The Q&A Archives: Planting new Cleveland Select pear and pink dogwood tree

Question: I live in Lafayette, IN which is outlined as zone #5. In about a week I will plant 9 Cleveland Pear Select trees and one beautiful little pink dogwood tree. I will plant these trees out in front of my home and I will rent a bobcat with a 30

Answer: I think you're wise in doing some research prior to planting and planning on taking your time when planting. If you plant carefully, your trees should thrive.

Landscape trees and shrubs should go into native, not amended soil. If you amend the soil with organic matter, the trees will sink as the organic matter decomposes. Plus, if you amend the planting area, you'll encourage the roots to remain in the rich amended soil rather than exploring outward and anchoring the tree. The bottom line - use only native soil, not amended soil.

You may not need an auger to dig the holes. I guess it depends upon how large the rootmass is, but an 8-10' tree should be easy to transplant into a hand dug hole.

To plant, dig a hole slightly deeper and slightly wider than the nursery container the tree is already in. Rough the soil up at the bottom and along the sides of the hole. The idea is to plant it so that it will be at the same soil level as it was growing in the nursery container. If you plant too deep you risk suffocating the roots and causing rot on the bark of the trunk; if you plant too shallow, the roots will work their way up to the surface of the ground and not anchor the tree very well. So, dig a hole and then set the nursery container in it to make sure it is the right depth. Once you're satisfied with the size of the hole, lay the tree on its side and ease the nursery pot off the roots (it helps to have two people for this process). After removing the pot, gently loosen the roots with your fingers. You don't want them growing around and around in a circle, but spreading out in a natural fashion. After that's done, you can pile a little soil at the bottom of the hole (so it looks like a volcano) and then drape the roots over the mound of soil so they lay in a natural fashion. Then backfill the hole and around the sides with the soil you removed from the hole.

Don't add fertilizer to the hole. You want the roots to settle in before the tree starts growing - fertilizer will force the top to grow, regardless of whether the roots can sustain the growth.

After backfilling and gently tamping down the soil, water your tree well. This will help settle the soil. At this point you might want to use the leftover soil to build a berm around the trunk - make a berm about 12" from the trunk (called a water well). This will help hold water and allow it to trickle down and wet the entire rootmass.

You'll want to water deeply once each week for the entire growing season to help the roots of your trees become well established. Fill the water well, allow to drain, then fill it a second time. Do this once each week and your trees should thrive.

You can feed your trees next spring with an 8-8-8 fertilizer.

Hope this information is helpful. Best wishes with your new trees!

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