to burlap or not?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by i_plant_art, Apr 15, 2005.


do you take burlap off when planting shrubs/trees

Poll closed Apr 22, 2005.
  1. Yes, i take it off

    10 vote(s)
  2. No, I leave it on

    14 vote(s)
  3. Burlap? Ain't that for potatos?

    1 vote(s)
  1. i_plant_art

    i_plant_art LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 558

    Just curious how many of you out there plant with the burlap on the plants and who takes it off when planting.
  2. Coffeecraver

    Coffeecraver LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA.
    Messages: 793

    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.

  3. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    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.
  4. grass_cuttin_fool

    grass_cuttin_fool LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,526

    I have done it both ways, I havent seen any difference in either way
  5. Grassmechanic

    Grassmechanic LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,697

    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.
  6. Duramax99

    Duramax99 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 203

    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
  7. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570


    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.
  8. Neal Wolbert

    Neal Wolbert LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 407

    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
  9. Coffeecraver

    Coffeecraver LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA.
    Messages: 793

    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.

  10. Grassmechanic

    Grassmechanic LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,697

    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.

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