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Connecticut Garden Journal
Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more.

Connecticut Garden Journal: Tree Planting

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Spring is a great time to plant a tree. Shade, fruit and flowering trees not only increase the value of your yard, they are great as wildlife habitat.

But how you plant your tree is critical to long term success. I recently attended an Ecological Landscaping webinar on tree planting and came away with some good tips.

Nursery grown trees can lose up to 90% of their roots when transplanted. The larger the tree, the longer it takes to recover from transplant shock. It's better to start with a smaller tree that will start growing again quicker. At the nursery, select trees with no damage on the trunk and a trunk that doesn't rock independently of the root ball or container.

Once you get the balled and burlap or container tree home, dig a hole 3 times the width of the root ball, and as deep, in a well-drained location in full sun.

Remove the container, burlap and wire cage and inspect the roots. The root flare is the area where the trunk meets the roots and often is fluted. It's critical the root flare is above the soil line. If you don't see the root flare on your tree, gently scrape the top potting soil off until it's exposed. Burying the root flare with soil or mulch will increase disease on your trunk. Prune any other roots circling around the root ball. These can eventually strangle your tree.

Plant using the native soil and water in well. Plant so the root ball is the same height, or slightly above, the soil line. Keep well watered the first year and your tree can last for decades.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.

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