Soil for evergreen arborvitae

johnspirAugust 25, 2014

We just got sod put in 7 days ago and I want to plant a bunch of 1.75 gallon evergreen arbs.

I was told to:
- dig a hole as deep as the bucket and 2 - 3 times the width.
- put the arb in, and fill it in with a 50/50 mix of the dirt plus some peat
- leave no sod around the trunk of the arb in the size of the hole that we back fill

Does that make sense? We had a few inches of topsoil put down before the sod went in, and the soil is a bit on the sandy side.

Thoughts? I just want to make sure that before I start, I do it right :)

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There is a point of view (that I find reasonable but only up to a point) that says if you give the tree a prepared hole, that is where it will grow its roots, and nowhere else. Preparing the soil extensively makes sense if you're POTTING a tree, but you're planting one instead. To me it's excessive make-work.

But, there are scads of people who have done all the extra prep and today have very nice trees. Was the extra work worth it? To them it was (because they have nice trees).

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 6:37PM
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Where in the United States are you?
What is the soil this tree is being planted in like?
Dig the hole 2 inches less deep then the pot that contains the tree roots.
Do not amend the soil in this hole.
Once the roots are in the hole fill back to 1/2 the depth and water thoroughly and then fill the rest of the way and water again.
Put a good mulch layer around the tree. No grass, no flowers.
Water daily for a week or two and then as needed to keep the tree hydrated.

Here is a link that might be useful: how to plant a tree

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 7:13AM
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Thanks everyone... Now, I am wondering, since I am pla nting in a row,... bucket size is 9 inches diameter. Should I just cut a strip of sod out that is 18 inches wide, all along the row? Or leave a little sod in between the plants?

Thinking it will be easier to just cut the row, but then there's the look of it....

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 10:13AM
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Several years ago when I planted rows of pines for a windbreak I simply dug holes to put the potted trees in and left the grass there which was then covered with a mulch. When the grass died (deprived of the sunlight needed for growth) the nutrients the grass removed from the soil went back into the soil to feed the trees. They are all still there and growing. Removing the sod means you will be removing a source of nutrients those trees could use.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 11:25AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

one might suspect.. you will get wildly different information .. in the conifer or tree forums... since conifers are trees ...

bottom line... DO NOT AMEND A PLANTING HOLE .. never fert.. and water PROPERLY ...

see you there ... and do let them know if clay soil is an issue ...


    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 11:29AM
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Good advice here, the world has changed in terms of amending tree holes, although many have been successful and I can hardly help myself and still do it to this day. Amend only if the soil is horrible, and if so, you can mitigate the future problem of roots getting out of the amended hole by putting lots of organic mulch between them down the row. It will decompose and improve the soil over time. Grass clippings, wood chips, shredded yard waste, etc.

If your soil is clay, it's good to plant them a bit high and mound soil up around the root ball to improve drainage when the plant is getting started. I lost a few early in my career by doing the opposite, planting too deep to form a dish to collect water. It worked in both dry and wet weather, and the latter was trouble!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 12:37PM
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OK, so what it sounds like I should do, is just dig through the sod, plant the tree, and then put mulch down, right on top of the sod, around each of the trees... does make it much easier, that's for sure.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 12:52PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

but then you have to mow around your trees :-) Just something else to consider.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2014 at 12:11AM
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I never found that mowing around the newly planted trees a problem. One solution if that seems to be too difficult is a good thick mulch laid down after the trees are planted which would help conserve soil moisture, kill the grass growing there and allow the Soil Food Web to convert that grass into nutrients those newly planted trees could use, and aid in keeping the soil cooler which would help those newly planted trees to grow better then they would in a soil exposed to the sun which could be hotter and dryer then they would like.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 6:27AM
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