How to plant and prune a tree

July 28, 2015

Adding trees to your property is part of a complete landscaping plan. Planting and maintaining trees may not be easy, but these simple tips will improve your chances at success.

How to plant and prune a tree

Plant a tree

Fall is the best season for planting deciduous trees, but frost-vulnerable container-grown evergreens are best planted in spring. Before planting, make up a planting mixture as for shrubs, and soak bare rooted trees in a bucket of water for several hours. If they are container-grown, water them well.

  1. Work out the size of hole, allowing several extra centimetres in width and depth. Dig the hole and add the planting mixture.
  2. Put in the tree to check for correct depth — use a length of lumber put across the hole and mark the trunk at the right position. Sprinkle in some granules of mycorrhizal root-stimulating compound following the maker's instructions.
  3. Add a stake then put in the tree and spread the roots out as much as possible. Back-fill with soil, pressing it in well as you go. Firm in the tree with your foot. Water well, firm in again and add a layer of mulch.

Cut off a tree branch

Trees seldom benefit from pruning, because the wounds are vulnerable to infection. But sometimes it's necessary to remove lower branches to raise the crown, or take out boughs to thin the crown to allow more light through.

  • Don't prune when a tree is producing or dropping its leaves.
  • Always leave large, high or difficult-to-reach branches to a professional. Don't try to remove any branch you cannot reach from the ground.
  • Use a pruning saw and wear sturdy gloves and eye protection. Don't use a chainsaw for this job unless you have been trained to do so.
  • Remove branches where they meet the trunk or shorten them to a lateral stem (one branching off) that is at least one-third of the diameter of the branch you're removing.
  1. Make sure the area into which the branch will fall is clear.
  2. Begin by cutting a third of the way through the branch from below, three to five centimetres (1 1/4 to two inches) from the trunk, using a pruning saw.
  3. Then repeat from above, three to five centimetres (1 1/4 to two inches) further away from the trunk. This helps to prevent the branch from tearing from the tree.
  4. Then cut through the branch, with an angled cut that is flush with the trunk at the top and slopes away slightly. If sap "bleeds" from the cut, don't dress or bandage it, or you may inhibit the natural healing processes.

By implementing these simple tips and improving your urban or rural environment, you'll improve the curb appeal of your property while adding privacy and value to your home.

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