In the Garden:
Lower South
December, 2001
Regional Report

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Landscape trees are long term investments worth careful planning and forethought. Chinese pistache is a great choice for the lower south providing summer shade and attractive fall color.

Landscape Trees are a Long Term Investment

Landscape trees are an investment that will pay off for many years to come. Too often folks give little thought to the best species for their landscape, the best location for the tree, or proper planting and early care. These mistakes become costly as the years go by. A little forethought, research and planning will pay big dividends in years of enjoyment and added property value.

Winter is Prime Planting Season

Late winter/early spring is an excellent time to plant shade trees. The sooner you get trees planted, the more time they will have to establish a strong root system and get ready for the hot summer months ahead.

Choose Adapted Species and Varieties

The single most important factor when selecting a shade tree is choosing an adapted species and\or variety. The size of the transplant and whether it is containerized or bare root is much less important than choosing a plant that will do well in your area. If you are not sure about which shade trees will suit your location best or the positive and negative points of a particular species or variety (we all have our pluses and minuses!) give your local Extension Office a call before you decide. Their advice is free and they often also have free literature on hand.

Proper Planting Is Important

Bareroot trees are an excellent, economical choice provided they are planted in winter and properly cared for before and after planting. Keep the roots moist prior to planting by wrapping them in damp packing material or sawdust. Container trees offer a wider planting time and can be planted almost any month of the year in the south.

Trim off broken or injured roots. Unwind or cut circling roots on container grown plants. Set the tree about the same depth as it grew in the nursery (you can see the soil line on the trunk). Dig planting holes at least half again as large as the spread of the tree's roots. Never wrap the root around to fit the hole. Avoid digging a hole too deep as the soil will likely settle in time, leaving the tree too deep or damaging roots. Use the soil from the site (not a special mix) to refill the hole halfway. Press soil firmly around the roots and water well to prevent leaving air pockets which may dry out root sections. Finish filling the planting hole and then water the plant well again.

Don't add fertilizer in the planting hole or it could burn the newly developing roots. Fertilizer may be added about 6 weeks later by scattering about 1/2 cup of turf type fertilizer in a circular pattern extending 3 feet out from the tree. Repeat fertilizer applications at 4 to 6 week intervals through July. Water weekly during the hot summer months, giving trees a good deep soaking.

Cut back the tops of bare root trees by 1/3 to 1/2 if the nursery did not already do this. Container grown trees don't need to be cut back. Spread 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the tree to deter weeds and help keep away the dreaded "public enemy #1 of young trees," the weed eater! Remember that new tree is just starting to develop a good root system so keep the soil moist but not soggy wet during the critical first growing season.


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