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I have been doing Grounds Maint. for 3 years now and This year I started doing some installs. Anyway I have a customer who wants several trees planted they have A hugh root ball wraped in burlap Do I need to take the burlap off or leave in on?
 

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Your going to want to leave the burlap on but cut the strings on it so that eventually the roots of the tree will just push it off etc. Dig a large enough hole and put peat moss all around the sides of the hole and then mix some in with the backfilling dirt. Make sure that ur tree base/ball will not be above ground at all. A little below ground is better. Take the hose and as if you were going to take a drink out of it with no nozzle sit it right at the base of the tree and let it run for 15 mins. Tell the homeowner they must continuily water the tree probably two times a day for 2 or 3 weeks. Depending on the temperature so it won't dry up. Any more questions just ask me.

Jeff
 

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Actually, you want to dig the hole a bit shallow. You want for the hole to be similar in shape to a bowl. Probably about 2x the size of the root ball. Do not amend the soil at all, unless you are going to do that to the whole area. You want to plant the tree slightly high, because the soil underneath it will settle. Cut the string, and remove it. Take the burlap and loosen it, roll it off the top. Do your best to cut away the wire cage. Also look for any girdling roots and get rid of those now.
 

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I like to dig the hole about a foot to a foot and a half deeper than necessary and then fill it back in before planting. This makes sure there are no obstructions too close to the root ball when it begins to spread out. It also makes sure the soil is not too compacted. Don't leave it too loose though, but it won't be packed in like it was. Also, if it's like it is around here, solid clay after about a foot down, you may want to add some good soil. Also if there is a wire around the root ball, I cut that off before planting and if needed add twine to hold the root ball together when planting. This will make it so that when you cut the twine after it's in the hole, you can just leave it there. You don't want to leave the wire there if you can help it. Although it will break down eventually, it will take years longer than the twine.
 

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1st. - If you can wait, purchase and plant the tree in the fall. If you buying a B&B tree in July it was most likely dug in the spring or last fall and is already stressed out.

2nd. - Most studies show that B&B trees don't need amended soil.

3rd. Cut the top of the burlap back after the tree is planted. Also, don't leave any of it exposed or it will act as a wick and dry out the roots.

4th. If it has a wire basket, leave it on. Wire baskets are used on large trees that need the help holding the root ball in tact. After a few years the wire will rust away and it won't get in the way of the root development.

5th. I don't advise digging the hole any deeper than the root ball. Most likely it will settle and the tree will be too low. Then, root rot and lack of water become an issue.
 

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ditto what Brentlent said. I've planted several hundred and lose very very few. We do it just the way he said.

ditto also buying the tree this fall .... add the fact that most nursery stock is well picked over. Only the scraps are left.

Good Luck
 

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I could just copy and paste brent's post for that is exactly what Cornell recommends. Adding that you dig the hole twice the width.

Also tree stakes are not necessary, for in fact you want some sway with the winds. It actualy makes the tree stronger. Unless you are planting what I see our town plants. Trees 8 - 10' tall, root ball the size of a 5 gallon bucket. Those will blow over with just a breeze.
 

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Digging the hole deeper is just from my own personal experience, and has worked very well for me. I decided to this when I ran into problems a couple of times after I planted trees and they did not do well. When I was replacing the trees I found that just a couple of inches under where I dug was a ledge on one and some really compacted clay and large rocks. I only found this when I dug deeper after having the problems. So now I dig a little deeper on every tree, of course I fill it back in to the right height and pack it down enough not to have issues with it settling. I have not run into the problems since. I think of it as being proactive. My main concern is making sure the soil underneath the new tree is good enough. I really hate replacing trees, hopefully I won't have to do it again... so far so good...
 

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I always leave the burlap and wire basket on but just fold back the burlap on the top to the sides. Second i never amend the soil i always put back what came out of the hole. I NEVER plant the tree deeper than the rootball. If anything i plant it between 2 and 4 inches above the ground so the tree wont ever drown plus when i mulch around it the mulch never gets above the crown of the tree because if you cover the crown it will later lead to trunk decay from the excess moisture in the mulch and later diseases.
 

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does anyone use peat moss in/around the hole or in the soil to be backfilled with? we use it all the time and lose very few trees. the soil around here has a high clay content.

used to use a starter fertilizer called Agriform. came in large a tablet form. dont use it anymore. apparently high amounts of nitrogen can damage the root systems on young or freshly transplanted trees.
 

