There are several factors to consider when adding a new tree or shrub to the landscape. Most important are the selection of the plant, where it will be planted, and the process of planting the new addition. Trees and shrubs planted incorrectly will show signs of slow growth, poor color and decline, or may grow too large for the location chosen.

Selection

Cost is often a determining factor when choosing a tree or shrub. Usually the less expensive plants will have an underdeveloped root structure that is unable to support the plant. The root structure may also be overgrown from being in a container too long. It may have broken branches or damaged bark. Generally trees and shrubs of poorer quality will be slow to establish and will exhibit signs of reduced vigor, die-back, and poor growth. Ensure the plant is suited for the climate. Check with a local nursery if you are unsure. Try to imagine what the plant will look like in 15 to 20 years; this will aid in your selection and choice of location. Try not to choose a tree or shrub that will outgrow the location. By doing so you will cut down on the need for excessive pruning later on.

Choosing Your Location

Characteristics of a location will also contribute to transplant problems. Most all trees and shrubs need soil that is moist, but offers good drainage. Many areas within an urban environment offer poor drainage. Also, the soil pH level may be unsuitable for the tree or shrub you have selected. Do keep in mind most trees and shrubs require a specific sun and shade schedule. A poorly chosen site will affect a tree or shrub in many ways. Poor growth, and or poor color will occur. Generally speaking, trees and shrubs in poor locations will not respond favorably to a regular fertilizer program or proper cultural practices.

How to Plant

Incorrect planting dramatically increases the chance of your new tree or shrub failing. Planting too deep suffocates the root system through oxygen deprivation. Planting too shallow can cause exposure of the root structure. This will cause the root system to dry out and kill the plant.

Watering improperly can be another serious problem. By watering too much you run the risk of root decay or the potential to drown the root system, and by watering too little the plant becomes stressed and could eventually die. Water deeply and infrequently. This will encourage the new plant to develop deep roots that will aid in stability. Water slowly, as this will enable more moisture to be taken in by the plant. Watering quickly causes run-off and is just wasting time and money.

Leaving wire, string, rope or burlap on the plant can encourage girdling which can eventually kill the plant. Improper staking can cause the plant to be blown over in severe weather. Leaving the staking material on too long can also run the risk of girdling (see Girdling help topic for more information). Stake plants exposed to wind and remember to remove the stakes and wire the following year to prevent girdling. Use a fertilization program throughout the life of your new additions. Water and prune correctly. By alleviating these problems you will ensure the good health and appearance of your trees or shrubs.

For more information, call the professionals at Ace of Blades at 818-LAWN (818-5296),
or e-mail us at paul@aceofblades.ca.