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- Dave Harvath
Proper Mulching Techniques
New Tree Planting
- Applying a 2 to 4-inch layer of organic mulch can mimic a more natural environment and improve plant health.
- Too much mulch or mulch against the trunk can cause an anaerobic environment which is harmful to the tree. Top dressing is OK as long as the total depth doesn't exceed 4 inches.
- Organic mulches including wood chips, bark, cocoa hulls, leaves, pine needles and other plant derived products are preferred to inorganic materials like rock and rubber.
- Remember, the best mulching isn't deep, but it is spread wide. The closer we come to mimicking nature, the better for the tree.
- Make the planting hole as much as three times the diameter of the root mass, but only as deep as the root flare.
- Pre-measure depth of hole to the root flare. It is rather difficult to raise the tree once it is placed in the planting hole.
- Prior to backfilling, use a spotter to confirm the tree is straight.
- Remove all foreign material (pot, burlap, wire, etc.) prior to backfilling.
- Backfill with approximately 1/3 of the soil and pack the soil in firmly. Fill the rest of the way alternating with soil and water to eliminate air pockets.
- Stake the tree if necessary, but remove the stakes after one growing season.
- Keep the soil moist, but not soaked. Approximately one inch of water per week is a good guideline to follow.
Benefits of Trees
- The three cut method is the preferable method of tree pruning. This involves an undercut about six inches away from the trunk, a top cut just in front of the undercut then a finish cut back to the branch collar.
- Most trees can be pruned at any time of year, however there are disease sensitive species such as oak that can't be pruned until dormancy.
- Quantity of pruning is dependant on the tree. Young trees in prime condition can tolerate up to 25% live tissue per year. However, mature trees or trees in decline should only have dead or hazardous branches removed.
- Wound dressings (pruning paint) were once thought to help speed wound closure. Research has shown this to not be the case and most likely the opposite results.
- Deciduous trees placed on south and west sides of the house provide shade and can lower air conditioning costs by 10-15%.
- Street trees provide shade and cover for paved surfaces reducing run-off and reflected heat.
- Property values of landscaped homes are 5-20% higher than those of non-landscaped homes.
- Vegetative screens can be planted as visual and sound barriers.