Tree planted too shallowly - what to do

teeooh(4a)June 21, 2013


This is our first summer in our new home. The previous owner (who was a professional gardener) pointed out this tree to me.

She told me that most people wanted to plant trees too deeply and that she was sure she planted this the right depth, but that she staked it to keep it upright...... (hmmm)

Well, last week the rope of one of the stakes snapped and the tree flopped over to no-kidding- no more than a 45 degree angle from the ground.

It obviously needs to be deeper, but I really don't know what to do.

I will post more pics

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

pic 2

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 6:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 6:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

dont buy a word of her story ... and i dont agree with your presumption that it needs to be deeper ....

the trunk shows damage from being planted TOO DEEP ... the soil was pulled back.. showing the discoloration.. and harm done by such ... trunks do NOT get thinner down lower ...

what is your native soil type ..

i dont know if this tree can be saved for the long run ...

with a properly planted tree.. you should see the trunk/root interface.. and your last pic.. still doesnt show such.. go archeologist.. and pull back the soil.. until you find such.. and snap another pic for us ...

i will also guess you have clay soil ... let us know on that ... and the tree is failing to grow out of the planting hole.. to secure itself in the native soil.. a very common problem with highly amended planting holes in bad clay ....

can you confirm any of my guesses????


ps: when you say she was a professional .. do you mean she kept a nice garden.. or did people really pay her???

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 7:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Nice size variegated whatever it is. And decent looking also? Especially for having flopped over.

Ken, is it time to dig down and find the "top" roots of the tree? The idea being we can see how high or low it is planted?

Also, is that garden area a bunch of fu fu well ammended perfect hosta soil?

I bet one of whatever (why do I wanna guess dogwood) is about three hundred dollar bills in that size at a regular nursery so it would be worth as much trouble as saving a good intake with a stripped thread.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 8:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

yes toronado ...... i said:

go archeologist.. and pull back the soil.. until you find such.. and snap another pic for us ...

and yes.. i see nice soil ...around the tree ... but in that kind of soil.. a tree should grab hold pretty fast.. and not be falling over.. unless that nice soil is hiding some bad clay ...

as a guy who used to have 1650 different hosta.. i can appreciate a nice swale of all one hosta.. but all those plain old green hosta bother me.. lol .... AS A COLLECTOR ... BUT!!!! ... are just fine from a landscaping point of view ...


    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 9:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Sara Malone Zone 9b

I agree very pretty! The bark doesn't look like dogwood to me (and you know, that's how you tell a DOGwood - by the bark...sorry....)

Timmytoo you want to be able to see what is called the 'flare', where, as Ken points out is the trunk/root interface. Google 'root flare' and you'll get lots of useful photos.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 10:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
katob Z6ish, NE Pa

The bark of a dogwood.
lol, how long have you been saving that one?

It might actually be a dogwood, a variegated red twig dogwood that's been grown as a single stem and pruned to a standard. I like it, but it was probably always top heavy and might take a couple years for the roots to dig in. I would trim the top frequently to keep off some of that top heaviness..... and also to keep the rounded tree shape.

Come to think of it, I might have to start a couple cuttings and see if I can't raise my own version.... I'm liking it more and more.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2013 at 10:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It it is a dogwood or any tree, It appears to be planted too close to the house.

Since it has fallen over it should be moved, before it becomes a problem.

There are a lot of small understory plants that could replace it.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 10:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for all the good feedback.
Last night we had a large storm and she flopped down again.

I am in Minneapolis and it has been raining almost non-stop since mid-May. The last two summers have been very dry, so while tree might have been tippy before, it is tipping now.

I cleared away more at the base and am adding more pictures.

Ken - the part of the trunk where you say that it has been pulled away form the dirt - that is actually where I scraped away wet leaves before taking the photo.

Those two stripes visible on the trunk just above the ground line are actually paint

- The soil in that part of the yard looks to be 100% "improved", but the base soil type does not tend toward clay elsewhere.

I suspect you guys are right that it is just way to loose and there is nothing for the tree to root in. I wonder if the previous owner was right in her defensiveness that it was not planted to shallowly, but wrong in her solution.

BTW - she did get paid to garden. But she is a flake and her ex husband is some kind of biomass/compost consultant.
I have been amazed at how much of the soil here has been "improved"

This post was edited by Timmytoo on Sat, Jun 22, 13 at 10:59

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 10:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

one more pic with more cleared away

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 10:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A bit closer view.

That light spot on the trunk is a leaf

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 10:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
franktank232(z5 WI)

The top looks way too big for that tiny trunk.... You need some serious stakes to hold that thing up until it can grow bigger.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 5:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you want a tree in that spot you need to start out with a much smaller tree in the 1-2' range planted in dormancy. Give it time to really root in before it gets some size to it. Nothing wrong with planting a variegated dogwood like 'Wolf Eyes' that close to the house, either. I think dogwoods planted even 5' from houses look great for a very long time.

OTOH, that is a beautiful tree but I think after your troubles I wouldn't bother staking it. I would relocate it to another part of the yard.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 7:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

God's honest truth ...

you bought a problem ...

get rid of it ...

and create your own problems...

if you personally invested in it.. i might suggest you pay the price and screw around with it for 3 to 5 years ...

unless you just like the challenge ...

i have destroyed plants that have pissed me off for less.. lol ... but then i would have never have bought one that big.. nor that expensive.. so i would have less inclination to struggle to save it ...


ps: i wonder if she rescued it .. in others words.. adopted a problem.... then abandoned it to you ????

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 8:51AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Miliusa sinensis
Small tree of interesting flowers.
2015 Midatlantic/SE/New England winter damage thread
I don't mean to exclude the midwest but I think for...
davidrt28 (zone 7)
Rutgers Dogwood/Azaleas for corner lot feature - Venus a good one?
Went to a local nursery and finally found some Rutgers...
Does anyone on here have a Cercis canadensis - Eastern Redbud Tree?
I want to get a couple of them. Are they wind tolerant?...
mountain ash question
Will a mountain ash seedling come true to the parent...
Sponsored Products
Afina Signature Collection Double Door 27W x 21H in. Recessed Medicine Cabinet M
$658.00 | Hayneedle
Feiss Bathroom Lighting Kenton 3-Light Oil Rubbed Bronze Vanity Light
Home Depot
Alvin King Size Roll File - WRF38
$71.99 | Hayneedle
Lemon Cypress Standard in Clay Pot
$59.50 | FRONTGATE
Corn Stalk Dracaena 62-inch 'Real Touch' Silk Plant
Calhoun Leather Armless U-Sofa Sectional - Brighton Black Black
Joybird Furniture
Oxford Chesapeake Rug 7'9" x 10'10" - GREEN/YELLOW
$899.00 | Horchow
Honey Can Do 3-tier Black Shelving Unit
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™