Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Tree We Planted Twice

It may seem as though all we do around here is cut trees for one reason or another.  Either they're in the way, or dying due to changes in the land or traffic over their roots.  Or they may just be too scraggly or a messy variety (like Larch... yuck).  When you cut a lawn into a grown up area you are bound to have that.  In the west lawn we have taken out over a dozen scraggly, top heavy ash and poplar.  And that was before the Tree and Water Project 2012 commenced.


As compensation, we try to plant varieties we like in a suitable place as replacements.  Tim was looking forward to planting London Plane trees.  They are a variety of sycamore which have a flakey, varigated bark and a leaf shaped like a maple.

When the new nursery stock arrived at our friend Sandy's nursery, we purchased three, took them home and planted them right away.  One leafed out in a few days.  The rest did this...

When a tree sends new shoots out from the trunk it is making a last ditch effort at survival.  After a month of wait-and-see we agreed that they were dying and needed to be replaced.  Sandy set out to find us a new set of three, and boy did she come through!

Now THIS is what we had in mind!  Tim felt bad that perhaps he had somehow killed these trees.  But we have planted over a dozen trees together and all are thriving.  It was not his planting skills, it was just bad luck.  This is our method:

First I cut and strip the sod in the circle where we will be mulching.  Rings of mulch make it easier to mow around the trees and eliminates potential damage from weedwhacking.  The original ring was about 24" across.  I widened each hole to 60".

The soil in this yard is hard, clay, full of stones and roots from the woods that we have removed tree by tree.  Tim uses the back hoe to loosen the soil.

Then we dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball.

You want the soil at the base of the tree, the level the pot was at, to be about 4" higher than your surrounding lawn for drainage purposes.  Tim lays a long handle across and measures up, comparing this measurement to the height of the pot.

Then we remove the root ball from its container, place it in hole, center and plumb, and begin adding good soil around it.  Depending on what we have to work with we may add some cooled compost.  Tim stomps the dirt firmly in.

When the hole is half full he waters it in well.  You want to remove all airpockets from around the roots.  The water and the stomping fills the voids.  If you wait until the hole is full of dirt before you water it takes more water to reach the roots.

We continue filling in with good soil, and construct what looks like a volcanoe.  The rim of soil will collect water and channel it towards the roots while the tree is becoming established.  Over time it will erode away to a simple mound.  We fill in with mulch, adding only about an inch around the trunk itself.  The roots need to be able to get oxygen and material around the bark will burn and girdle the trunk.

Then we drive one T-Post on the side of the prevailing wind, and another one directly opposing it.  Using scraps of garden hose to cushion the wire and protect the bark, Tim interlocks the wires like so and wires the tree to keep it perfectly upright.

When we are done, we have three beautiful trees landscaped in.

Of the three original trees, two had no root growth at all and were discarded, but the third was sending out fresh white rootlets.  We relocated it in a raised area between our fence and Mike and Shelly's fence which divides the two mowing areas.  We will keep the newly planted trees watered every day or two with about 5 gallons of water each.

The new trees came in these sturdy 20 gallon pots.  The nursery offered to take them back and reuse them to transplant trees in the fall.  Ummmm.... No.  These are my pots, and they already have potatoes planted in them!

1 comment:

  1. =)

    You are a gardening and landscaping encyclopedia.