The Right Tree for the Right Location

A new tree is a wonderful addition to any landscape project.

Beyond providing shelter, shade and food for birds and small animals, trees also benefit the environment by storing carbons, emitting oxygen and recycling moisture into the atmosphere.

If you are considering adding a new tree to your garden this summer, take time to follow a few important steps. The future health of your tree relies on the selection process as well as the care given before, during and after transplanting.

Start by selecting the right tree for the right location. Select a species whose biological needs match those of your location.

The shape, size at maturity and function in landscape should all be taken into consideration before you make your purchase. Think about what the tree will look like when it reaches maturity. How tall will it grow? What shape will it be? Be conscious of scale in your landscape.

Once you have selected the perfect tree, try to minimize stress on the plant during transportation. Protect the tree from bruising the bark, breaking branches and buds.

Before transplanting, keep the root ball quite moist. Keep your new tree in a well-shaded area and avoid direct sunlight. Avoid transplanting during hot, dry weather.

Before planting, prepare the planting hole by digging at least 50 centimetres wider than the size of the container, or root system. Remove all turf from the area, as grass will compete for nutrients. A large hole allows for better root growth and is especially important in compact soil areas.

Planting depth is equally as important. Often trees are planted too deep, requiring years for recovery.

Carefully set your tree in the planting hole with the root collar at ground level, or slightly above. When transplanting container trees, be mindful of the roots that often surround the pot. Loosen the roots with a spray of water and straighten these to avoid girdling root problems. The flare of the roots and height of the soil ball will determine the level to transplant.

Next, back-fill the soil one-half full before tamping gently to remove unworthy air pockets.

Check that your tree is standing straight, then finish filling with the remaining soil.

As trees require valuable oxygen for growth, it is important to use loose, aerated soil.

If your garden is like most Yukon loam, the soil will be sandy and very clay-like. If this is the case, remove all existing matter from the hole and replace with one third each of soil, peat moss and compost matter.

Finish your planting with a temporary berm, at the drip line, to hold water around the root system. Trees planted in high-wind locations will require additional stake support for the first year.

Complete your planting with a layer of protective mulch cover.

Water your tree twice per week during the first season and regularly in the first few years to follow. In general, trees require two inches of rainfall each week.

Planning for a new tree is a fun project the whole family will enjoy. By planting the right tree in the right location and learning proper care and maintenance, you will benefit from many years of future enjoyment.

Shari Morash is a gardening enthusiast and an accredited designer. She is the owner and founder of Northern Elegance. Contact her at [email protected]

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