Perform a Sacred Act: Plant a Tree

In a few weeks, my newly planted autumn brilliance serviceberry will turn this color.

In a few weeks, my newly planted autumn brilliance serviceberry will turn this color.

I’ve always considered planting a tree to be one of life’s sacred acts.

Besides making the environment more beautiful, trees combat climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. They cool your home and streets, conserving energy. They provide food and a habitat for wildlife. What’s not to like?

So this week, as a first step in redesigning my front yard, I planted a multi-stem autumn brilliance serviceberry tree. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m gaga over serviceberries.

As far as I’m concerned, every garden needs at least one. Serviceberries provide white blossoms in the spring before other trees even wake up. Then in the summer, these plants produce delicious blue berries treasured by humans and birds alike. Finally, in the fall, serviceberries dazzle passersby with outstanding fall color. The autumn brilliance turns red-orange. Another of my favorites, the regent serviceberry, turns a fabulous golden color, sometimes mingled with coral.

So if you’re thinking about planting a tree, serviceberry or otherwise, now’s a good time. Trees are on sale at nurseries because garden centers want to reduce their inventories before winter. In addition, fall is one of the best times to plant because of increased rainfall after dry summers.

When planting a new tree, such as this autumn brilliance serviceberry, mulch around the root ball, but not on top of it.

When planting a new tree, such as this autumn brilliance serviceberry, mulch around the root ball, but not on top of it.

Although I’ve planted many trees and never lost one, I always check the Colorado State University website for the latest updates on tree-planting techniques before I plant a new tree. Techniques change as researchers discover new information about tree establishment and growth. So this time, I used Colorado Master Gardener GardenNotes #636, Tree Planting Steps. I especially like the labor-saving tip about creating a saucer-shaped planting hole during the backfill process.

One of the most common mistakes that homeowners make when planting a tree is planting the root ball too deep. So pay special attention to the depth of the planting hole in relation to the height of the root ball. I planted my young serviceberry so the top of the root ball was one inch above grade.

And don’t be shy about tearing into that root ball to untangle any girdling roots. If you plunk the tree into the ground without untangling the roots, the roots will likely continue to grow in a circle around the root ball instead of venturing out into surrounding soil for nutrients.

If you plant a tree correctly (and yes, you can do it yourself), you’ll enjoy a beautiful, healthy tree for years to come.

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Filed under Landscape Design, Plant Geekiness

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