The Secrets to Proper Tree Planting

The Secrets to Proper Tree Planting

Lisa’s Landscape & Design ♦ 02/08/2012 ♦ 5 Comments

Are you confused about how to properly care for your trees? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. One of the most confusing aspects of tree care is understanding the right way to mulch. But fear not, because I’m here to clear up the confusion and share with you the secrets to successful tree planting. So, let’s dive right in!

Start With a Berm

When a tree is still a sapling, it needs a mulch “berm” to provide essential benefits. To create a berm, build a tire-shaped ring around the base of the tree, starting about 8 inches away from the trunk and extending at least 3 feet out. The center of the ring should be level with the ground, while the outer ring should have a 6-inch bump to hold water when the tree is watered or receives rainfall.

Keep it Low

Now, here’s where things often get confusing. The berm should not look like a teepee or any other shape. Instead, imagine placing a child’s pool inner tube around your baby. The tube should be around the baby, not over it or partially covering it. Apply the same concept to the tree berm – it should be a spare tire-shaped ring around the tree.

Keep it Growing

As your tree grows larger, the mulching technique needs to evolve as well. The ring should now be flat and as round as the canopy of the tree. Avoid building a rock fortress or overfilling the area with dirt, as this can restrict the tree’s growth and cause stress. If you prefer a stone border around your trees, make it large and low, ensuring you can still see the tree’s natural flair or bell shape at the base of the trunk.

Keep it Flat

After the second year, the mulch berm is no longer necessary. Instead, create a wide and flat tree ring. This serves a different purpose than the previous round shape. It helps keep grass away from the tree, providing a water-saving benefit. In the woods, you won’t find grass growing under trees. So, remove an equal amount of sod as the tree’s drip line, which is the outermost limbs of the tree.

Compost Feeds and Repairs

Every spring, add about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of compost, followed by a 1/2 inch of mulch. Repeat this process every year or two as the tree branches out, gradually widening the tree ring by removing a bit more sod. As your tree grows, the tree ring can become a great spot for a bird bath, a bench, or some simple Xeriscape plants.

The Secrets to Proper Tree Planting

Keep the Grass Away

Grass competes with trees for water and nutrients, so it’s essential to minimize grass growth around your trees. By removing the sod underneath the drip line of the tree, you create an environment similar to what you would find in the woods. This allows organic matter and symbiotic plant life to thrive, benefiting both the tree and the surrounding ecosystem.

Tree Rings are Protection

Maintaining a mulched tree ring around all your trees is particularly important for oak trees. In central Texas, Oak Wilt is a prevalent threat, and your tree ring acts as a barrier against lawn mowers and weed eaters that could damage the tree bark. Keeping a safe distance helps prevent the spread of the harmful fungus associated with Oak Wilt.

Happy Tree Planting!

Lisa LaPaso

Lisa’s Landscape & Design

“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”

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Note: The original images have been included in the appropriate sections of the article to enhance visual understanding.