The Pitfalls of Poor Planting: Did You Accidentally Kill Your Tree?
February 10, 2016
Do you have a tree in decline? It could be the result of a bad planting job. Often when we inspect trees that are in decline or need to be removed, we discover the tree wasn’t planted correctly at the start.
The pitfalls of poor planting are many; and while the effects of a bad planting job may not be obvious for a number of years, it’s never desirable to loose a large tree. Planting your tree the right way the first time is your best chance for success.
First things first: Choose the right tree.
Where will you be planting the tree? In a sunny location or in the shade of other large trees or buildings? Under power lines or in a wide open space? Would you love some vibrant fall color or a blooming focal point in your landscape? Choosing the right tree for your given location will determine its long-term success or failure. Plant the wrong tree in the wrong place and you might as well go ahead and budget now for it’s future removal.
More on choosing the right tree for the right space here.
Examine the root ball
Planting a tree is more than just digging a hole and dropping the root ball in the ground. Removing any existing wires, rope, twine and burlap that were placed around the root ball is key to a healthy start for your tree. When a tree is planted with any of these elements still in place, they can constrict and suffocate the roots, causing a tree to go into decline.
Home and property owners often think the material around the root ball of a tree such as burlap or twine, will disintegrate over time. In reality, the tree roots will often try to grow out of the material, causing damage to the roots and strangling the tree. Girdling roots, that you can see in the photo below, often a result of burlap, twine or wire left on the root ball, can limit uptake of water, nutrients and oxygen into your tree.
One way we can try and manage the effects of a bad planting job is if we can catch the problem early enough. If we do, there are certain treatments we can employ to get your tree back on track. Surgically removing girdling roots and exposing your tree’s root flare are often necessary.
Unfortunately for the tree above, the poor planting job wasn’t caught in time. Large twine left on the root ball, around the base of the trunk, essentially strangled the tree. The entire tree toppled over.
It’s easy to miss the signs of a bad planting job. Having your trees inspected annually by a trained and professional certified arborist can help you avoid the situations above. Having larger trees planted by tree specialists is also advised.
Take care of your trees and they’ll take care of you!