SIDNEY — The Shelby Soil & Water Conservation District’s tree seedling sale is again underway. A variety of hardwood trees including maple, oak, walnut, hickory, buckeye and linden are available. Small trees and shrubs include crabapple, highbush blueberry, cranberry, lilac and butterfly bush. Conifers (evergreens) available include redwoods, arborvitae, pines and spruces. The seedlings are bare root, two and three years old. The deadline for ordering is March 22. However, there are limited numbers of each species.
Well placed trees can add considerable value to a property. Trees add beauty, shade, protection from winter winds and provide wildlife habitat. Bare root seedlings are one of the least expensive methods of establishing trees – only $1.40 per tree. They are small, making them easy to handle. The limited root system makes planting them much easier. However, the tradeoff is that it takes a few more years for the tree to establish.
Some tips when planting small bare root seedlings: Pick the location for the seedling then match the species to the soil type. Make sure that the location fits the mature size of the seedling. That means don’t plant the shrub within two feet of the house when its mature width is five to six feet. Don’t plant trees that get 60 feet tall close to the house. Always plan for the mature height and width even if it will be years before it gets there. Also look overhead for utility lines and think about what may be below ground.
After the site has been selected, clear out the area around the site of any competing vegetation. The most common competing vegetation in a yard is grass. It’s impossible to control all the grass growing around a seedling with a lawn mower so the best step is to place mulch around the tree. It keeps lawn mowers and weed trimmers away from the bark. It helps keep the moisture in while eliminating the competing cover of grass. Remember that the seedling feeder roots are in the top six inches of soil, so by removing the sod around the seedling and mulching the area, the seedling has all the moisture and nutrients to itself. This helps to promote good early growth. Be sure not to place the mulch layer more than 2 to 3 inches deep and be sure that the mulch does not directly contact the bark of the new seedling. Of course, proper watering is important (typically the equivalent of 1-inch of rain per week is sufficient).
If you take care of a bare root seedling just as you would an expensive balled and burlap tree the chances of success are good. Matching the tree to the site and taking the proper care after planting are vital.
For more information, call the office, 937-492-6520 or stop in at 822 Fair Road, Sidney. The order form can be found at www.shelbyswcd.org or the Shelby Soil and Water Conservation District Facebook page.