simply organic matter applied to the area at the base of the tree. It acts as a blanket to hold moisture, it moderates soil temperature extremes, and it reduces competition from grass and weeds. Some good choices are leaf litter, pine straw, shredded bark, peat moss, or composted wood chips. When placing mulch, be sure that the actual trunk of the tree is not covered.
  4. Provide follow-up care. Keep the soil moist but not soaked; overwatering causes leaves to turn yellow or fall off. When the soil is dry below the surface of the mulch, it is time to water. Be sure to prune branches damaged during the planting process!

Source: International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)

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