Monday
Feb092009

FAQs

Q: How should I go about transplanting my new trees?

A: To improve your success, be mindful of these simple steps:

  • Plant your trees as soon as possible after their arrival at your chosen site. Larger trees should be planted using a tree-spade or augur, depending upon the size of the tree.
  • Cut off any exposed roots (if the tree is properly balled, this has already been done for you). Make sure the roots are straight down and deeply secured in the ground. Ensure the soil is firmly packed around the tree and eliminate any air pockets. Soak the tree root (ball) to ensure this is the case.
  • Leave the burlap wrapping tied to the tree until the roots have had a chance to grow and provide an “anchor” into the soil – usually one full season is sufficient for this to happen. Cut the rope or string tied around the base of the tree at that time.
  • Regular watering of a newly transplanted tree is critically important. Water every 3-4 days and allow the water flow to be a “trickle” rather than a torrent. You want moist soil not muddy soil.
  • The best time to plant a tree is in the Spring – the soil is moist and the roots will have a chance to get established over the course of the summer months. Trees planted in the Fall should be more heavily watered and staked. If you are planting in the Fall, it is recommended that you seek professional advice.
  • All transplanted trees go through a period of shock (limited growth in the first year). If you are concerned, discuss this with the specialist who sold you the trees. Different tree species adapt to this period of transplanting shock quite differently and this can be ameliorated through proper handling and tree care techniques.
  • Weed control after planting is important. Weeds compete with your tree for soil nutrients, moisture and fertilizer and therefore can affect the growth, if not survival, of the tree. Good weed control ensures more sunlight and less insect and disease problems.
  • The more care (appropriate fertilization, weed and pest control, water and proper pruning), the healthier your trees will be and the faster they will grow. Natural occurrences such as late frost, drought and disease can still impair the tree’s growth rate as well as the planting site you have chosen.
Monday
Feb092009

- - -

Q: I have a country property and would like to plant some good shade trees – what trees would you recommend?

A: There are a number of trees that you might consider, but these five would be among my recommendations:

  • Sugar maples – This is the granddaddy of Canadian shade trees, an excellent and sturdy native tree (zone 4). It is slow growing and recommended for open, spacious areas. Incredibly beautiful in the Fall with its various shades of yellow, orange and red, it has a majestic globe form that spreads almost as wide as it grows high, which can be to a height of 20 metres. And you might even try your hand at tapping maple syrup for your children or grandchildren. On the other hand, your children’s children might decide to cut it down for its prized hardwood in making a cabinet dedicated to your foresight.
  • Red maples – These native trees make a statement in the rural environment (zone 3). They are vigorous growers forming shapely, upright canopies with a good branching habit. Less spectacular than the Sugars, Red maples turn scarlet come Fall. Ideal for low-lying ground, there are a variety to choose from – Deborah, Rubrum and Native Reds. It is a rapid growing tree that can adapt to a wide range of soil conditions. While young, it is pyramidal in form, becoming rounded as it matures.
  • Honeylocusts – A strong, fast growing stately and distinctly symmetrical tree with small leaves that don’t cast heavy shade (zone 4). The dark green leaves hold till late fall when leaves turn yellow. The foliage keeps its beautiful appearance all summer. Virtually unknown 30 years ago, honeylocusts have become the new darling of the nursery trade. They can grow up to two feet annually and are virtually pest free.
  • Eastern White Pine – This is Ontario's official tree and is the tallest species in North America, reaching heights greater than 30 metres. They grow quickly (up to four feet/year) and add great colour and texture to anyy property. Best to plant small (6-8 feet) but not too small. Rarely needs pruning. 
  • Silver maples – The distinguishing feature of these trees is that they are very fast growing and hardy. I have planted them along my own roadway. They tolerate really tough conditions where other trees might fail. They have a very graceful habit with a silver-grey colour on the underside of the leaves and a distinctive grey bark. They do well in almost any soil and turn a rich yellow in the Fall.

