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The Importance Of Trees

Mark Tregoweth
Mark Tregoweth

With cooler days and wet weather upon us the time is right to get many species of trees and shrubs established before summer.

An integral part of any garden, trees and shrubs add to the shape and structure of our landscape.

While their importance cannot be denied the cost of including them in a garden design is often significant. For this reason it is important to take precautions when planting them to ensure your investment will survive.

Before rushing to a garden centre to make a purchase put some thought into the space you have available and what type of tree or shrub will complement your garden.

A common mistake made is planting species that grow too large for the location they have been placed in.  Taking time to look at what will best suit a garden comes down to a little research and consulting experts for advice. Gardening books written specifically for New Zealand readers, research on the Internet and the advice of garden centre professionals will help to narrow down the list of possibilities.

In general trees and shrubs fall into two main groups;

Deciduous species which lose their leaves during autumn and winter.

Evergreen species which retain their leaves throughout all seasons.

With a list of suitable trees or shrubs, in mind take the time to look at the shape of specimens available when shopping.  Invisage where they are going to be planted and what they will offer your garden before making a purchase.

Avoid specimens that appear to be root bound. Specimens with large protruding roots or with masses of roots growing from the bottom of a planting bag may require further attention. In many cases root bound trees or shrubs will never flourish so if you have any concerns ask for assistance before you make a purchase.

In most cases as soon as a tree is purchased and taken home they should be planted in their permanent site in the garden.

When this is not possible store them in a sheltered shady area away from the wind.  When immediate planting isn’t possible maintain regular watering to keep roots moist or heel in soil in a temporary space.

For novices planting a tree may appear as simple as digging a hole and sticking the tree in it but for skilled gardeners success comes from creating the right environment.

Digging a generous hole larger than the width of the root ball will allow the roots to spread out and grow. The depth of a hole should be deep enough to sufficiently cover the roots but not to deep so as to collect water and leave tree to drown.

Where heavy or clay soils are unavoidable add good quality compost or topsoil to a hole before planting and dig in thoroughly to ensure your tree will have the best opportunity to grow and develop.

Staking is also an important step that should be tackled at the time of planting. Rather than trying to force a stake through roots at a later date a stake that is carefully placed beside a tree at planting will allow roots to grow around it while it provides support.

Firmly insert a stake into a hole before planting. The stake should be positioned on the side of the tree, which will be affected by prevailing winds to offer maximum support. Tie the tree to the stake with a soft flexible materials and check regularly to ensure ties remain intact.

For frost tender species provide shelter to ensure survival in colder weather and add mulch around the base of plant to help retain moisture and avoid over watering during winter.

While the chill of winter may limit the amount of time spent in the garden the time is right let trees and shrubs get established before summer heat arrives.

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