Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Curb Appeal: Plant a Tree

When considering curb appeal, most people instantly think of removing shrubs and trees.  However, when planted correctly and strategically, trees and shrubs can not only make your home more attractive, they may even save you money in the long run. 

And what better time to plant those trees and shrubs than now!  Fall is the best time to plant because the moisture levels and soil temperatures provide the perfect conditions for roots to grow deeply and establish a good foundation before the winter freeze.

Here’s How:
1. Select a tree that fits your yard as well as your needs. Consider its mature size, the shade it might cast on existing flowerbeds as well as your home.  At it's full size, the right tree can block the sun's rays in the summer (lower cooling costs) and allow the sun through in the winter (lower heating costs).  Also, keep in mind any nearby power lines or paved areas its branches and roots may disturb. Before digging, be sure to contact your local utility company to mark gas lines, water pipes, or underground cables.

2. Dig a hole as deep as the tree’s root ball and twice as wide. As you are digging, place the soil onto a tarp to protect your lawn throughout the planting process.

3. Mix organic filler into heavy clay or sandy soil, replacing up to one-half the volume of the excavated soil. Slice roots by scoring the sides of the root ball with a shovel, which will encourage new roots to grow.

4. Place your tree in the hole, replace some of the soil, and straighten the tree. Ensure that the trunk flare (where the first roots spread out from the base of the tree) is level with the soil line. Fill the hole, keeping the flare exposed. Add a ring of mounded soil 12 to 18 inches out from the trunk, creating a moat so water can soak into the roots.

5. Mulch with shredded bark, pine straw, or some other organic matter, beginning 3 to 5 inches away from the trunk.  Be sure to maintain the mounded ring shape. Water weekly during the first growing season (and during excessive dry heat in the summer)...a slow trickle for about an hour should do!

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