Some of my fondest childhood memories centre on trees. There was my tree fort in the pine tree, my swing on the maple tree, the shade I would play under the oak tree and the dove nest I would check on in the spruce trees.
Trees help my memories but trees also play an important role around our homes, communities and in the environment. They provide shelter for wildlife. Trees help to green urban areas creating a cooling effect on city streets. If properly placed trees can help reduce air conditioning costs but at the same time a windbreak of evergreens can reduce winter heating costs by up to 15%. Finally and most importantly trees recycle bad air (CO2) into breathable air (Oxygen) and I don’t know about you but I like to breath!
Before planting any tree you need to think about a few things. What purpose do you need it for? Creating shade, blocking out a neighbour, creating a windbreak, adding fall colour, creating a focal point, helping to attract birds to your yard, flowering or non flowering etc. Next you need to consider size? What is the maximize size at maturity my property can handle? Pay close attention to the proximity to your foundation as some trees can harm foundations later on (don’t plant it to close)? Do you want a deciduous or an evergreen? Finally and most importantly before selecting any tree determine your hardiness zone and sun exposure in the location you are planting.
The best time to plant a tree is early spring or early fall. This way the tree has time to establish its roots before the onset of hot summer weather or harsh winter winds (trees have a greater chance of dying due to summer drought than winter weather). The key to planting any tree is to minimize planting stress. When transporting reduce stress to trees by insuring bark isn’t bruised, roots are not compacted (falling off the truck) and that the trees foliage is properly wrapped before heading down the highway.
When preparing the hole for planting remove any grass or weeds from the planting site. Dig your hole twice the width of the root ball and 1 ½ times the depth. In areas of poor drainage I often dig my planting hole deeper allowing for an area of stones at the base to improve drainage.
Soil is key! Remove any and all poor soil from your planting hole and replace it with a good quality mixture of organic matter or triple mix. Mix in a handful of bone meal as this will help to reduce transplanting shock.
Add new soil to the base of your hole insuring that the rootball will be just above ground level when planting is completed. Gently place the rootball into the hole. Firmly fill soil around the sides of the rootball by packing the soil with your foot or hand. Create a water reservoir around the base of your tree by lipping the soil around the calliper of the tree. To insure your tree will remain straight stake on both sides opposite to prevailing wind direction. Finally apply a thick layer of mulch around the base.
Most importantly trees need water and water often after planting. My biggest pet peeve is when I see newly planted trees left to die especially boulevard trees in new residential areas. Sandy soil may require watering twice a week for up to four hours at a time with your hose set on a trickle of a flow. Water is essential for the first 3 months, thereafter frequency can be reduce and in following seasons mother natures grace of moisture (rain) will be sufficient.
Trees the best investment for your home, your community and everyone’s future health!!
Fab Five Native Trees:
Red Maple (Acer rubrum) Green leaves during the growing season with brilliant red fall foliage. Average height 15m, will grow in compacted soils, sun to partial shade light requirements.
Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis) A native for all season interest with white spring flowers, red fall foliage and red berries for winter interest and to attract birds. Average height 2 to 10m, being salt tolerant serviceberry can be planted close to roads, sun to partial shade light requirements. Fruit is edible.
American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) Also know as ironwood for it’s extreme hardness of wood. Hornbeam is the perfect small tree for the wetland garden as it enjoys moist locations. Mature height 4 to 9m. Attracts birds, butterflies and squirrels. Will grow in clay base soils.
White Spruce (Picea Glauca) A common native evergreen that provides excellent shelter and privacy. Drought and Salt Tolerant. Mature height of 20 to 30m. Small needles are blue green in colour. Sun to part sun.
Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga Canadensis) An evergreen that enjoys shade. Canadian Hemlock is a slow growing evergreen that grows well in moist locations. Mature height of 6 to 30m. Partial sun to shade.