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What timing on this thread! I had a client last week ask me to replace some dead bushes. Sure. Go over, give estimate, set date to do work. Every bush (Burning Bush) still had the burlap on. I showed the owner the bushes and he said that he would have thought the burlap would have rotted off by now, since the bushes were planted 5 years ago! The problem is that the burlap used these days is treated to prevent rot so the root balls don't fall apart in the nursery yard. Do yourself (and your customer) a favor - remove all burlap, twine, and baskets. I can't begin to count how many trees I've replaced with wire baskets still on. I've planted literally thousands of trees and shrubs and I can't recall the last time I've had to replace one that died.
 

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It depends on the grower. In TN we have many local growers and very few use treated burlap. I've transplanted 6 month old trees that only have a few strips left. Then again they do need water to breakdown (on for the plant to survive)

Regarding removing the wire basket.... How does one take off the basket and burlap on a 3" cal. tree (Aprox. 400 +pounds) without disturbing the root ball?

I see many landscapers flying down the highway with their plants flapping in the wind (or a loose tarp). Dig the hole 10 times as wide and your still going to loose them. Also, I'm very careful not to drop the ball on the ground.

Sometimes you can do everything right and still loose plants. That's why you mark them up and escrow some of profits from each job in a replacement fund. I planted (4) 3.5" cal. red oaks to replace very large hardwoods that were lost in a tornado. I dug the old roots out with a backhoe, filled with a mixture of topsoil and planting mix , added root stimulator and Mycorrhizal and still lost everyone of them. After speaking with the grower, he said they were drought stresses the previous yr. Drought can have an effect on field grown plants a yr. or more later.

Bottom line, your dealing with living material, expect some loss.
 

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Brentlent - I remove the basket with wire cutters once the tree is in the hole before backfilling. I also back fill with what came out of the hole - no amendments, only a root enhancing fertilizer, such as ROOTS. Also, since my area is mostly clay, I will only plant trees grown in clay. Why? Dig a hole in clay, fill with topsoil, peat, whatever. Check it once a week and see how much water is in the hole. Water will migrate fron the surrounding clay soil into the hole where the topsoil/peat is because it is the path of least resistance. Most folks water the trees after install, but the water will not migrate to the surrounding clay soil. It will sit there and rot the tree roots. I find over watering to be an issue when replacing trees, and I suspect that may have been what happened in your case, although I can't be sure because I don't know what type soil you have. I agree with your views on markup for replacement. In fact, I offer a LIFETIME warranty on plants that I install and have yet to have anyone ask for a replacement. The money in the "fund" provides me with a healthy bonus at year's end. Good luck!
 

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Somewhere recently I read about how most of the time, trees are planted too deeply ...even by experienced landscapers. I wish I could remember where I saw the article...maybe it was in one of our trade magazines. Planting s too deep is the single most frequent reason that trees die. As NCSULandscape said above, I like to have the TOP of the root ball a couple inches above the surrounding soil level. I dont remember the last time we lost a tree. As far as soil amendments, we add a little leaf compost to the native soil out of the hole.
 

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GarPa - yes, you are correct. I run into trees that have been planted too low in the ground. I generally leave mine a couple of inches above the existing grade also.
 

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My boss at work swears by completely removing the burlap and wire basket even though every person i've talked to around here says to leave it on.. Fine with me but the only way we do this happens to destroy the root ball...but by the time you're done all you have is a piece of wood...no dirt so we plant the tree in the dirt from the root ball then tie it up. We've lost 1 out of 4 trees from doin that...He thinks its still in shock. Dweeb...not my loss. i get paid hourly! :D

I've always planted trees with everything still on. The wire basket i snip in 4 vertical lines to allow it to expand with the growing roots. the burlap i completely cut off the top and then slice along the sides before back filling. Leave the crown of the tree slightly above ground level and do NOT put dirt over it...just mulch and water...how i do it anyway. never lost a tree.
 

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Originally posted by brentlent
Bottom line, your dealing with living material, expect some loss.
As a professional i expect NO loss at all and have accomplished that for over 2 years, except for 1 plant which was killed due to a dog digging it up.
 
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