Pro-Tips

How to Plant a Tree

Prepare the planting hole at least twice the diameter of the root ball and no deeper than the height of the root ball. When placed into the hole, the root ball should sit on solid, undisturbed soil.

Inspect the root ball for any “root-bound symptoms” and prune. Also, “open up by hand” any gnarled roots to aid root growth into the surrounding soil. The top of the root ball should sit level with, or slightly above, the surrounding soil. It is critical to not plant the tree too deep.

Thoroughly pulverize the soil from the hole and use this soil – without any additions – to backfill around the tree. Add soil around the tree until the hole is about half full, then firm the soil to eliminate air pockets, but do not pack it tight. Finish filling the hole, firm again and then water the tree thoroughly to settle it in. Generally, there is no need to fertilize a newly planted tree.

If the tree is tall enough to be unstable it should be staked, otherwise it’s not necessary. Leave the support in place for no longer than 9 to 12 months.

Keep the area two feet out from the trunk mulched and free from weeds and grass. Mulch should be about two inches deep and pulled back slightly from the base of the tree.

Water a newly planted or transplanted tree whenever the weather is dry. This is the single most important thing you can do to insure its survival. Proper irrigation the first 2-3 years should not be overlooked.

Proper Mulch Tips

One of the best management practices to improve or maintain optimum plant performance in a landscape is use of mulch. With mulches properly applied, many soil and plant related benefits can be realized. Add new mulch to landscape beds once or twice a year. Mulches are useful in the landscape to improve the appearance of bed areas, to modify the soil environment and to enhance plant growth. Organic and inorganic mulches can be used.

Excellent organic mulches are pine bark, leaves, cypress mulch, grass clippings, compost and pine straw. Apply mulch one or twice annually. Be careful not to pile mulch around the base of the plant. This creates excessive water accumulation around the plant base and can cause root and stem rot problems. Mulch trees to a depth of 3 inches, shrubs to a depth of 2 inches and bedding plants/herbaceous perennials to a depth of 1 inch.

Mulches also reduce soil moisture loss during dry periods, reduce soil temperature fluctuations, improves soil physical properties, suppresses weed growth and reduces soil erosion potential.

LSU Ag Center

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