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Common Tree Planting Mistakes You Must Avoid

Correct or incorrect planting methods determine the overall growth of your trees. Read further to know the most common mistakes you must avoid while planting trees.
Important!
Do not add fertilizers or compost at the bottom of the planting hole, as it can burn the roots or cause damage by gases emitted from the compost. Add them to the soil on top after planting, ensuring they are spread away from the trunk.
Planting a tree and caring for it can be an intimidating as well as enriching experience. 

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There are innumerable things to be done to keep the plant alive and maintain healthy growth. But, there is no need to be wary about your limited knowledge about gardening and nursery skills as a few  tips will help you achieve success in your task.

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To know precisely what you should do while planting trees, it is important to know what not to do and eliminate those mistakes beforehand. And trust me, these are really the basic mistakes that can be easily avoided.
This will give you confidence to do the right things and won't damage the plant. So take a look at the following "not to do" things with illustrations and learn the right things from them.
Selecting an Unhealthy Plant
You may say that this is a pretty obvious thing and why is this mentioned here. You may say that this is a pretty obvious thing and why is this mentioned here.
However sometimes, we tend to overlook these obvious but important things while choosing a plant. If the bark of the plant you are selecting has cracks, cuts, or is discolored, then do not think of purchasing that plant.
The plant must have a single trunk and  strong, lateral branching for it to be healthy. Inspect the stems and buds for disease, injury, or insects. Leaves are good primary indicators of plant health and should not be of yellow or brown color.
Improper Root System
Healthy root system is equal to a healthy tree. The root ball should be of the appropriate size; for every inch of the tree diameter, the root ball should be 10 to 12 inches.
Look for girdling or pot-bound roots. If there are too many spiraling roots, they can be harmful for the tree, and hence, they need to be cut down before planting the tree.
If there are girdling roots wrapped around the trunk, even on one side, they should be removed as these roots can block the tissues responsible for water and oxygen supply to the tree and may lead to the death of the plant.
Improper Planting Location
Different species need different  locations and not being able to choose correct location may be harmful. Some soils are not conducive for some trees; so, having a soil test before finalizing the planting location is good.
This will help you determine soil pH and necessary fertilizers. The soil will affect  selection of plant species. If the site has heavy clay soil, you will need moisture-tolerant trees. If soil is extremely sandy, drought-tolerant trees would survive better.
Digging a Wrong Hole
A too deep or too narrow hole is unhealthy for a plant's growth. Digging a hole deeper than the root ball may result in drowning of the roots.
The tree should not be planted too deep in the soil, because when the stem that is above the root system comes in contact with the soil, it rots and results in death of the plant.
To avoid this, soil line on all trees--potted or bare-rooted--should be about 1 inch above the top lateral root of the plant. Moreover, if hole is dug too deep, the roots don't get enough oxygen supply, resulting in improper plant growth.
But a narrow hole won't allow roots to expand and support the plant firmly. This may weaken the tree and its ability to withstand unfavorable weathers. Ideally, planting hole for a tree should be twice as wide and deep as the root ball.
Improper Handling of the Plant
This is important as you will be handling the tree to transfer it from the container to a new place. The plant comes to you in three forms: (i) Bare root; (ii) Balled and Burlapped; and (iii) Container-grown.
These types are different and need to be handled differently while transplanting. Handling them wrongly may cause poor growth or death of the plant. Do not hold the plant by the trunk as it can get damaged; always pick it up by the root ball or the container.
When transplanting container-grown trees, separate them gently from the container; if that's difficult, cut away the container with gardening scissors or any other suitable tool.
While planting burlapped trees, decide whether you want to keep some of the burlap or remove it completely. The natural burlap will loosen up with time, but if it is plasticized, remove it right away completely.
The most delicate of all are the bare root plants and need utmost care while planting. They need to be planted as soon as possible while the roots are still moist.
Also, it is important to inspect the roots for several lengths of fine root hair. The color of the roots also plays an important role; they should be white in color and if they have a brownish shade, know that they are getting damaged.
Over Mulching
The main objective of mulching is to protect the roots of the tree and maintain moisture in the soil. 
It also protects the tree from harsh climatic conditions and promotes healthy establishment of the newly planted trees. Over mulching may create too much moisture around the tree and cause damage to the roots.
Inadequate mulching may cause less moisture, resulting in dryness around the roots. The type of mulch will depend on plant species and soil type. There are varieties of organic and inorganic mulches to choose from.

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Improper Watering
It has been found that most of the newly planted trees die because of too much watering than that is required. 

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In heavy clay soils, due to excess water, roots feel suffocated. Watering system depends on soil type and species, but there is a general method of watering. First watering session should be soon after planting, then  next day, and so on.
During summer, the balled trees planted in clay soils should be watered once in 7 to 10 days and if planted in sandy soils, should be watered once a week. Container-grown trees dry out faster in summer and need more water to stay healthy.
Not Staking the Plant
Staking is mainly done to anchor the root ball of the plant and not intended to restrict the movement of the stem or canopy. If the plant is not staked, it will amount to breakage of the newly developed roots and damage to the root ball.
This is mainly done to anchor the root ball of the plant and not intended to restrict the movement of the stem or canopy. If the plant is not staked, it will amount to breakage of the newly developed roots and damage to the root ball.
Certain small trees grown in protected areas may not need staking. Tall trees standing in high windy regions need to be staked. Researches have claimed that staking can damage the tree, if done properly, it gets useful.
Apart from theses factors, most crucial is to monitor the growth regularly. Walk around to identify the problems and fix them soon. Keep an eye on the weather changes, and be extra careful during harsh conditions.

 Snehal Motkar

May 10, 2021
Credits
Jed Owen, Jorien Loman