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View Full Version : to burlap or not?


i_plant_art
04-15-2005, 12:07 AM
Just curious how many of you out there plant with the burlap on the plants and who takes it off when planting.

Coffeecraver
04-15-2005, 05:15 AM
The proper way is to remove the part of burlap that covers the top of the root ball.

Burlap is used to cover and support the root ball,and serves a very useful purpose during transport of the plant material, but it serves no purpose once the root ball is in it's final place in the planting hole.

Cut the twine and remove the top layer of burlap.

It is often assumed that the burlap and twine will decompose rapidly after planting.

When left in place,they sometimes remain strong for several years,long enough to cause serious constriction of the basal trunk area.

Burlap over the root ball can repel water and cause the root ball to dry out.

:)

YardPro
04-15-2005, 07:46 AM
the national association of nurserymen reccomend leaving it on (from the puplication "nursery notes"). they do, as norm said tell you to make sure no burlap is exposed as it can wick water away from the plant.

grass_cuttin_fool
04-15-2005, 08:12 AM
I have done it both ways, I havent seen any difference in either way

Grassmechanic
04-15-2005, 11:00 AM
the national association of nurserymen reccomend leaving it on (from the puplication "nursery notes"). they do, as norm said tell you to make sure no burlap is exposed as it can wick water away from the plant.
Hmmm, I wonder if that is because they are in the business of selling plants? They're happy to keep selling homeowners the same plant every few years. Remove the burlap. It serves no purpose once in the ground. A lot of burlap is treated these days. I can't tell how many plants I've replaced that were still in the burlap, several years old, and looked as if they were just planted! No roots growing out, only girdling the plant. Also remove the cages.

Duramax99
04-15-2005, 12:08 PM
Peel the burlap back. So, you can make sure the tree is not gurdled. Remove any nylon string. It wont bio-degrade. Cut basket off if applicable. Plant away

YardPro
04-15-2005, 08:34 PM
Hmmm, I wonder if that is because they are in the business of selling plants? They're happy to keep selling homeowners the same plant every few years. Remove the burlap. It serves no purpose once in the ground. A lot of burlap is treated these days. I can't tell how many plants I've replaced that were still in the burlap, several years old, and looked as if they were just planted! No roots growing out, only girdling the plant. Also remove the cages.


negative.


here in the south we have sady soils. if you remove the burlap you can see the root ball shift. the shifting of the root ball soil can tear the remaining capillary roots. since the root system is severly compromised to begin with, we avoid any further dammage.

if you are getting material that was dug in heavy clay soils, they i can see removing it.

also, you should NEVER handle the material by the trunk. Always use the metal cage to handle the material. set ti in place and use bolt cutters to cut the cage open.

your remark about why they reccomend against removal is pretty poorly thought out.

Neal Wolbert
04-16-2005, 01:27 AM
I agree with Grassmechanic. You can't tell anything about the roots unless you can see them. What is the deal, do some of you have xray vision or what? If you don't remove the wrapping, at least (washing the roots is really the way to go) you have no idea what's inside. The burlap and cage, and the nursery soil/media is not sacred and not needed at all. Unwrap, wash, untangle and redirect the roots, plant in native soil (not amended) by "mudding in" with water and your gloved hand, and you've done everything possible to help the plant thrive. You probably won't even need to stake. Glad to exchange ideas with those of you who don't agree...which is most of you, I suppose. Neal

Coffeecraver
04-16-2005, 07:44 AM
The Landscapers and Arborists often battle on issues like this.

The Nurserymen are short time caregivers to the trees.
The Arborists are looking at the long time future of the trees.

It all comes down to the dollar.

If the tree should die within a year the the nurseryman or landscaper
replaces it.So they want to be sure that the tree does not die within the first year.

Most likely by planting the tree high it will not die from sitting in water which is the number one cause of death to new trees.

By planting the tree high, the tree will root up higher and have a greater potential for girdling roots.

Not hauling away extra dirt.
Instead of removing the extra dirt they will make a ring around the tree with it and cover that with mulch,that also saves time and effort of hauling away extra dirt. This is the same as raising the grade around the tree and can result in suffocation of tree roots.

They also will want to keep the twine and burlap in tact to avoid the extra step of removing it,that takes time and time is money.
Girdling often occurs after a few years.

An Arborist will look at the long term and not just for the dollar.

:)

Grassmechanic
04-19-2005, 10:43 AM
your remark about why they reccomend against removal is pretty poorly thought out.

