"The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now."
Tips on planting a tree.
Your Questions Answered About How to Properly Plant a Tree
Trees for Woolwich encourages all residents to plant trees on their property. The environmental benefits of more tree coverage are immense. Wildlife habitat, beautification, cooling, mitigating climate change are just a few examples. Trees for Woolwich want to ensure those trees will have a full and fruitful life so be mindful of some of our tips below.
When is the best time to plant a tree?
If a tree has been grown in a container, any time the ground isn’t frozen, or soaking is a good time. The easiest time on the tree is when it is dormant in early spring, or fall. The most challenging condition for success is very hot, dry weather.
Some species are very unhappy about root disturbance, and larger specimens are best planted dormant, early in spring. Serviceberry, Native Pagoda Dogwood, Beech and Redbud are some examples of species that need extra care.
Whenever you plant, ensure that you will be able to care for your newly planted trees continuously for the whole season. If you are leaving on summer holidays you will need a ‘tree sitter’ to water your tree(s), or you should probably wait until fall.
How deep should I plant my tree?
Under normal soil conditions, you should plant your tree at the same depth that it was planted in its pot. If it is bare root, look for a colour change that shows the change from trunk to root system. If you plant you tree too high, and roots become exposed it will probably die. If you sink it in too low, it can suffocate and fail to thrive and grow, or die.
On heavy clay soil for trees that do not tolerate wet, such as Sugar Maples and fruit trees, it is best to raise the entire planting area up. You do not want to chip a hole into heavy clay where water will pool, and drown the tree
Is it necessary to stake my tree?
You may need to stake, or guy your tree depending on the exposure of your site, and the size and leafiness of the crown. If you have a sheltered back yard in town, and a potted tree, you will probably not need to stake it.
If you are planting in a location exposed to the West wind, it would be a good idea to stake. Try to use a method that keeps the tree from blowing over, but allows for some trunk movement to build strength. Be sure to loosen the ties after the first year, and remove them fully by the 2nd year.
How often should I water my tree?
The most important thing is to water your tree as it starts to dry out. A deep soaking to the bottom of the roots once a week is much better for strong root development than frequent sprinkles. Use a moisture meter if you are not sure when the tree is dry. Both over-watering and under-watering can harm your tree. When it is first planted, and in hot, dry weather, it needs the most water.
How soon should I prune my newly planted tree?
You do not always need to prune your tree. If the tree had roots that were fully contained in a pot, it should not require pruning. If it was “bare root”, or the roots had grown out of the pot, and were then cut off or dried out, you should trim your tree back by 10 to 20% all round at planting time.
Future pruning is best done on dormant trees in March to remove branches that interfere with one another, broken or diseased parts, or to shape the tree as desired. A common reason to prune is to lift up the canopy (remove lower branches) so that you can mow without hitting your head!
How do I prepare my newly planted trees for winter?
Use bonemeal in the planting hole at planting time, to help the tree develop new roots before the ground freezes. Roots can grow even after the leaves fall. Keep your tree watered consistently until the soil freezes hard (don’t stop just because the leaves have fallen).
Is it necessary to fertilize my tree?
Use fertilizer with lots of phosphorus to promote root growth. Either an in-organic phosphate-based product, or bonemeal are recommened. Every fertilizer is labeled with three numbers:
Nitrogen – Phosphorus – Potassium
Typical Bonemeal is: 4 – 10 - 0
Synthetic Transplanter could be: 10 -52 - 10
Use high Nitrogen fertilizer only if you can water abundantly, and want your tree to grow fast. Remember that soft, fast growth makes tasty salad for insects.
Is bonemeal a good fertilizer for all tree and shrub plantings?
See the previous question… Bonemeal is good for providing the Phosphorus that trees and shrubs need to grow strong roots. Bonemeal can break down fairly slowly in some soil conditions, so you may want to use a soluble transplanter fertilizer right at planting time. The bonemeal worked into the soil around the roots will become available slowly, but then lasts well.
How does one go about getting soil tested for pH?
You can pick up a pH test kit at most nurseries, or hardware stores that sell garden supplies. Generally soils around here are not acidic (alkaline). Some very light sandy soils may be more acidic. Most native trees and shrubs are widely tolerant of varied pH values. Drainage and light levels tend to be much more important factors determining the success of your tree planting.
Help create a green legacy for our children and our community.