See Our Trees for other zone-hardy varieties and descriptions of different tree characteristics (including Fall colours).

Thursday
Feb122009

- - -

Q: Can the value of planting trees actually be quantified?

A: There is a large body of evidence, gathered by acknowledged experts, regarding the benefits of trees to the quality of life. Among this research conclusions are these:

  • Landscaping can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 50 percent, by shading the windows and walls of a home.  — American Public Power Association
  • One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people. — U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. — U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Trees reduce air conditioning needs by up to 30 per cent by providing shade for homes and businesses. — Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Tree Atlas, September, 2013
  • If you plant a tree today on the west side of your home, in 5 years your energy bills should be 3% less. In 15 years the savings will be nearly 12%.  — Dr. E. Greg McPherson, Center for Urban Forest Research
  • A mature tree can have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000.  — Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers
  • In one study, 83% of realtors believe that mature trees have a "strong or moderate impact" on the salability of homes listed for under $150,000; on homes over $250,000, this perception increases to 98%.   — Arbor National Mortgage & American Forests
  • Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent.   — Management Information Services/ICMA
  • Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20 - 50 percent in energy used for heating.  — USDA Forest Service
  • Healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property's value."  — USDA Forest Service
  • The planting of trees means improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. This allows more recharging of ground-water supply. Wooded areas also help prevent the transport of sediment and chemicals into streams.   — USDA Forest Service
  • Trees aid in recovery from illness and stress reduction. In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension.   — Dr. Roger S. Ulrich, Texas A&M University
  • Trees absorb and store greenhouse gases from the atmosphere as they grow, making them an essential tool in the fight against climate change. — Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Tree Atlas, September, 2013

Moreover, MoneySense Magazine (May/2009, page 50) has this to say about your return on investment in planting a tree(s) on your property:

"No home improvement gives you more bang for your buck – or more enjoyment for your dollar – than planting a tree. A tree provides a visual exclamation mark to your house. It serves as a great place to put up a kid’s swing. Planted on the south, west or east side of your house, it even shades your roof and cuts your cooling costs. And it’s no slouch at sales time either. Surveys show that home buyers are willing to pay $7,000 more for a house that has a tree and a few hedges.

Sunday
Apr262009

Q:  Is there good value in buying trees from a conservation authority?

A:  Depends on how you define value.

Many years ago, acquiring tree stock from conservation authorities was a great value because the government heavily subsidized the planting of trees. The varieties available were generally limited but, in most cases, the trees were free. Now that is indeed value.

I went to a sale by a local conservation authority recently to investigate your question first hand. I did not examine the tree seedlings available as that is an entirely different issue (and, in any event, I would not advise purchasing seedlings from this source for a variety of reasons). Rather, my focus was on conifer and deciduous tree stock larger than 12 inches in height. 

The small conifer tree stock that I examined during my visit was definitely healthy and reasonably priced. Not a "bargain" in terms of what one might purchase at a local nursery but definitely good value. Given the early date (mid-April), the health of the deciduous stock could not be accurately determined, though I assume it was in good condition. The prices, however, were not.

Charging $18. for whips (some as small as 2-3 ft. in height) is not good value. But, for me, the real issue would be how long you want to wait to see your tree(s) reach a decent height where you can enjoy their beauty and functionality.

Value is entirely subjective. If you believe saving a few dollars while having to wait 10-12 years for the trees to reach a reasonable height (certainly not maturity), then you’ve determined the value of the purchase to you. Tree height is an important consideration if your objective is to landscape your property. If it’s to reforest an unused area, then it is clearly of lesser concern.

Leaving aside the fact that older trees are more likely to survive (better root structure and shape), I believe the real value of such a purchase lies in the immediate beauty and functionality of your newly acquired tree(s). While we plant trees for our children and theirs, being able to see and enjoy them for ourselves must surely also be a consideration. Therefore, paying a bit more (but not a lot more) for older, healthy tree stock is the way to go.