How a tree is planted will affect how a tree will grow. One of the main improper practices in planting trees today is planting too deep. When a tree is buried too deeply the root collar suffocates. The root collar can be identified by a flare at the base of the trunk. It is where the roots meet the trunk. If a tree does not have a flare at the base it has most likely been buried too deeply. The excess soil results in disruption of water and nutrient uptake causing decline in the trees health. When planting a tree you should make sure that the top of the root ball is level with the ground. Dig the hole twice as wide but do not dig the hole any deeper than the root ball so that the tree does not settle any lower. When planted at the proper depth the trunk flare should be visible. If the trunk enters the ground as straight as a telephone pole, the tree has been planted too deep.
The goal for proper plant watering is to water deeply and infrequently. Deep watering trains the roots to go down into the soil where there is natural water retention. Deep root systems can better withstand drought conditions and will help keep trees grounded in high winds. New trees require heavy amounts of water, even drought tolerant varieties. Water to a tree is similar to caffeine to humans; when you are used to drinking it everyday you can develop a headache when you do not get your caffeine. When a tree misses a watering it can easily get stressed. A tree coming from a nursery in a container is watered heavily to keep it healthy and to promote fast growth. It will need to be weaned off of regular watering to keep it from shocking. Minimizing shock will help your plant to adapt to its new conditions faster. Once planted in the ground, a plant will retain better moisture and will not need as much water and can adapt quickly to less frequent watering. Lightly spraying down the top soil surrounding your new plants will help them to retain moisture without overwatering them.
Proper watering depends on many things: plant type, soil type, weather conditions, & the changing seasons. Soil conditions can vary drastically from one yard to another. What works for your neighbor’s tree may not work for yours. You will need to check your own soil conditions to be able to judge what your plants will need. Use a rod to drive into the edge of the root zone after irrigating will let you know how deep the water has soaked. The rod should slide through wet soil easily. Check the soil’s moisture with the rod test frequently to develop an idea of how often your plants will need to be irrigated.
Over watering is a common problem, even during hot Arizona summers. Soil that remains wet constantly does not allow oxygen to reach the plant’s roots. Trees need to be able to breath. Lightening of green or yellow leaves on the lower part of a tree is a sign of overwatering. Water deprived trees will brown at the tips of the leaves.
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