Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

Spring is a time for trees


It’s spring and everything seems to be coming to life. Birds are nesting, yards are turning into jungles, and trees and shrubs are budding out. This is the perfect time to plant new trees.

New trees can come from a variety of sources, but there are some things to consider before you purchase. To begin with, you’ll need to ask yourself what you want the tree for. Is it intended as an ornamental? Shade? Fruit? Each of these have their own requirements. As you begin selecting the tree be sure to consider its environmental needs. There are several trees that will thrive here, but there are also many that will not. Be especially careful if you are looking at trees in the big box stores. Many of them have a set inventory that is not specific to our area so some of the trees they sell will not do well here. And they don’t have a warranty on the trees. A local nursery is a good place to shop for trees. Not only will they have trees selected for this area, but they’ll be able to answer any questions you may have, too. Most will also off planting services if needed and will warranty the trees they plant. Some trees that do well here are: ponderosa pine, pinon pine, bristlecone pine, scotch pine, black hills spruce, Norway spruce, blue spruce, Austrian pine, hawthorne, crabapple, elm, fir, cottonwood, aspen, catalpa, linden, maple, buckeye, hackberry and honey locust as well as a number of fruit trees. However, in many of the varieties, there will be species that will not thrive in your location. Cottonwood, for example, is indigenous to riparian locations (i.e. very moist soils) and require a lot of water to survive. Aspen will live here but may not thrive. They actually require a higher altitude to do well. So, ask a lot of questions. You can never have too much information. If you are planting a fruit tree, always ask if the tree needs another tree to cross pollinate. Many fruit trees will require a different species nearby in order to pollinate and set fruit.

Select the planting location based on the mature size of the tree. You don’t want it to be cramped for space later. As you prepare the hole for you tree, spade up an area at least three feet in diameter. The depth of the hole should be just deep enough to reach the top of the root ball. At the top of the root ball, there will be a slight pyramidal area on the trunk. The soil should be level with the line between the root ball and the pyramiydal area of the trunk. Do not cover that pyramydal portion of the trunk. Planting a tree either too deep or too shallow will have harmful effects on the tree and it may not survive. The roots at the top must be covered yet be near enough to the surface to be able to draw in oxygen and water. Remove all the grass and weeds from the dirt that you’ve taken out of the hole. There’s no sense in leaving it because you’ll just spend more time weeding it back out later. Make sure that you unwrap the root ball and remove any restraining wires or twine that may be holdig the roots in place. If you buy a tree from a catalog, follow the planting instructions that come with it. Before setting the tree in the hole, it helps to mix a couple of handsful of bone meal into the loose dirt in the hole. Bone meal helps roots establish moire quickly. Set the tree in the hole, straight, and check the depth.

Once everything is set properly, fill the remaining hole with the dirt that you removed. Stake the tree with three stakes and a wide wrap to keep from damaging the bark. The stakes should be removed after three years. Water the tree well, then mulch the area around the trunk to cover the bare ground, but do not pile the mulch up around the trunk. It should be flat and level, not more than two inches deep. If you have any questions, ask a Master Gardener. It’s what we do.


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