Archive for March, 2009

Care Of Newly Planted Trees

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

A few simple maintenance procedures will help ensure well-established, healthy trees.

tree-maintenance-timetableWater – Be sure to water newly planted trees routinely during the first two years. Apply enough water to keep the soil around the roots moist, but not wet. DO NOT OVERWATER! Examine the soil once a week, especially during dry periods, and apply extra water only if rainfall has been inadequate. Gravelly or sandy soils may need more frequent watering; silt or clay soils may require less. DO NOT WATER JUST TO BE WATERING. CHECK FIRST.

Mulch – Replace mulch every two years or so to maintain a three inch thick layer. Mulch rings may be widened as the tree grows.

Remove any support wires or ties from a tree as soon as possible. Better yet, don’t use any if the tree stands alone perfectly well after planting. If used, try to remove them within 3 months of planting, or certainly by the end of the growing season.

Pruning – is generally not necessary the first two years after planting. However, dead or broken branches should be removed immediately. Study and understand pruning guidelines before initiating pruning maintenance.

Fertilization – is seldom required for trees, and can be harmful if applied too liberally. Moderate applications of a balanced formulation, such as 12-12-12, can increase growth of healthy trees and/or encourage flowering in some species. Before fertilizing, seek guidelines for your specific species from certified nurserymen, arborists, or urban foresters. Note Fertilizer is not a substitute or remedy for poor growing conditions. Use sparingly on weak or distressed trees.

Pest Control – Spraying pesticides, without having a specific target(s) in mind is not recommended. Consult a certified nurseryman or arborist, or an urban forester or extension specialist to learn the correct control method for pests that can be expected to attack your tree(s). If certain pests are a persistent problem, it may be best to replace the tree with one that has fewer problems.

Planting To Save Energy

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Carefully placed trees can provide energy savings for almost any home, in any location. Trees provide cooling shade during the summer, protect your home from chilling winds in the winter, and maximize energy gains from winter sunlight; if planted and grown correctly. Such savings can cut annual home energy use by as much as 15-35 %.

For example: planting a tree or shrubs to shade your air conditioning compressor can increase cooling efficiency by as much as 10%. Just shading the compressor can do that!

Shade  The Compressor!The average frame home may lose as much as 30% of the heat from within, if not protected by a windbreak planted on the side of the house from which the prevailing wind blows. Evergreen trees planted close together to create a complete wall against the wind will do the trick quite nicely. Use species adapted to your area, and plant them so the line is one to two mature tree heights away from the house for maximum effect.

Trees Protect From The WindIf blowing snow is a problem, drifts will accumulate on the downwind side of a windbreak. Be sure to leave enough room between the wind barrier and sidewalks and driveways.

Leave Room For Drifting SnowWork with the sun. Deciduous (broadleaf) trees are energy savers. They shade the home in the summer, and help warm it in the winter when they shed their leaves to let in warming sunlight. Believe it or not, best results come from planting on the east and west sides of the house, rather than the south side. Sounds strange, huh? However, it’s true because during the hottest part of a summer day, the sun is almost directly overhead, and trees have to be planted too close to the house to do any good. East and west is best. Even northwest is a good spot, because it keeps the late afternoon sun minimized.

Plant On East & West Sides of HouseLet The Sunshine IN During The WinterPlanting to save energy is another aspect of Right Tree, Right Place that can really pay off for those of us in need of ways to reduce the cost of living. Sounds to me like that may be everyone!

(Illustrations from the National Arbor Day Foundation)

Planting To Attract Wildlife

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

It may be hard to accept, as you watch a deer munch on some shrubbery in your backyard, but most people enjoy seeing all kinds of wildlife in their urban or suburban settings. This is particulary true with regard to birds, small mammals, amphibians, and even some reptiles (poisonous snakes probably excepted). Undoubtably attracting birds is the favored objective, and many species of trees, shrubs, etc. are planted to attract our feathered friends. By understanding a few basic principles, you can directly affect the variety and quantity of wildlife around your home and in your community.

With a little planning, the usual benefits we expect to receive from tree plantings (shade, wind protection, erosion control, etc.) can be easily multiplied to also benefit wildlife. For example, when making an ornamental planting, you might substitute a bird-rich flowering dogwood in place of an eastern redbud that has only limited value for birds. Or, when planting for quick shade, male boxelders can be used instead of hybrid poplars. The bowelder growth is almost as rapid, and it attracts at least five species of birds, while the poplar is favored by none.

In order to survive, wildlife needs three basic things: food, cover, and water. Providing these are the actions that will attract all manner of wildlife to your habitat. In addition, by providing different arrangements of the three basics, you can make a big difference in what kinds, and quality, of wildlife you can attract. There are many sources of information out there concerning different planting schemes to attract wildlife, but a good place to start is your local Missouri Department of Conservation, or University of Missouri Extension Office. They should have handout information, and will also know where to refer you for more detailed assistance.

Following are some illustrations from the National Arbor Day Foundation that should help you get started.



Preventing Tree/Sign Conflicts

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Another aspect of the “Right Tree, Right Place” concept is planting the right species in locations where they won’t interfere with business signs; and thus drawing the ire of businesses so affected. Signs are the lifeblood of most businesses, but so is a friendly, inviting shopping environment. Trees can provide a softened touch to an otherwise harsh downtown or mall area, and reduce even the most imposing buildings to human scale, and they can do it without interfering with signs.

To prevent sign/tree conflicts, half of the problem can be solved through better sign size and placement, but the other half of the equation rests with those who plant and care for street and mall trees. Rigid spacing of trees is sometimes necessary or desirable; e.g. regularly spaced trees in a mall parking lot provide for as many shady parking spaces as possible. But, to solve tree/sign conflicts, flexibility about where to plant has to be the rule.

1. Plant in the right place – variable spacing, as well as a mixture of species and tree sizes can add interest and           aesthetic appeal  to a community’s streets and shopping malls.

2. Plant the right tree – uniformity of species and sizes may be well for accomplishing landscaping designs, but it can result in unforseen consequences with regard to signs; resulting in the conflicts that create resentment by business owners.

3. Prune to aid visibility – whether it is a limb obstructing a stop sign, or a shade tree in front of a store, trees in most communities need annual inspections and regular pruning to prevent tree/sign conflicts. A nice tree in front of a business, which has been properly pruned so the business’ sign can be read underneath the canopy, not only makes the business owner happy, but creates a better environment for shoppers; plus it keeps the crown out of the way of vehicles and vandals.

Avoiding Tree/Sign Conflicts

Avoiding Tree/Sign Conflicts

The above illustration is a simplified, but informative, version of information presented in the National Arbor Day Foundation’s  Tree City USA Bulletin No. 11. Thanks to the Arbor Day Foundation.