There's more to plant­ing a tree than just dirt

The Weekly Vista - - News - KEITH BRYANT kbryant@nwadg.com

Patti Er­win with the Arkansas Forestry Com­mis­sion ex­plained that there’s more to plant­ing a tree than just stick­ing it in the dirt.

To start, she said, a tree planter should scrape grass off the sur­face be­fore digging, which pre­vents grass from mix­ing in with the soil. It’s im­por­tant, she said, not to dig too deep — the trunk of the tree should not be cov­ered.

To loosen the tree from the plas­tic pot, Er­win turned it on its side and tapped the sides a few times. Once the tree is out, she said, it’s best to gen­tly pull apart the root mass, which curls up to fit in a con­fined space. If this isn’t done, she said, the tree may con­tinue to grow as though its roots are con­fined and the tree could die.

A tree planter should spread the roots, she said, af­ter plac­ing the plant in the hole, then add soil and pour a small amount of wa­ter on it. The wa­ter, she said, will help to keep the roots from dry­ing out and soften the soil so it can gen­tly fill in air pock­ets, but step­ping on the soil can break roots.

“There weren’t a lot of roots, so you want to keep them,” she said.

It’s best, she said, to use soil that is al­ready in place, she said, so the tree can more eas­ily adapt to its new habi­tat, though if it is ex­ces­sively rocky it can help to mix some pot­ting soil with it. It’s also best to avoid us­ing fer­til­izer for the first cou­ple years a tree is in place, she said.

Mulch, she said, should be piled two to three inches high and not cover the trunk. Shred­ded mulch works well, she said, be­cause it stays in place. Cedar works well, she said, be­cause it helps keep bugs away.

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