I find it hard to believe that anyone with any advanced education in Hort. is that gullible to believe that the Nursery's give out correct info. MANY university studies prove that removing all materials from the root ball greatly increases survival. Neal Wolbert provided a link to a university study in another thread to de-bunk the myth that leaving the materials around a root ball is proper protocol.

YardPro
04-20-2005, 07:53 AM
neal

no i don't have X ray vision... but personally i don't see the need to look at the roots.

also you gyus are nor considering regional differences. as i said befoore most of the material we get is dug from sandy soils. if you remove the burlap/cage before getting it stabilized in the hole, all the material falls away, taking a lot of the small capillary roots with it. since these are the only water absorbing roots left, it GREATLY reduces the planst ability to uptake water. this is a HUGE problem here, as our soils are almost pure sand.
the planting method here actually takes us a lot longer we dig the hole, set the plant in the hole and fill the area in 4 places aroung the ball to secure the ball. then go in with bolt cutters and cut off the cage, and remove it. this has to be done very carefully. we have no issues with plants sitting in water, we have quite the opposite problem, so all of your examples as why us lazy landscapers plant the way we do is non applicable.

you actually think burlap will cuase root girdling?????? i see roots growing through cracks in concrete and breaking it, they grow through hairline cracks in sewer lines, and penetrate water lines... why on earth would you think they would not grow right through the many holes in the burlap, and in the 3-4 years it takes them to recover from the root prunung cuased by the digging, the burlap is rotted.

mike.
i am guessing by youe reaction you took my response as an insult or attack...not what i was intending. BUT the notion that the nursery industry is intentionally giving out false information that is detrimental to the product they sell just to facilitate more sales is nonesense.

Neal Wolbert
04-20-2005, 12:18 PM
Yardpro, Your first statement...don't see the need to look at the roots. How do you know whether there is girdling roots or circling roots if you don't inspect? How do you know if there is disease or damaged roots if you don't look? Don't you want to know if there is a problem? You're statement about sandy soils is well taken, roots need moisture no doubt, but I don't see how that relates to leaving the burlap on. Why not give the roots every chance to grow away from the stem by taking off the wrapping and redirecting them? If the nursery soil is sandy it should fall away easily so you can check the condition of the roots and rearrange them or prune as needed without much damage, if any. Washing should be done very gently. Feeder roots can take this treatment without problems...unless they are diseased and weak anyway. Do I think nurseries are purposely lying about the issue? Not sure, depends on the honesty of the grower...it can go both ways. I'm not trying to nail you or anyone else on this topic, I just deal with poor planting issues and plant failures every day, and most of them could have been prevented at planting. You sound very conscienscious and I appreciate that. I guess I don't understand the resistance against adopting a new way of doing things if it is a better way. Budget issues drive planting methods for sure, and like I said earlier, this technique is not for every job because it takes more time. Did you look up Dr. Chalker-Scott's website yet? If not, please do. More info on the subject coming out this fall from Jim Flott, Spokane, WA Urban Forester, who pioneered the technique. He has received a grant to do field research with a University. This isn't just my idea, I'm learning like you. Neal

sheshovel
04-20-2005, 01:24 PM
I have read all the DR.s mith busters.Some of it I agree with and some I do not.Studies and reasearch in test conditions are not real life.As landscapers we have to also go with our expierience and gut.We have planted and maintained probably more live material than any of them put together.I like to learn new Ideas and methods too,but reasearch is what made the old methods popular too.What is proven the right way to plant by one is often proven wrong by another the next year.Look at the Heath tree food group we have all been taught for years and years and spouted by the scientists and reasearch studies.
Suprise !now they say that the food groups they put out are WRONG!Thease are top goverment and nutritional scientists were talking here OOOPS Sorry Wrong!!We have screwed up and made Americans fat ,so now we don't want you to eat all that bread and ceareals,and pasta we have told you is good for you.OOPS.
My point is,I don't always trust the experts.I will try my own expeirements with thease methods.But I have been planting for many years and have not seen any failure in my planting methods,besides a few weak plants or customer overwater.If I plant a plant or tree in your yard it is going to thrive and grow and have a good start and live.That's it period.I'm good and I and alot of others know what we are doing or we would have never survived our 1st year in this biz so you have to give us some respect for that and realize studies are not always the last word.

