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Fall is a great time to plant trees!

Updated: Dec 4, 2018

Over the next few weeks you will see new trees being planted around Newburyport – it is fall planting time for the Newburyport Tree Commission and Friends of Newburyport Trees.

Fall is a great time to plant trees as a home owner. Often nurseries are offering discounts so that they do not have to overwinter trees. The cooler weather means that the soil stays moist longer and often the trees do not undergo as much of a transplant shock as in the late spring/summer.

Trees can be planted through the end of October as the roots will continue to grow until mid-December or when ground freezes. The roots then remain dormant until March; as the earth begins to warm, the roots begin to grow before the air temperature signals spring.

When planting, the hole should be as deep as the soil ball but twice as wide. Container grown trees often have circling roots and the ball needs to be opened and the roots untangled. Other trees come as B&B (ball & burlap), the wire cage and the burlap need to be removed at the time of planting. Often these trees have had the soil pushed up around the root flare. It is important to pull the soil gently away from the tree trunk until you find the flare at the base of the tree and the top roots. Sometimes the flare and the top roots will also need to be exposed in the container grown trees.

Why is it important to expose the tree flare? Air exchange occurs at the base of the tree and the larger top roots form the major support system for the tree. If these roots are buried, the tree will begin to put out a new root system that will never be as strong and the original roots will slowly die. The flare and the top roots need to be exposed to the air – better to plant the tree an inch too high than too low.

Water the tree when the hole is half filled with soil and let drain. Then finish putting the soil and mulch lightly – not letting the mulch touch the bark. Mulching to the drip line of the new tree will protect it from damage from weed whackers or lawn mowers.

Water your new tree every 4-5 days for the first two weeks and then at least once a week until the cold weather arrives. A long slow trickle of water is the best way to water. If December/January is unusually warm and dry, take five gallons of water out to the tree. The tree will need to be watered in its first two seasons – a gator bag can help during the summer months.

A healthy urban forest combats climate change, helps clean the air we breathe, cools temperatures in the summer, increases property values and make a more beautiful Newburyport.

A tree is a gift to yourself, your clients, your neighbors and your city!! Learn more at:

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