Decisions Decisions: Planting Trees

Robert Hutchins  |  7/25/2013 11:31:04 PM

Oak trees at the Dean Lee Research Center

Are you a forest landowner, homeowner, or property owner that is interested in planting a tree or several trees on your property? If so, now is the time for landowners to make some critical decisions that will insure your planting will be a success.

The initial and primary consideration of any successful planting is what species or type(s) of tree(s) are you interested in planting? Now is the time to make that decision and Extension Agents are available to help you with your decision. Different tree species prefer different conditions and provide different benefits to the landowner. Landowners need to make that decision based on several factors. First, what is the purpose of the planting? Purposes include shade, wildlife habitat, timber production, and food production among others. Second, what is the soil properties and drainage where the tree will be growing? Different tree species are more adapted to certain soil pH, fertility, and drainage patterns. Soil properties such as pH and fertility can be determined through a soil test analyzed by the LSU AgCenter’s Soil and Plant Tissue Analysis Lab and general drainage patterns can be determined through consultation with an AgCenter Forestry Agent. Third, will native species be used or will non-native species be used? There are advantages and disadvantages to each type. Fourth, how many trees should I plant on my site? Different species need to be planted at different spacing and densities for proper tree growth and good tree health.

The next step would be to reserve or order the species and number of trees you will need for your planting. Although this sounds like a simple thing, many landowners miss this important step and are forced to either delay the planting or plant an undesired species or variety. This is especially true when planting grafted trees such as pecan or citrus since inventory is usually limited. Please contact the Rapides Parish Extension Office to get information on the best places to order your trees.

The final step before the actual planting would be to prepare the site for planting. What type of site preparation do you need for your trees? The dry time of the year, usually August – October in Louisiana, is the best time to conduct site preparation operations. Will you need mechanical site prep operations such as mowing, disking, bedding, sub-soiling, etc.? Will prescribed fire be used as a tool for site preparation? Will you need to apply herbicides? Will you need to add any soil amenities such as lime or fertilizer as indicated by a soil test? Now is the time to accomplish these tasks.
If you need any assistance answering any of these questions or any others you may have please call me, Robbie Hutchins – Area Forestry and Wildlife Agent for the LSU AgCenter, at 318-767-3968 or email me.
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