Coffeecraver
04-20-2005, 09:09 PM
.neal ...you actually think burlap will cuase root girdling?????? i see roots growing through cracks in concrete and breaking it, they grow through hairline cracks in sewer lines, and penetrate water lines... why on earth would you think they would not grow right through the many holes in the burlap, and in the 3-4 years it takes them to recover from the root prunung cuased by the digging, the burlap is rotted.

Natural or synthetic burlap is used on trees that are balled-and-burlapped (B&B). To determine which type has been used, hold a match to a small portion of the burlap. As a rule, natural burlap will burn and synthetic will melt.

Synthetic burlap will not decompose in the soil and can cause roots to girdle the tree. Because this could ultimately strangle the tree, remove synthetic burlap entirely. After pulling burlap away from the sides of the root ball, tip the root ball to one side and push the burlap underneath it as far as possible. Then tip the root ball to the other side and slide the burlap out from under it. The tipping should be performed by handling the root ball; pushing on the trunk of the tree could crack the root ball. When a wire basket is holding synthetic burlap in place, cut away the basket to remove the synthetic burlap, or, if the lower portion of the basket must be left intact, cut an "X" in the burlap in each section of the basket.

Natural burlap is biodegradable and can be left along the sides and bottom of the root ball, but should always be removed from the top of the root ball where it is subject to drying out. Dry burlap repels water, making it difficult to rewet the root ball. In poorly drained areas, remove the natural burlap entirely, if possible, to prevent it from holding too much moisture near the roots.
http://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheets/HGIC1001.htm
:)

Neal Wolbert
04-20-2005, 10:14 PM
Coffeecraver, BTW what is your fav. coffee? I'm totally addicted :-) The quote from the Univ. is a popular one, certainly the popular view. It doesn't answer the question about what is in the root ball, however. The thinking that the soil and the packaging material is somehow sacred leaves the planter in the dark about what is really contained in the B&B. The careful handling of the root ball with soil in it is necessary to prevent root damage by tearing if the soil fractures or drops off takiing some roots with it. Without the soil and packaging material, there is no chance that could happen. I've got a few pictures of root washed plants showing the root mass washed and spread out. A fairly small man can easily lift a 12'-15', 2" caliper tree over his head with one hand...all the roots intact and visible. No roots break off when the soil is washed off and gone. I'll send the photos along soon. Neal

YardPro
04-21-2005, 06:28 AM
Yardpro, Your first statement...don't see the need to look at the roots. How do you know whether there is girdling roots or circling roots if you don't inspect? How do you know if there is disease or damaged roots if you don't look? Don't you want to know if there is a problem? You're statement about sandy soils is well taken, roots need moisture no doubt, but I don't see how that relates to leaving the burlap on. Why not give the roots every chance to grow away from the stem by taking off the wrapping and redirecting them? If the nursery soil is sandy it should fall away easily so you can check the condition of the roots and rearrange them or prune as needed without much damage, if any. Washing should be done very gently. Feeder roots can take this treatment without problems...unless they are diseased and weak anyway. Do I think nurseries are purposely lying about the issue? Not sure, depends on the honesty of the grower...it can go both ways. I'm not trying to nail you or anyone else on this topic, I just deal with poor planting issues and plant failures every day, and most of them could have been prevented at planting. You sound very conscienscious and I appreciate that. I guess I don't understand the resistance against adopting a new way of doing things if it is a better way. Budget issues drive planting methods for sure, and like I said earlier, this technique is not for every job because it takes more time. Did you look up Dr. Chalker-Scott's website yet? If not, please do. More info on the subject coming out this fall from Jim Flott, Spokane, WA Urban Forester, who pioneered the technique. He has received a grant to do field research with a University. This isn't just my idea, I'm learning like you. Neal

neil

a field grown plant will very rarely have a root girdling problem, that is a container issue. And you will not see much fungal problems etc on a B&B plant, as the smaller roots that the fungus would affect are all cut off and left where the material was dug from.

you are not reading what i am writing, only what you want to hear..... the problem with material that is DUG FROM SANDY SOILS is that when you remove the supporting burlap all the dirt around the roots fall off, taking the capillary roots with it. these capillary roots are the only ones the plant has left to uptake water, as all the large ones are hardened off and no longer have a permeable membrane that water can pass through.

For every professor you quote that gives reasons to take it off, i can find an equal number that say leave it on.

and coffee.... i have yet to get material with synthetic burlap.... I can see there would be more reasons to take the synthetic off.