In the past two weeks I have planted over 45 trees. The picture to the left is of one of those plantings in Fair Lawn, NJ. An unfortunate trend in our industry is that landscapers plant the trees and the arborists maintain them after they establish. The trend is wrong because most of the problems that arborists face come from poor and improper planting. Most tree defects stem back to planting problems, and could have been avoided if proper care was taken. Certified Arborists or Certified Tree Experts, have a superior knowledge of tree biology, so why do landscapers plant and not tree guys?
There are a lot of circumstances in tree planting that are overlooked by normal consumers and untrained tree or landscape professionals. When you purchase a tree from a nursery or a plant provider the trees do not come perfect. You cannot just throw it in the ground and expect it to grow. For instance, if you buy a B&B (Balled & Bur-lapped) tree from a nursery, the burlap wrapped around the tree’s root system is meant to protect it and hold dirt in place around the root ball. The burlap is a great help in limiting the damage of the root system during transportation. When the tree(s) reach their planting destination the burlap should be removed so the roots have a place to grow. In my professional experience, the trees that are left with the burlap on the root ball only last a few years, maximum. After a few months the transplanting shock will begin to weaken the tree(s) and insects or disease begin to attack the weakened tree(s).
So am I just attacking landscapers? No, I am trying to educate people so landscapers and tree care professionals have to perform their duties properly. Here’s another example. I recently took over my sister’s landscaping at her house. I began to notice that the ornamental trees that she has covering her property did not look the way they should. So I began my investigation. The first tree was a Lace-leaf Maple (Acer palmatum dissectum). The tree had significant dieback and looked thin. So I began to dig down to see if I could find the root flair. after about 4 inches of mulch, and another 4 inches of soil, I found the burlap! It was still tied around the tree, and there was no attempt to remove it. I removed what I could with my little pocket knife and moved onto the next tree. This tree had the same problem of being buried way to deep and having the burlap still tied around at the base. Over 15 trees on her property were the same way and set up for failure. My sisters previous landscaper did not search for the cause, they just continued to trim out the dead branches.
I’ll sum up with this. I love trees. When I plant them I want to be able to look back at the trees in 10-20 years from now. Those trees should continue to survive, long after I have left this earth. I never plant trees for quick cash. I plant trees to better out planet and give the next generation the joy trees have given me.