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Misplanted trees or normal practice

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by greenchoppers, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. greenchoppers

    greenchoppers LawnSite Member
    Messages: 162

    Hello group,

    We recently started mowing for a few bank branches. The bank branch in question is sitting atop a sand based (or at least mostly sand) hill with landscaped trees all around.

    My question is related to the planting of the trees. It appears that the installing landscaping contractor dug holes just big enough to accommodate the base of the tree (dirt and root clump for new trees) and then placed soil/sand around the edges of the tree.

    Well recenlty during a wind/rain storm, five of the trees blew down. We went to their rescue and found that none of the tree roots had grew into the ground and were still contained within the original tree base which is why they blew down to begin with.

    Is it normal practice for trees to be installed this way? We resecured a small Magnolia tree and it literally looked like a weeble wobble in the hole and was not sturdy until we retied it down.

    I have inserted a few pictures below for you to see.

    We are in south Louisiana and our climate is quite a bit different than most. These trees were planted about 1 1/2 years ago when the bank branch was built.

    I was thinking of reccommending to the bank that the trees be removed from their holes, holes bored deeper into the earth, trees reinstalled so they are below grass level, and then top soil/mulch on top of tree base. Is this the right corrective action?

    I appreciate your help.

    Kevin Babin
    Green Choppers.




  2. garnersgardening

    garnersgardening LawnSite Member
    Messages: 73

    You do NOT want to cover the crown of the plant. That will kill it. What you can do is get 3 T-Post for each tree and a heavy guage wire and secure them that way to keep them from blowing over. As far as the holes for the trees they should be dug just as deep as the root ball is and twice as wide. Use a mixture of 50% soil from the area and 50% organic matter added in and back fill the holes. As you put the soil in the hole pack it in then add more and pack some more. You want to build up the outer side to make a well that will serve as a water basin for the plant.
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    1 1/2 years is a long time for that few roots. A catch basin as stated is a good idea, in that is quite a slope. Mulch would maybe help some too.

    If this is clay you might want a sandy compost placed around the root ball. Does this tree grow a tap at all?
  4. betmr

    betmr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,663

    Digging lower than the root ball will allow the tree to settle and be too low, you want to set it on virgin (undisturbed) soil. When adding the new soil, try to mix some w/ the native soil to encourage roots to spread into the surrounding area.

    Also, you said the native soil is very sandy, this does not hold water well, and the roots may be staying in the ball because of this. I don't know how the moisture is there but you may need too water these tree more frequently till they are established.

    Put the posts in as directed before, but don't attach them too tightly to the trunk, and don't leave them longer than necessary. You don't want them to grow into the tree nor have the tree "depend" on them for stability. you just don't want them to blow over. If they move around some this will make the trunk stronger, and acclimate the tree to it's new home.

    And last, when you mulch, don't!! pile it up the trunk..= Crown Rot. Here in NJ these guys do it all the time, must be more money selling a little more mulch. I call them Jersey Volcanoes. Hope this helped you.
  5. Okiebug003

    Okiebug003 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 250

    3 t stakes per tree, and tie them down. This will solve your problem. Do not dig the hole deeper, this will kill them.
  6. Kate Butler

    Kate Butler LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 640

    I cannot tell from the pix - is the basket or the burlap still around the root ball? Some 'burlap' is plastic and will never degrade or allow roots to penetrate. If the basket was left in place it's possible that the rootball wasn't "opened up" (cut in verticals to encourage new roots). Lots of possibilities and all of 'em bad for the tree.
  7. Drew Gemma

    Drew Gemma LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,508

    the hole needs to be 3 times the size of the ball. Also soak the root ball and plant it bare root then you don't need to tie it down. you want the soil to be broken up and mixed so the roots can penetrate the soil. Once they hit the undisturbed soil they go into shock and growth will slow. Also prior to putting the root ball into the hole you should prune circling roots, or roots growing back into the ball. Atleast that is how we do it up here (North clay and topsoil mix).
  8. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Plant different trees along with removing the ball and burlap.

    A couple of weeping willows would work nicely there as they love water if the area gets water on a regular basis.
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2009
  9. betmr

    betmr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,663

    I notice they had stabilizing wires on there. They were not anchored well enough though cause they pulled loose, set them deeper. soil must be really loose there, with all the trouble they're having.

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