Published March 23, 2005 12:00 AM

Tips for Planting Trees and Shrubs

If you're planting new trees and shrubs this spring, don't spoil them by enriching the soil with organic matter. A hole full of compost and soft organic matter is a comfortable area for the roots, and they aren't likely to spread into the surrounding soil. If the roots don't anchor themselves firmly by spreading, the plant is likely to be toppled by strong winds. Here are a few other tips on planting trees and shrubs:

- Labels attached to your plant by wires can girdle the branch, so remove them when you plant.
- Set the tree in the soil at the same level that it grew in the nursery. Look for a dark mark on the trunk that indicates the depth.
- To protect the trunk from sunscald, rodents, and lawnmower nicks, use a treewrap from soil level to the lowest branch.
- If you use mulch, don't allow it to touch the trunk of the tree.
- Check your plant from all angles to see that it is sitting straight before filling the hole.
- Stakes often cause more damage than they prevent, so use them only when planting in a windy, unprotected area, or if you are planting a top-heavy tree. If you use a stake, leave an inch or two of slack in the wire and cover the part that encircles the tree with a protective covering.


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