Trees and Shrubs
Consider: Planting Shrubs, Pruning Shrubs, Pruning Trees, Shrub Care, Tree Care, Tree Planting and Selection Tips, and Tree Removal.
Trees and shrubs are an important and valuable feature in any landscape. To put the ‘value’ in perspective, each mature tree over multiple decades delivers air filtration, soil creation, and habitats that would cost tens of thousands of dollars to replicate if man made machines needed to do the job. In addition to all of the intangible and unknown benefits from plants and animals on earth, here is the Return on Investment (ROI) on a Tree. Over the course of 50 years, a single tree can generate:
$31,250 of oxygen
$62,000 worth of air pollution control
$37,500 worth of water recycling
$31,500 worth of soil erosion control
For fast growing trees, check with your local nursery to see what works best in your region. For stump removal, you can often rent a stump grinder from a local home supply store. Naturally, you can also look to create a more artistic aspect of your yard by leaving the first three to eight feet of a tree trunk and having a local artist carve a sculpture as well.
What you need to know about trees:
#1 - Don't Top Trees!
Never cut main branches back to stubs. Many people mistakenly “top” trees because they grow into utility wires, interfere with views or sunlight, or simply grow so large that they worry the landowner. Unfortunately, the topping process is often self-defeating. Ugly, bushy, weakly attached limbs usually grow back higher than the original branches.
#2 - 1/3 and 1/4 Rules of Pruning
Never remove more than ¼ of a tree's crown in a season. Where possible, try to encourage side branches that form angles that are ⅓ off vertical (10:00 or 2:00 positions). For most species, the tree should have a single trunk.
#3 - How to Make a Pruning Cut
For Large Limbs: A: Make a partial cut from beneath. B: Make a second cut from above several inches out and allow the limb to fall. C: Complete the job with a final cut just outside the branch collar. For Small Branches: Make a sharp clean cut, just beyond a lateral bud or other branch.
#4 - The Value of Mulch
A tree's best friend, mulch insulates soil, retains moisture, keeps out weeds, prevents soil compaction, reduces lawnmower damage, and adds an aesthetic touch to a yard or street. Remove any grass within the mulch area, and area from 3 to 10 feet in diameter, depending on tree size. Pour wood chips or bark pieces 2 to 4 inches within the circle, but not touching the trunk.
#5 - Where Roots Really Grow
Because roots need oxygen, they don't normally grow in the compacted oxygen-poor soil under paved streets. The framework of major roots usually lies less than 8 to 12 inches below the surface. Roots often grow outward to a diameter one to two times the height of the trees.
#6 - Girdling Kills Trees
Girdling is any activity that injures the bark of a tree trunk and extends around much of the trunk's circumference. Such injuries, often caused by lawnmowers and weed trimmers, destroy the tree's most vital membranes, the layers that conduct water and minerals from the roots to the leaves and return the food produced by the leaves to the rest of the tree.
#7 - How to Plant a Containerized Tree
If a tree is planted correctly, it will grow twice as fast and live at least twice as long as one that is incorrectly planted. Ideally, dig or roto till an area one foot deep and approximately 5 times the diameter of the root ball. The prepared soil will encourage root growth beyond the root ball and results in a healthier tree.
#8 - How to Plant a Bare-root Tree
It is best to plant bare-root trees immediately, in order to keep the fragile roots from drying out. If you can't plant because of weather or soil conditions, store the trees in a cool place and keep the roots moist.
#9 - Your Street Trees May Be City Trees
If you live in a town or city, the trees near the street (often between the sidewalk and street), are probably city-owned. The city should have a program for planting and caring for these trees. You should support your city forestry program and encourage your town to be a Tree City USA.
Caring for your trees and shrubs
It takes years for trees to become an established feature in your landscape, and the following tips will help you keep those trees & shrubs healthy and beautiful.
Your newly planted tree will require regular watering to supplement rainfall until its roots become established. We recommend checking the root ball for moisture by probing the soil in the root ball. You can estimate dryness by inserting a metal probe into the soil. The drier the soil is, the more resistant it is to penetration. Digging with a small shovel works, too. Dig several inches deep and several inches away from the trunk after soaking to see how deeply the water has penetrated the soil. To water, let a hose run slowly at the base of the tree for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Move the hose to another location around the tree and repeat until the entire root ball has been watered. Provide extra water during drought.
