Ciscoe Morris shows us how to plant trees and shrubs, as this is a good time of year to do it.
Fall is a great time to plant a tree in your garden, but before you even buy it there's a few things to consider.
- Pick the right tree for the location you want to plant it in.
- Make sure the tree you pick won't grow to large for the spot your putting it, and don't plant it too close to the house.
- Choose a tree that is well adapted to the soil conditions in your garden. If you have clay soil you'll either have to grow a tree that can handle growing in heavy soil such as a red maple, a sweetgum. or a dawn redwood, or you'll need to bring in topsoil and plant on top of a berm of good soil. As long as you can raise the soil enough to keep 2/3rds of the tree's roots above the clay soil when you plant it, you can grow almost any tree you desire in your garden. Make sure the tree you buy can handle the amount of sunshine in the location you are planning to plant it in as well.
- Choose a healthy attractive tree. Take a good hard look at the tree before you buy it at the nursery. Don't buy it if it has lots of dieback, spots on the leaves, or a horrible looking branching structure.
- Don't plant too deep - when you plant the tree, dig a whole 2 times wider, but now deeper than the rootball. It's absolutely critical to plant the tree so that the roots begin just below the soil surface. If you plant the tree even a half-inch deeper it could harm or even kill the tree. Firm the bottom of the hole to keep the tree from sinking in the hole. Digging a wide hole will get the roots off to a good start by allowing them to move into the softened soil. Don't add compost to the planting hole. Studies have proven that trees do better planted in native soil.
- Add organic fertilizer. Toss a handful of organic starter fertilizer in the hole. It won't burn the roots, but will provide nutrients to help with root growth.
- Do a bit of formative pruning. Don’t make the mistake of cutting back all of the side branches on the tree to give it a round canopy. Heading cuts of this kind encourage major sprout growth, and you’ll spend an incredible amount of time removing unsightly twigs that will grow non-stop from the end of the branches for years to come. Establish a sturdy, attractive branching structure and fix any minor problems that could cause trouble down the road. Remove the three D’s: dead, diseased or damaged branches that could end up with disease problems if left on the tree. Next remove any branches that are growing into the center of the tree, or any smaller branch that is crossing over a bigger one to keep possible rubbing from creating wounds in the bark. Where two similarly sized branches are growing vertically, straight up from the same crotch in the tree, remove the weaker branch by cutting it back to its point of attachment in the tree. If left in place, as the tree matures, co-dominant branches develop weak attachment and at sometime in the future one or both of the limbs are highly likely to break off in an ice or wind storms, ruining the health and appearance of the tree. The last and most important step when pruning a newly planted tree is to obey the law of haircuts and eating hot fun Sundays. Know when to stop!
For more gardening tips watch Gardening with Ciscoe every Saturday morning on KING5. You can also visit Ciscoe.com.