January and early February are great for not only pruning most trees, but great for planting new trees. Most trees, even evergreens, benefit from being planted during the cooler months.
According to Dr. Doug Welsh trees that are planted properly will have a better chance at success. Here are a few guidelines on getting the job done right:
Dig a hole large enough in diameter so that the root system has at least six inches of clearance on all sides. The root ball should rest on a solid soil foundation, so don’t dig the hole much deeper than the ball.
Plant the tree or shrub slightly above the level of the surrounding soil, to allow for settling and increased soil drainage.
Carefully place the tree or shrub in the hole. Handle the plant by the root ball, not by the trunk. A broken ball of earth can mean a dead plant. Always remove any container before you plant
Backfill the hole, using only the native soil removed from the hole; do not use soil amendments when planting large shrubs and trees. Some compost with native soil will benefit certain trees such as Dogwoods and Magnolias. Fill the hole, and firm the soil around the plant. Water thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots and to eliminate any air pockets.
Do not fertilize your tree or shrub after planting. Wait until early in the spring to do this, and even then, go lightly. Heavy applications of fertilizer may burn and injure the root system, and could possibly kill the plant.
Watering has been and remains paramount in transplanting. At the time of transplanting, soak the root ball and surrounding soil. A thorough watering every 7 to 10 days dramatically increases the success ratio. More frequent watering may encourage root rot. Remember more trees and shrubs fail from over watering then from under watering.
Before calling it a day, add 4 to 6 inches of mulch around the base of newly planted trees and shrubs. This helps to keep down weeds and conserve soil moisture. Use pine bark, compost, grass clippings, or leaves.
Remember when planting ALL trees, allow for not only their height, but their root and limb spread. A common mistake on new home builds (and many home remodel/renovation television shows) is planting a small or medium-sized tree 1 or 2 feet from the eaves of the home or close to a walkway to the front door. In 3-5 years you will be fighting the top of the tree pushing on your roof or making your visitors have to duck to get to your front door.
Always give trees enough distance for the spread of their limbs and roots when mature. Your tree may look a little lonely planted 20 feet from your home, but it will save you a lot of money later in life. Some typical problems caused by planting a tree to close to a home or driveway include: buckled concrete, limbs constantly hitting windows and crowding out other plants.
The following trees will be available at the WCMGA Tree Event on Saturday, February 1: Chestnut, Chinkapin, Water and Pin Oaks; Green Ash, Willow, Silky Dogwood (more of a large shrub), and Pecan. The trees are donated by the Texas Forest Service. This is a preliminary list, and they types of trees available may change.
There are limited numbers of Native Pecans. All trees are bare root and should be kept moist until planted. They average in size from 1 to 3 feet. Remember that the larger trees, such as Pecans and the Oaks, will need up to 40 feet spacing between each tree!
The Tree Event will begin at 8:00 a.m. and close at Noon. Donations of $1 per tree (except Pecans) will be accepted in cash or check. Native Pecans are limited to 5 per person and are a $2 donation. The Tree Event will take place at the Walker County Storm Shelter, located at 455 Hwy. 75 North.
For more information on the Tree Event, contact the Walker County AgriLife Office at 936-435-2426. Master Gardeners are typically ‘in’ on Thursday mornings for questions. You may also contact via email at: email@example.com
The Walker County Extension Office is also on Facebook. WalkerCoTxAgrilife has been established to provide updates and information to Walker County residents and landowners on a timely basis. The Walker County Master Gardeners are also on Facebook! Check out both of these Facebook pages and hit “like” to join.