Beautify Your Garden with Specimen Trees
When you are choosing a tree for your garden, you should be mindful of the height and spread of the tree once it has finished growing. If you make the wrong decision, your tree may well become crowded and in most suburban gardens the appearance will be ruined. This is especially so with specimen trees, so resist the temptation to purchase that lovely looking tree from the catalog until you are certain of its suitability for your garden.
The most inexpensive way is to plant trees whilst they are still young. A more mature tree is much more expensive and can be extremely difficult to position, often requiring professional help. If you do really need a big tree immediately as in the case of hiding an eyesore or for privacy from prying neighbors, then it may be worth the expense. You should understand that what you are purchasing when you choose a mature tree is the time it has taken to grow.
There are products that will allow you to transplant a large tree whilst it is fully leaved. They seal the leaves to prevent moisture loss and reduce transplant shock, allowing the roots to develop a purchase in the soil. It is expensive, though and the tree can still suffer. It is better to plant a tree in early spring or winter whilst it is still dormant. A tree over 6 feet will benefit from having its root ball wrapped in sackcloth or placed in a large container before it is put into its new position.
Correct soil preparation is essential for the health of the tree. The soil must be fertile and a hole dug at least 2 feet in depth and 1 foot wider in diameter than the root spread. Any compacted soil at the bottom of the hole should be broken up with a fork and mixed with soil conditioning matter such as loam, peat or leaf mould. The position of the tree is important as well and you need to take into account how large the tree and its roots may get. Ensure that any out buildings such as summerhouse, log cabins and sheds are well away from where the tree may grow to.
Do not place manure or other fertiliser into the hole as it will burn the roots. Instead, it should be spread over the top of the hole once the tree is in position, to allow the nutrients to leech into the soil. Make sure that the hole is free from building detritus or clay and if necessary, “import” good quality garden soil to replace it. This is important, because once the tree is in position, you will not be able to treat the soil under the root system.
If the tree you are planting is a seedling that is not containered or wrapped in cloth, it is advisable to use a procedure known as “heeling in” to keep it whilst it is dormant. This means that you simply place the dormant plant on its side in an unused part of the garden, covering the roots with soil. Be sure that when the time comes to plant the seedling on, you give the roots a thorough “mud bath”, to prevent any air from damaging the root system.
Settle any loose soil at the base of the hole by “flooding ” it and allow the water to drain. Place the tree in the hole and backfill around it with soil. Once the plant it in position and the hole is filled to its required depth, “flood” the area with water again as this will assist in removing any air pockets. Ensure that the roots are spread evenly around the diameter of the hole before this. Firming down the soil is important, but don’t over compact it as this will prevent water from reaching the root system.
Many nurseries grow specimen trees in heavy loam that has been wrapped in a type of sack known as burlap. This is called “balled-and-burlapped”. Such a specimen needs to be planted at a slightly lower level than in the sacking. Soil preparation is as before with the hole dug approximately twice the size of the root ball. The tree should be planted as soon as it is partly unwrapped. If the soil in the hole is dry, thoroughly soak it and allow it to drain away before the tree is planted. It is not necessary to remove the burlap completely as it will eventually rot away, although approximately 3-4 inches should be cut and pulled away from the top.
In plant care it is advisable to cut back some of the growth from the tree when it has been planted. Usually, this is about one-third of the growth. Dracaena trees, for instance, require some form of supporting structure to prevent wind damage, but this should not be so tight as to cause damage to the limbs.
Cultivating the soil around the trunk during the first year should be done regularly, taking care to remove any weeds and cover the bare soil around the trunk with mulch and manure, taking care that it does not come into contact with the trunk. The mulch suppresses weeds and in turn helps with moisture retention.
Pruning Your Garden Trees Regularly Will Improve Their Growth
To keep your garden trees looking good, most varieties will need to be pruned regularly.
Your trees will reward you 1000% next season with stronger growth and an abundance of flowers and fruit.
The lack of annual pruning causes flowering and fruit trees to produce small fruit and a poor show of flowers.
Required tools are gloves, knife, saw and secateurs.
Try and imagine how you would like the tree to look after is has been pruned and note the major branches that need removing.
The first thing to do is to identify the main branches of the tree that make up its main “skeleton”. You must avoid removing these branches as they form the backbone of the tree.
You should remove the branches that are parallel to one another, this will allow enough space between each branch allowing them to develop, and the main thing is to leave only the ones that enhance the shape of the tree.
Inward growing branches should be removed, as they will prevent air circulating in the centre of the tree and spoiling its shape.
When trees become too tall they may need to be lowered, before you start cutting stand back and take stock imagining how high you want the tree to be after you have finished.
If the tree has become too tall you can cut it down to the level you require, it would be best to do this before you start shaping the tree, although this will probably mean taking out the leader in order to lower the tree structure.
After cutting off larger branches you should paint the cut ends with a special tree paint that you can buy from your local garden shop.
Dead and dying braches should always be removed whatever the season, as they could cause disease if left.
Any dead or dying braches should be cut off with a shape saw, you can cut this out at any time of the season as it is best out of the way, don’t forget to paint the cut branch ends.
Always dip the blades of you pruning tools in a solution of bleach to sterilise them and prevent the spread of disease from one tree to another. As the trees sap can carry disease.
Most branches have a collar at the base of the branches, you should leave this, enabling the cut to heal over and prevent any disease getting in and killing the tree.
Shade trees need reshaping and thinning from time to time, the redesigned trees will offer better shade in the summer, do not cut them too low or you will not get the benefit of the shade you requires in the summer.
If you have fruit trees in your garden it is always best before you start pruning trees to collect all the fallen leaves and old fruit that may contain disease and destroy them, giving the three a better start in the spring.
Woody plants absorb more water than they can use to obtain the necessary amount of mineral substances contained in it; the excess is eliminated by the process known as transpiration. This takes place in the leaves and consists of the evaporation of water, regulated to a certain degree by a system of pores that can be opened or closed.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide is the tree’s main source of food. Together with water and by the means of chlorophyll and radiant energy from the sun it is processed by the leaf cells into organic compounds that go into building the major part of the tree’s organs. This process is known as photosynthesis.
The amount of water transpired by trees into the atmosphere is very great and varies not only according to the size and species of the plants but also according to the conditions of the environment – soil moisture, relative humidity of the air, temperature, strength of the wind, etc.
When the leaflets are arranged laterally in pairs on the main leaf stalk, the leaf is termed pinnately compound.
There may be an odd number of leaflets with one located at the tip (terminal leaflet), e.g. the mountain ash, common ash, false acacia (black locust); or an even number of leaflet pairs, e.g. the honey locust and the like.
In some species with large leaves the leaflets are divided even further and these are called bipinnately compound leaves, e.g. the honey locust or Kentucky coffee-tree.