Eight Common Tree-Planting Mistakes To Avoid

Posted on: 10 May 2016

There are few better ways to improve a landscape than by installing new trees. Trees help to reduce energy costs, slow the rate of erosion and provide food for wildlife. However, improper planting procedures can doom your trees at the outset. Eventually, such trees will die and require removal so that you can begin the process anew.

You can sidestep most of these problems and enjoy thriving, beautiful trees by avoiding these common mistakes.

Selecting the Wrong Species for the Site

Each tree species in the world has evolved to live in a specific habitat, so you must select species that are capable of thriving in your geographic area. Additionally, you must select a species that will thrive in your preferred location on your property.

Planting at the Wrong Time of Year

In order to survive the transplantation process, young trees must be able to produce an adequate root system before temperatures become very high or very low. Accordingly, early spring or early fall are the best time to plant trees; those planted in the summer or winter are unlikely to survive the process.

Not Providing Sufficient Water

While mature trees often have root systems that penetrate deep enough into the soil to give them access to deep water reserves, newly transplanted trees have modest, shallow root systems. This means that newly planted trees need extra water for the first few months following planting.

Planting Too Deeply

Trees that are planted too deeply are at increased risk of developing trunk rot, which can cause them to break near ground level in high winds. To avoid this problem, be sure that the tree's root flare – the expanded portion of the trunk located near the roots – is completely above ground after the tree has been planted.

Adding Gravel to Improve Drainage

Many people add gravel to the bottom of a planting hole, thinking that this will improve the drainage characteristics of the soil. However, this actually slows the rate of water drainage and often leads to the demise of the tree. If the site has poor drainage, you must select a species that can tolerate damp soil.

Aggressively Pruning Prior to Planting

While it is sometimes necessary to prune damaged branches at planting time, you should leave as many branches and leaves on the new tree as possible when planting it. If further pruning is needed for structural or aesthetic reasons, do so at least one year after planting the tree.