Planting a Tree: Make the Soil Ready for the Tree
Pro Arbor's crews remove trees every day in Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington, Prince William, and Fauquier counties. Many of the removals involve grinding out a stump and leaving the area prepared for planting a replacement tree. Usually, the new planting is performed either by the nursery where the new tree is purchased or by the property owner. Planting a tree is a very rewarding experience if the tree thrives; it is frustrating, embarassing, and costly if it does not.
If there has been stump grinding on the site of your new tree installment, then the debris left behind from the grinding should be removed from the planting pit. Although it may appear to be rich, fluffy, and ready to support your new tree, this debris is full of green wood tissue that will compost for quite a while. It will make good mulch for other trees if spread loosely about, but if it is left to decompose in the soil surrounding your transplanted tree it will create an anaerobic condition that will harm and possibly kill your tree.
Once you have removed all of the grinding debris, you may have little or no digging to do to fit your new tree into the space. The pit that you place the tree in should be three times the size of the root ball of your tree. The depth should be such that the root collar of the tree is at or slightly (an inch or so) above grade. Place the root ball in the pit, plumb the stem, remove all binding material, and gently backfill around the root ball. Pro Arbor recommends placing rootwells at the perimeter of the pit.
The care that you provide in the first season of your new tree's life will have a profound effect on its health and beauty. Fortifying the soil with a compost tea will introduce beneficial miccorhizal microbes that will promote robust root growth. The addition of rootwells will give needed oxygen to the root zone as well as a good way to irrigate deeply. A properly installed mulch ring will provide a buffer from the harsh Virginia temperatures and further nourish the soil.
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