Got the Itch? Try This…

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Jim planting tree

For gardeners who have spring fever and have the itch to plant something even though it’s only the very beginning of April, try planting trees and shrubs.  If the ground has thawed enough to dig, trees and shrubs can be safely planted even though the ground is cold.

I just wrote an article for the Northfield Entertainment Guide on successful tree planting and am publishing it here as well.

Successful Tree Planting Tips

Planting trees in our landscapes is a long term investment of effort, dollars, and time.  Taking steps to increase the chances of having a healthy, beautiful and long lived tree makes a lot of good sense, both economically and to beautify the landscape.  Here follows some suggestions for success:

  1. Pick trees that have demonstrated good winter hardiness for southern Minnesota. If the variety you are considering has a zone rating of 4, 3, or 2, it will probably do well here.  Zone 5 rated trees are borderline hardy.  They may do well for a period of years, but there is a risk that they could die during a hard winter.
  2. Choose trees that have excellent root structure. Trees that have poor root structure due to circling, matted roots that are root bound are likely to fail after a few years in the landscape.  Trees produced in special air root pruning pots form almost perfect root systems.
  3. Use proper planting techniques. Do not plant too deep. Dig the hole wider, not deeper, and very aggressively cut any roots that are observed to be matted or circling.  Trees that are planted too deep more easily develop stem girdling, circling roots that would later strangle the tree.
  4. Water just enough, but not too much. More frequent and modest amounts of water prevent super saturation of the soil which can encourage root rot.  Over watering is a common cause of failure of newly planted trees.
  5. Eliminate soil compaction in the planting area over as wide an area as possible by digging the soil, and breaking up clumps. Trees will root out faster if the surrounding soil is loose and free of compaction.
  6. Pick a planting site with good soil drainage. Not very many varieties of trees do well in chronically water logged soil.
  7. Pick a planting location with the amount of sunlight preferred by the variety you have chosen. Too much shade often causes a tree to grow poorly and often the tree gets lopsided as it seeks sunlight.
  8. If you already have picked the location for a tree, choose a tree that is a good match for the site conditions. Consider soil type and fertility, soil pH, exposure to winter winds and damaging winter sunlight, the amount of sunlight available during the growing season, soil drainage, and the soil compaction.  Not all trees will do well on every site.

If you are unsure about HOW to plant, stop by our Garden Center and we will  answer any questions, provide you with a copy of our Planting Guide which we have created to help you follow the best practices to ensure great results.  It’s easy to follow and has clear diagrams.

We now have most of our shrubs and trees available for sale and ready to plant.  For perennials, we suggest you wait a few weeks to get past most of the danger of spring frosts!