Often times when the weather begins to warm up in the spring, we often think that the ideal time to plant trees. Although it is ok to plant them at that time, the ideal time is the fall. The reason and advantage to planting in the fall is it allows the plant to establish a root system in the new soil long before shoot growth is initiated the next spring.
Root activity takes place in relatively cool soil even though the top (shoot) is not actively growing. Also, usually less supplementary water will be required in late fall and early winter.
As with planting trees, always dig the hole the same depth as the container it is in and twice the width. Plant tree and fill hole half full with soil and water well. After the water settles, apply the rest of the soil to fill hole and water well again.
We do not recommend a fertilizer to be put in hole at planting.
Let the tree establish itself for a growing season before fertilizing. Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch to the area to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and keep weed-eater and lawnmowers away. Keep mulch 6 inches from trunk area of tree.
When we talk about pruning trees, we generally like to do this practice in the dormant season. I want to briefly discuss the reasons for pruning.
The main reasons for pruning include safety, health and aesthetics. We generally prune first for safety, next for health of tree, and finally for aesthetics.
Although we are not in the dormant season and we still have a few weeks left in hurricane season, now is a good time to prune for safety if you have trees or branches that could fall and cause injury or property damage. Now is a good time to make visual observations of the trees around your business or home. Look for dead branches, diseased branches, stem and trunk problems, insect damaged trunks and branches, root problems, and weak root flares to name a few.
If you have concerns about the safety of your trees and feel they need pruning, be sure and call an arborist licensed by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to perform the work for you if it can't be performed by yourself.
Remember that there is no one perfect tree. All trees have certain advantages and disadvantages based on location and characteristics of the tree.
Select a tree that will mature at the appropriate size. Planting a tree that will grow too large for its space is a common problem made in planting. Remember to consider mature height and spread on trees.
Think about the purpose of the tree and why it is needed. Do you want to provide shade, flowers, foliage color, etc.?
Do you want a deciduous tree (loses it leave in the winter) or an evergreen tree (retains its foliage year round)? Both have advantages and disadvantages.
Choose trees that are well adapted to our growing conditions. Don't go by advertisements that say good for all locations. Use the trees that are proven here already.
Keep in mind about planting near overhead power lines. Select trees that will be small and low-growing for these areas.
Consider sidewalks, patios, driveway, house slabs and other paved surfaces that may be damaged by the roots of large trees. Locate large trees at least 15-20 feet from paved surfaces and your house slab.
Late January and through February are ideal times to fertilize healthy trees. Healthy trees generally need fertilizing only once every 3 years if maintained in healthy growing conditions.
Tree fertilization methods are based on the root system spread method. The general recommendation is 1 to 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of root area.