Mulch applied judiciously around your trees and shrubs will benefit them in several ways. A 2- to 4-inch layer of wood chips, sawdust, compost or other organic material will act as insulation, conserve water and control weeds (more than 4 inches of mulch may cause problems for the root system). Maintain the appropriate depth by adding mulch as necessary, usually in spring and fall. Avoid covering the trunk with mulch; the mulch should not be any closer than 1 to 2 inches from the trunk. This will avoid damaging the bark at the base of the plant.
Protecting Tender Trunks
Protect the tender bark of young trees from rodent damage and sunscald by using tree wrap or guards. They are easy to use and can last for several years. Put the wraps and guards on the trees in late fall and remove in the spring.
Fertilizing for Faster Growth
Fertilize trees and shrubs at planting time with a starter fertilizer high in phosphorus. Once established, fertilize your plants once a year with a slow-release fertilizer at the drip line and beyond. The drip line is the area beneath the outermost branches. Feeder roots (the roots that take up water and nutrients) are present in this area and extend out even further. Fertilizing in this area is most beneficial for the plants.
Staking and Guying
Staking and guying can provide additional support, anchorage or protection to large trees and shrubs planted in open, windy sites. Avoid staking too rigidly -- allow the tree or shrub some movement. Remove stakes or guys after one growing season. In most cases, unstaked trees develop a stronger trunk than staked trees.
Pruning provides clearance and removes diseased, dying or dead branches and limbs that are crossed or rubbing against each. Your new tree shouldn't require pruning unless a branch is damaged. However, pruning during the next few years is critical to develop a strong branch structure for future growth. Select scaffold branches that are at least 18 inches apart and evenly distributed around the trunk. Maintain a single leader for as long as possible, and avoid allowing branches to grow directly above one another. Make pruning cuts just outside the branch collar near the base of a branch. Prune in the winter or very early spring.
When pruning shrubs, cut off any damage that may have occurred during shipment. Further pruning is not necessary until after the first year. Many shrubs look their best in their natural form. Avoid cutting back all the branches to correct uneven growth. Cut overgrown branches completely back to the main stem or to a side branch. This avoids excessive height, yet keeps a pleasing, well-trimmed form.
Remove shoots that develop from the roots and on the bottom 12 inches of the trunk. Cut suckers off at ground level or at the trunk.
Finishing off your landscape is like putting the decorative frosting on a cake. Steel edging around planting beds and borders separates mulch from lawn areas and gives a professionally finished look. Use flagstone to finish off the edges of water gardens or to create paths and stepping areas within the landscape. Draw attention to particular areas of the landscape with contrasting decorative mulches.
The right home improvement products, techniques, and services:
Contractors, home improvement stores, and specialty shops in your area may not yet have a complete familiarity with the ‘green’ opportunities, products, system integration, and overall savings potential. So, you may get some resistance, since people in general are typically more comfortable recommending something that they are already familiar with rather than something new. To help break the inertia, use the information across this website like our Return on Investment Master ROI Table. Also feel free to post a question in our forum on the message board about a particular need for your home relative to your area. Our team has spent multiple years aggregating research from public and private sector performance reports and from manufacturers and homeowners across the country in order to provide you with the perspective you may need to see the initial payback and long term advantages. Environmental enthusiasts and leading institutions like the American Institute of Architects and the National Association of Realtors, see the value and link into our resources to support their members.
The Green Home:
For your overall home improvement, you can save money, improve your family’s health, and save the planet. Find out for free how much it will cost to do different types of home improvement in your home from a qualified and member approved contractor in your area. Get a FREE Quote . Plus, regardless of the size and scope of your home improvement project, save money and keep your home clean with the top rated chemical free and concentrated Green Home Cleaning Products.
Home Improvement Basics:
When it comes to home improvement basics, look for interior home improvements like creating a clean, safe, and healthy home through sustainable ‘green’ furniture, home décor, zero VOC and Interior Paint, plus ENERGY STAR Appliances and Electronics. For energy and utility savings you can focus on insulation and air sealing, windows, doors, lighting and skylights, water saving plumbing opportunities, and high efficiency heating and air conditioning systems. On the outside of your house, look for exterior home improvement opportunities through landscape design and gardening plus solar energy, wind and other power sources. If you are undertaking a major home renovation, an additions, or building a new home, then take the lead to ‘go green’ in as many ways as possible to save money and the environment.