Tuesday's task was twofold: purchase and plant a nifty new dogwood and also transplant three migrating arborvitaes from a friend's garden to my yard. It was a busy afternoon but the mission was accomplished after some hard labor.
The dogwood I picked out was a 'Constellation' dogwood which is a hybrid of Cornus kousa and Cornus florida. Because of the cross between the Kousa dogwood and our native dogwood the tree gains the benefits of the anthracnose resistance naturally found in the Kousas. The big drawback for me is that it won't fruit in the fall. The location for the new dogwood was an easy pick. I took down a cedar tree a while back on the side of our house that gets morning sun and afternoon shade - the perfect setting for a dogwood. It also gave me a good excuse to expand the corner shade garden. (Please excuse the mess of the shade garden - it need mulching and cleanup)
This dogwood is one of the few times I'll plant a balled and burlap tree. I prefer buying smaller trees in pots for a number of reasons but mainly because they are so much easier to manipulate. In addition smaller trees generally grow at a faster rate since they are not having to recover any lost roots (trees that go through the B&B process may have roots removed during the digging process). Dogwoods are slower growing trees than most so I decided to go with a larger tree that we can enjoy right away instead of waiting for the tree to become a larger size. During the process I moved the border stones from the corner shade garden out into a more curvy shape. I had to avoid the roots of the old cedar and wanted to move the tree's location a little farther away from the house. Dogwoods are smaller trees and should be fine near a structure.
It's important to do a few things when planting a balled and burlap tree:
- Remove the metal cage that holds in the roots. If you don't you run the risk of the tree becoming rootbound.
- Remove the burlap. I know it's biodegradable over time but it certainly makes life a little bit harder for the tree roots to emerge. If it doesn't degrade quickly enough you run the risk of the tree becoming rootbound. Do you sense a theme here?
- Dig a hole just deep enough where the crown of the root will sit above the soil.
- Dig the hole with plenty of space around it to easily fit the root ball inside. They say to dig the hole twice as wide as the root ball but usually I don't. I score the inside of the hole with my shovel blade to loosen up the sides and give the roots easy access.
- Refill the hole with the original soil - DO NOT AMEND. If you amend you run the risk of the tree becoming rootbound (there it is again!). Amending the hole with good rich compost sounds like a great idea doesn't it? Until you realize that your native soil probably isn't as good and the tree roots will stay in the rich compost as long as they can which causes the roots to begin circling the amended hole. It's much healthier for the tree if you encourage a good strong root system by forcing the tree to reach out for the nutrients and water it needs.
- Stake the tree for the first year. Since the root ball resembles a weeble wobble without the "won't fall down part" staking it in place is a good idea. After the first year check to see how stable the roots have become then remove the stakes.
- Mulch with no more than 2-3 inches of mulch and leave a gap around the trunk of the tree. Please no volcanoes...
I planted the arborvitae ('Techny' gets 12'-15' tall and 6'-8' wide, I'll be trimming periodically to keep it the size I want) as entry plants for our slope pathway (check out this post for a before picture of the slope pathway). The two evergreens are flanking the path entrance while the third is further up the path. Each of these trees was about 5 feet tall and were a challenge to dig the holes, get them into place, and make sure they stay standing up along a slope! They will need babying along the way this year especially if we have a hot and dry summer.
Do you plant B&B (balled and burlap) trees or prefer the potted kind?
Labels: evergreens and conifers, trees