Hey guys! We did some adding and subtracting in the yard over the weekend. We added a new tree and removed an old concrete column that was located at the base of our back stairs. I had the luxury of having a broken hand and wrist, so I couldn’t help out (it killed me). My kid, my neighbor and my husband jumped in to plant a new tree in our backyard – aren’t they some good dudes, er what?
Why do we need a new tree? Simple, to create more privacy. We have a rental on the side of our house and ever since my aging crust-punk-neighbor (renter) declared me his “enemy ’till death,” in front of my mom and my 5-year-old-kid one sunny afternoon, I’ve been determined to create as much distance between that house and mine as I can. This Dakota Pinnacle Birch will stand tall at 30′, is nice and dense with leaves, and spans the width of 8′. The tree is the perfect size to block out the perched view my neighbor has of our back yard from his second floor deck, while at the same time being architectural in shape as to limit our entire backyard from becoming too shaded. Most of you probably don’t have the luck of having a completely terrible neighbor so planting a tree for this specific reason probably isn’t an issue you for you. However, I have smartly written this post so even if you’re adding a shade tree to a sunny yard or an ornamental tree to a garden bed, the same rules apply.
Choose a location, make sure it will not get in the way of foot traffic, isn’t too close to walkways or structures and isn’t planted under power lines. Call before you dig! Make sure you know where your utility lines run under your yard. Most cities have a number you can call, in Minneapolis it’s 811.
Remove loose soil from the top of root ball.
Often times trees from garden centers come packed with extra soil. It is important that the trees trunk is not covered and the soil only comes up far enough to cover the roots only.
Measure the width of the root ball and make a hole 2-3 times as wide and equally as deep. It is important not to dig deeper than the depth of the rootball as you don’t want to backfill and have soil cover the trunk of the tree.
Skim off the grass
With a garden spade or shovel remove the grass and roots from top of the tree bed. Use a tarp to protect the lawn and collect the grass. Use a wheelbarrow to collect the soil. If you have bare spots in your lawn re-use the sod to fill in sparse areas of lawn.
Remove tree for pot or burlap.
Remove tree for pot or burlap, take care to pull it up directly from the pot making sure not to damage the branches. If the tree is rather large tip the tree on it’s side to slide the pot off or remove burlap. Pulling the tree near the base of the trunk usually works best.
Loosen the roots
Use a cultivator or gardening trowel to loosen the roots around the root ball. The tree roots have been compacted into their pot and need to be loosened up so they can spread out and take root in the new tree bed.
Add compost or fertilizer
Add compost or fertilizer to the bottom of your hole. I always add a bag of compost but if you are considering amending the soil with fertilizer, make sure to ask a nursery professional what kind of fertilizer to use and how much.
Center the tree
Center the tree in the hole and and rotate it so you have it facing pretty side out (every tree has a good side). I pointed the less pretty side towards the jerky neighbors house.
Make dirt tree soup – that’s what Finn calls it. Water that hole deeply, plunge in the hose and fill it up to the top with water before backfilling with soil.
Mulch the bed of the tree – be generous and cover in a good 3″ of mulch. Take care not to mulch near the base of the tree. Around the garden edge pile the mulch up so that it creates a bowl, this will help the bed retain water for the tree.
Water, water, water.
Water, water, water. Rule of thumb. Water everyday the first week, twice a week the second, and at least once a week until the frost.