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Tree Planting Guide

Tree Planting Guide

Practical guidelines to ensure success when planting new trees on your residential or commercial property in Toronto.

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Things to Consider Before Planting a Tree

The value that trees bring to a property, and our world in general, is truly immeasurable. Planting new trees provides an opportunity to reap many, many benefits for now and the future, and those benefits can easily be compromised if special care is not taken when deciding the when, where, and how a tree is planted.

There are some important things to consider before getting started on your property “greening” project. First, you need to measure your space and find a suitable spot. Different trees require different soil conditions for optimal growth and health, so the soil type and growing conditions need to be established prior to deciding on a tree species. Choosing the right spot for the perfect type of tree will not only result in a more beautiful, valuable property it will also prevent possible damage and expensive maintenance costs in the future. You need to consider utilities lines, driveways, and other infrastructure when deciding on a tree and planting spot.

If you are still unsure of what kind of tree to plant or where it should go, contact Local Arborist. We have lots of experience planting and caring for trees.

Things to Consider Before Planting a Tree
Best Time to Plant a Tree
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Best Time to Plant a Tree

The ideal time to plant a new tree in Toronto is usually early spring or fall. In spring, before the leaves are established and growth is still dormant, there is less risk of stressing the tree out. Additionally, the risk of the roots freezing or drying out from harsh weather is greatly reduced. The mild conditions in spring also mean less frequent watering and maintenance are required. Early fall is also a popular and effective time to plant trees, especially evergreens. The cooler weather is preferable for planting. While many people successfully plant trees in the fall, the risk of frost can be higher. An unexpected frost can impede root establishment and potentially kill your tree before it even has a chance to grow. It is a good idea to check the forecast before breaking ground on your tree planting project.

For more specific information on the best planting times, you should research specific species and consult a professional, such as Local Arborist.

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The Tree Planting Process

Protect Tree During Transport

Ensure that the branches, trunk, and roots are properly protected before transporting. It is also important to keep the roots moist and cool to reduce the stress the tree experiences.

Prepare Ground for Planting

The general rule of thumb for tree planting is to dig a hole that is, at minimum, 2-3 times as wide as the root ball or container that the tree is in. The depth of the hole need not been any greater than the root ball, so that when planted the root collar (that is where the trunk and roots join) is level with the ground. Additionally, the edges of the hole should not be left smooth. Try to roughen up the edges to allow for ease of root establishment.

Ready the Roots

Trees generally come ready for planting in 3 ways – in a container, with a burlap wrapped root ball, or bare roots. Containers and burlap all need to be removed prior to planting. Any roots that are matted when burlap is removed should be clipped before placing in the hole for planting. Bare roots should be loosened right before placement, taking extra care to not expose to light or heat for any measurable amount of time.

Place and Cover

As mentioned, the root crown should be level with the ground. Gently replace good, clean soil around the root ball and lightly pack to about 2/3rds full. Next, give the tree a good water to help with soil settlement and drainage. Finally, fill the hole the rest of the way with soil and, if possible, add mulch to the soil surface.

Important Tree Care Tips - Next Steps
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Important Tree Care Tips — Next Steps

Once your tree is in the ground, there are some additional steps that can be taken to improve the chances of a well-established root system and, in turn, a healthy, sturdy tree for the future. The most important thing to remember is to water, water, and water again. Soil should be kept moist to avoid drying out the roots and to ensure proper flow of nutrients throughout the entire tree. Adding mulch to your tree is a great way to improve soil moisture retention and improve insulation for the roots. Mulch also has the added benefit weed control, eliminating competition for water and nutrients in the soil.

Additionally, you should avoid corrective pruning until a tree is well established. Damaged or diseased branches can be removed, taking care to avoid removing any healthy growth.

For more help with tree planting and tree care services, contact Local Arborist. Our team of arborists are tree experts – we have a wealth of knowledge regarding tree planting and encouraging healthy, strong growth. With Local Arborist, you can rest assured that your tree planting experience will be a success.

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How often do I need to water newly planted trees?

It is important to ensure that a tree has sufficient water, especially during the first few formative years of growth. You should be watering around twice per week (unless there is sufficient precipitation in your region) to maintain slightly damp soil around the tree all the time. You will know if you are watering too much if water begins to pool around the tree.

My tree looks droopy after transplanting – why?

Transplanting is an intense process for a tree, and many trees go through what is called “transplant shock”. The best way to avoid overstressing is to transplant during dormant growth seasons, ensure you pick the appropriate location (soil type, drainage, spacing) and to maintain a regular watering schedule. Don’t panic – it can take over a year for a tree to fully adjust to its new location and recover from transplant shock.

Do I have to brace and stake my newly planted tree?

Unless you are transplanting a bare-root tree in a particularly windy region or on a significant slope, bracing and staking are generally not necessary. It is important for trees to develop a strong resiliency to the elements and bracing and staking can impede the process. If you do brace and stake, these supports should be moved after one year. When left too long, the tree can begin to grow into them and cause irreparable damage.

When should I start pruning a transplanted tree?

The first 5 to 10 years of a tree’s growth is essential to the establishment of a strong root system that will support the health of the tree over its entire lifespan. Pruning should only be done to branches that are showing signs of disease or damage to promote healthy, robust growth.

When is the best time to plant a new tree?

The best time for planting new trees depends on a variety of factors, including the type of tree, the soil type where the tree will be planted, as well as the general climate of the area. Generally, tree planting should be done in the early spring (April through June) or early fall (September through October). Local Arborist will work with you to choose appropriate trees for your property and plan for the best time to plant to guarantee success.

When is the best time to transplant a mature tree?

Large trees that require a tree spade to move can usually be successfully transplanted from spring all the way throughout summer, so long as care is taken to ensure the trees receive adequate watering. As with any tree care service, there are a variety of factors that should be considered when planning to transplant a tree – from soil conditions all the way to available space. Local Arborist has extensive experience providing successful tree transplanting services.

Should I plant native trees? How do I know what trees are native to my area?

Native trees are more likely to thrive than exotic species, as they easily adapt with the local climate and have a natural resistance to a wide variety of native pests and pathogens. Native tree species also provide habitat to native animal species. Finding trees that naturally grow in Southern Ontario is as simple as a search engine inquiry. However, Local Arborist can recommend the perfect trees to add to your property based on your unique location and needs.

How often should I water a newly planted tree?

Ensuring that newly planted trees receive the proper amount of water is essential for healthy, steady growth. Newly planted trees should be watered about once per week, depending on the precipitation levels in your area. In general, the soil should be kept moist (but not soaking wet) for at least the first year of growth.

Where should I plant a tree?

This is an important question to ask! The simple answer is that a tree should be planted where it will have adequate space to grow as well as sufficient water and nutrients. There are other factors to take into consideration as well. Do you want your tree to offer shade for afternoon gatherings in your back yard? Do you want to enhance privacy for your property? Do you have any underground or overhead utilities that could be affected by tree placement? Local Arborist will help answer all these questions (and more) to ensure successful tree planting and transplanting.

Do you have a problem tree on your property that need to be addressed?

Contact Local Arborist today for a complimentary estimate on all your Tree Maintenance needs!

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