| B. Rosie Lerner
Celebrate Arbor Day, April 29
There's no better way to celebrate Arbor Day than to add beauty and value
to your home landscape with a new tree. Trees can also provide shade and
wind protection for many years to come, if given the proper start. The
last Friday in April is both the national and the Indiana Arbor Day, so
you have some time to plan.
The first step should be thoughtful selection of an appropriate plant
to match the location. Assess your planting location for such factors
as light, moisture availability, drainage, amount of space and exposure
to wind. Then search for plant species that are best adapted to these
conditions. Keep in mind such characteristics as winter hardiness, heat
tolerance, plant size at maturity, growth rate, cultural requirements
and plant hardiness. Once you have narrowed down a list of desirable plants
that are adapted to your location, check local nurseries and garden centers
for availability and prices.
Trees can be purchased either as bare-root, containerized or balled and
burlapped (B&B). Bare-root stock should be planted while dormant,
before leaves break bud. Containerized and B&B stock can be planted
any time the soil can be worked, but keep in mind that waiting until hot
summer days arrive will put additional stress on young trees.
Prepare the soil where the tree is to be planted well ahead of time,
so that the trees roots will not be endangered of drying out before you
get them in the ground. If planting must be delayed, be sure to supply
moisture to the roots. Dig an area that is larger than the root system.
The hole should be at least a foot wider than the root spread or soil
ball, and the sides of the hole should be vertical, not sloping. Plant
the tree at the same depth it was grown in the nursery. If the hole is
too deep, replace some the soil at the bottom, but be sure to firm the
soil to prevent the tree from slipping down later.
Refill the planting hole with the same soil you took out of the hole.
Do not amend the backfill with organic materials, such as mulch or peat
moss, as it only makes root establishment more difficult once they grow
beyond the amended soil, particularly in clay soils. Do not mix dry fertilizer
or manure with soil, as young developing roots will be easily burned.
Firm the soil around the roots with your hands, and continue to add soil
until it is three-fourths full. Then fill the hole with water to settle
the soil around the roots. Straighten the plant, if necessary, and finish
filling the hole with soil. For ease in watering the new tree, construct
a basin by forming a 2-3 inch high rim of soil around the edge of the
planting hole. Then water the tree with several gallons of water. A soluble
fertilizer may be applied with the water to get the roots off to a good
start. Use about 1-2 tablespoons of 20-20-20 or similar analysis fertilizer
per gallon of water. No additional fertilizer will be needed the first
year. Applying a 2-3 inch layer of mulch, such as shredded or chipped
bark, will help conserve soil moisture and keep weeds to a minimum.
When planting B&B stock, make sure you cut the twine or wire that
binds the burlap to the trunk. If left in place, these materials will
cut through the trunk as it expands in diameter, cutting the transport
of carbohydrates from leaves to roots. The damage may take several years
to show up, but, by then, it will be too late to rescue the tree.
Purdue Extension has several publications that can help you select an
appropriate species, as well as how to prepare the planting site. Look
online at http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs.html
(scroll down through the Landscape Plant and Management section), or contact
the Purdue Extension office in your county.