May 26, 2015

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now. – Chinese proverb

Planting trees in your garden is a sustainable way to add beauty and value to your home. Not only will you help reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, trees also provide essential food and shelter for wildlife.

It might seem like a daunting task to undertake but it’s relatively straightforward and autumn is the perfect time to start, as Lisa O’Brien from Exterior Landscape and Pool Creators tells us.

“Warm autumn soils are perfect for planting trees. They encourage root growth and give you just enough time before the winter frosts set in,” says Lisa. “Vermont experiences extreme temperatures, so a general rule of thumb is to plant trees with a thicker and robust foliage. We recommend Magnolia (both evergreen and deciduous), Blueberry Ash, Ornamental Pear and Crepe Myrtle trees.”

When planting trees, Lisa recommends the following step-by-step process for optimum health.

  1. Ensure the tree has sufficient room to grow, so make sure it is not going to cause any problems or obstructions when at mature height.
  2. Dig a hole twice the size of the tree’s container. Don’t plant any deeper than the current level.
  3. Loosen the subsoil (the layer of soil under the topsoil) and backfill with good-quality garden soil. Gently pack down the soil but don’t make it compact.
  4. Create a dish around the trunk (by mounding up some of the dirt) to direct water to the root ball.
  5. Apply a generous layer of mulch (75mm) to the surface, ensuring the mulch is clear of the trunk.
  6. New trees often require staking for additional support, to help establish the root system and prevent damage from winds. Avoid staking the tree so it stands rigid; you want to leave room for the tree to sway, as this will strengthen the trunk.

Which tree?

Lisa advises which trees to plant for your needs or the effect you want:

  • For year-round beauty my pick would be the Japanese maples and crepe myrtles. The maples have soft foliage and there are varieties that provide stem colour in the winter months. Crepe myrtles are available in a range of sizes and colours that will add beauty to any garden.
  • For quick growth go for the larger varieties of lily pillies.
  • For privacy the Pyrus ‘Capital’ is the most upright of the Ornamental Pears. It’s ideal for extra privacy.
  • For containment there are a few species of Japanese maple that are great for small gardens. You can also try the Crepe Myrtle Indian Summer range and Betula (birch) trees.
  • If you want low-maintenance trees, choose any of the above!

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