ISA Certified Arborist Training Tree Instillation and Establishment
Many stresses and physiological disorders can be traced to poor planting practices
Plant the right tree in the right place
(consider the trees needs vs.the limitations of the site)
When to plant
If planted in the fall after leaf drop, roots may begin establishment before dormancy
Early spring before bud-break is also a good time to plant trees
Trees establish most quickly when soil temperatures are warm and moisture is adequate
Maintaining enough moisture is crucial to encourage roots to grow into the surrounding soil
Three types of planting stock
Balled and Burlapped (B&B)
Small and easy to transplant
No soil on the roots, very light
Roots must be kept moist
Planted during the dormant season
Only deciduous trees or small
conifers can be planted bare root
Planted on small mounds in planting hole to spread the roots
May require staking
Careful storage needed (32 º - 40 º F and moist)
Planting Bare Root
Bare-root trees should be planted on small compact mounds within the planting holes
Roots must be kept moist to minimize drying- limit their exposure to the air
May require staking
Are grown or placed in a container
Can be planted any time of year- if watered an maintained properly
Easy to store and handled
Wide variety of sizes avialiable
Good survival rates if grown and planted properly
Less transplant shock?
Watch for girdling roots
Watch for encircling roots which could girdle the tree.
Don’t buy this tree
Not all containerized trees are container grown, be sure an established root system exists within the pot before purchase .
Always remove the container before planting, unless it is in a biodegradable pot (and maybe then as well)
Circling roots should be separated and spread, if this is not possible, they should be cut in at least two places to prevent girdling
Balled and Burlapped – B&B
Easier transplanting of larger sizes
Widely available and easy to find
Heavy and hard to handle
Much of the root system is lost during digging
Digging B&B trees can result in the loss of as much as 95% of the root system
Burlap used to wrap the root ball supports the the root system and prevents drying by reducing roots contact with the air
If burlap is synthetic, or treated to prevent it from decomposing, it must be removed prior to planting
Burlap exposed to the air after planting can
promote ‘wicking’ of water away from the root ball
Transporting- Always cover trees on a trailer or in a truck bed to prevent wind burn. Be careful not to leave trees covered with a heavy dark tarp on a hot sunny day.
Moving- Never lift the tree by the trunk (unless bare root). Always carry by the container or root ball. Many tools exist to make this easier: Hay hooks, dollies, ball carts, slings, etc…
Planting a Tree
Dig the planting hole two to three times wider than the container or root ball
Same depth as the container or ball
Remove existing grass
Scratch sides of hole if glazed
Handle the tree by the container or root ball not the trunk.
Carefully cut and remove any twine wrapped around the trunk at the top of the root ball.
Remove all tags and labels
If possible, orient the tree to same direction it was planted in the nursery
Container grown trees should have encircling roots cut.
Never plant deeper then the tree is in the root
ball or container. Laying a board or pole across
the planting hole is a good way to check.
Find the proper planting depth is very important for establishment
Planting too deep is a common problem that can lead to tree stress or death
Soft fill should not be added to the bottom of the hole because the root ball will settle and be planted too deeply.
Gravel should not be added to bottom of hole as it can encourage a ‘perched water table’.
In heavy clay soils trees should be planted shallow (with 3”-5” of root ball exposed)
Tree planted shallow in heavy soil to prevent ‘drowning’
How roots grow in the planting hole Most root growth is shallow and horizontal
Backfill the hole with loose soil
Do not amend the soil – Use what came out of the hole
Saturate the hole with water
Add more soil if needed
Cover the planting area with 3 inches of mulch.
Do not pile mulch against the trunk!
Remove all ties and any stakes that came with the tree!
Staking & Guying
Staking may be needed to protect the tree from equipment and people.
Do not guy a tree if it is not needed.
Try to select trees that do not need guying.
Remove the guy wire as soon as not needed
Staking should be avoided if possible
Staking may help protect the tree from vandalism
Do not drive stake through the root ball
Allow for flexibility, it is important for the trees growth for it to be able to move some
Trees greater then 4” are often supported by guying
Sakes and guys should be removed after one growing season whenever possible
Water is the single most important need of newly planted trees.
Moist but not wet
Water about once a week = to one inch of rain.
When it rains enough, don’t water
Retards grass and weeds
Reduces soil temperature
Adds organic matter
Keeps your mower away from the tree!!!!
Not enough mulch
Too much mulch
The best case scenario
Other important points
Fertilization is often not recommended at the time of planting
Pruning immediately after planting should only be done to remove diseased, dying or damaged limbs
Trunk wrap is generally not recommended and if used should be removed after one year
Tree guards maybe useful but need to be lose fitting and allow for air circulation
A rule of thumb for re-establishment after transplanting is one year for each inch of caliper (it sometimes possible for smaller trees to recover more quickly then larger ones)
In general the best time to transplant is in the early spring or late fall when the tree is dormant
Sometimes very large trees are dug in the winter when the ground is frozen, this does less damage to the root ball and surrounding area
Root pruning can greatly increase the amount of absorbing roots in the ball when it is dug (digging around in a radius smaller then root ball will produce new root growth within the ball for future harvest)
1 st cuts made with sharp axe- clean cuts, avoid tearing or breaking roots
If dug with machinery, dig the ball several inches larger then needed so final cuts can be made by hand
Ball should taper, wider at the top then the base
Burlap is held together by nails and large balls are ‘drum laced’ with rope to hold them together
Mechanical tree digger that comes in various sizes
If a spade is used to dig the planting hole, the whole should be widened and roughened to prevent glazing and encourage new root growth
Digging and planting trees on a slope can be a problem with a tree spade
After trees are dug from the field they are
sometimes Hardened off in a protected
Measure 12” above the root flare (hopefully ground level) to determine diameter
10” of ball for each 1” of trunk a rule of thumb (for MINIMUM ball size)