tree planting fort collins

The Modern Guide to Tree Planting

Tree and Shrub Planting in Fort Collins, CO

We all know that trees and shrubs look great on our property. They add beauty and depth, contrasting colors and a warmth that is more natural than a property without trees and shrubs. A piece of property looks healthier and more vibrant with trees and shrubs interspersed about the yard and in beds.

Trees and shrubs are also critical to the ecosystem and benefit both human beings and wildlife. Trees and shrubs remove carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into oxygen. A single mature tree provides a one-year supply of oxygen for ten people.

From an aesthetic perspective, trees and shrubs act as screens for unsightly objects such as power lines and other eyesores. Trees and shrubs frame our homes so that the house does not appear as an isolated grouping of sharply defined edges and angles. They block the damaging sun and keep homes cool in the hot summer sun. Trees and shrubs increase the property value of our homes and improve curb appeal immensely.

However, some of us in Fort Collins may not know a lot about planting trees and shrubs. There are considerations, such as what trees and shrubs to plant and where to plant them on the property. For example, it is not a good idea to plant a tree that will grow large and tall right next to the house, because the roots may damage the foundation eventually and the limbs will spread into the side of the home. The methodology required for planting trees and shrubs is essential to know as well, such as the depth of holes, watering requirements and so on.

Below is an overview of important facts regarding tree planting and shrub planting on Fort Collins property, as well as specifics for the planting activity itself. This overview serves as a basic guide for beginners, and even those with some experience benefit from observing these fundamental rules and guidelines.

Locations for Trees and Shrubs on the Property.

Here is where we get into the arena of landscape design. The desired effect when tree planting or shrub planting is achieving a balance, for example, you would not want ten trees on one side of your house and two trees on the other. You want to use trees that are appropriate to the scale of your house, also. A two- or three-story home will require taller trees to frame it properly, while a one-story house is best suited for trees that will not tower over the home. Plant trees at least 10 to 15 feet from any structure or underground piping and septic systems, so that the roots will not do any damage to them. Put some thought into the sizes of the plantings and where you want to locate them before you head off to the nursery.

Always keep in mind the amount of sunlight that the tree needs when thinking about where to plant the tree. The soil type is important as well, because certain kinds of trees and shrubs need well-drained soil and will drown if you plant them in compacted soil or soil with a lot of clay.

The locations for planting shrubs are numerous, due to their versatility. Shrubs are both decorative and useful. Their size provides a transition between trees and ground plantings, softening the edges of foundations and boundaries. They look great against the house, as backdrops for flower borders and as walls to block the view of the street. Shrubs are also used to hide eyesores on the property, such as heating and cooling units, mechanics for swimming pools and trash can areas. Consider what you will be using the shrubs for, and where you will place them before you buy them.

Finding the Right Nursery.

Finding the right nursery to purchase your new trees and shrubs is crucial to the success of planting. Pick a nursery that is reputable and that carries trees and shrubs that are zone appropriate, meaning that they tend to thrive in your geographic area. To find trees that do well in the Fort Collins area, look here. Investigate the health of the plantings at the nursery and ask a lot of questions of the staff. You do best with a nursery staff that is knowledgeable about their products and can give you detailed information about how to plant them. Also, they should know what soil and light conditions are most appropriate for a specific species. Make sure and check their Better Business rating and ask neighbors, friends, and co-workers for referrals.

Selecting a Healthy Tree or Shrub.

The condition of the specimen that you purchase is vital because a sick or poorly treated one will not do well in your yard. Trees and shrubs that are balled with burlap correctly are firm to the touch, especially near the trunk, and make sure that the ball size is big enough for the tree size. Potted species must have soil and roots joined tightly together, but you do not want the roots to be large and circling the pot. Check and see that any pruned roots are cleanly cut and not wider than your finger.

Bright, healthy bark and well-distributed branches with a size that looks correct for the trunk are both signs of a healthy tree or shrub. Look for any signs of insects or blight and do not select an injured tree or shrub, such as a one with a broken limb or a scarred trunk.

Planting Trees and Shrubs.

Research the tree or shrub that you are planting to determine the appropriate time of year to plant and that is probably in the spring or fall.

The first thing to do is to use a rototiller or a shovel to turn the soil in the area where you are planting. Break up an area larger than the root ball by a few feet and as deep as the root ball. Then soak the entire area very thoroughly and leave it for a half an hour. When you return, score the bottom of the hole a bit so that it has a rough texture.

The hole that you dig in the planting area is wider than the size of the root ball by a foot all around and round shaped. Set the tree or shrub into the hole while the root ball is still in its protective covering to make sure that the hole is deep and wide enough, with some room to spare. Also, situate it so that it is facing the way that you want from a design perspective. The top of the root ball should be about an inch above the hole because the tree or shrub will settle when you place it in the hole uncovered. You do not want the tree or shrub planted too deeply, as this can do a lot of harm and even kill the planting.

Next, carefully unwrap the tree or shrub from the burlap that wraps around the root ball. If it comes packed in a container like a pot, remove the root ball from it’s packing, making sure not to damage the root ball. Once you remove the tree or shrub from it’s wrapping, get it into the hole as soon as possible so that the root ball does not dry out.

Set the tree carefully into the hole and then spread the roots out. Check that the top of the root ball is flush with the soil line at the top of the hole. Any damaged or circling roots should be cut off. Try to spread the roots laterally, so that they will make straight contact with the soil. Backfill the hole and stomp the dirt down so that it is firm and leave a slight depression for water to settle. Water the soil thoroughly at this point so that the tree or shrub gets a good drink and the soil settles further.

Now build a dirt dam around the tree a couple of feet out. This circular dam is two inches high and will help the tree to hydrate more effectively. Let the soil become dry before watering again, but not for long periods of time.

Adding mulch to the surface around a newly planted tree or shrub is a good idea. Aside from the aesthetic value, the mulch prevents weeds from growing and releases nutrients into the soil. Mulch the surface three inches deep, but don’t allow it to mound up against the trunk. After mulching the planting pit, push back any mulch touching the trunk a bit.

Now you are ready to plant some trees and shrubs. Think about where you would like to plant them on your property. Do some research on the types of trees and shrubs that do well in the area. You can find a list of them here. Visit a few local nurseries, check out their inventory and talk to the staff. The resources to create a beautifully landscaped property are at your disposal.

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