The benefits of planting deciduous trees on your landscape are truly endless. Not only do they add undeniable beauty to your yard with lovely spring flowers and stunning fall foliage, but they're also functional additions. Their large canopies provide both shade and privacy, which can even shelter your home and reduce your energy bill in the summer. They provide a home for wildlife, and some also attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Deciduous trees improve your home's curb appeal, and even increase your property value! With all of these wonderful benefits, here's how you can plant more leafy friends in your own garden.
WHEN TO PLANT DECIDUOUS TREES
Deciduous trees can be planted during two seasons of the year—in spring after the ground has thawed, and in the fall, before the ground freezes. The moderate temperatures and generous amount of rainfall in spring and autumn help new plants to establish their roots, whereas the more extreme conditions of winter and summer aren't as conducive to new growth. While it's possible to plant them during the summer, it takes excessive amounts of watering to keep them healthy.
COMMON DECIDUOUS TREES
The very first step to tree planting is finding one to plant. Many native deciduous plants grow well in Allentown and can beautify your landscape with ease. Here are some common deciduous trees and why we love them so much:
Dogwoods: Flowering dogwoods are incredibly popular because they have something to give in every season of the year. Their showiest season is in spring when their branches are adorned in an abundance of white or pink blossoms. In the fall, their glossy green leaves turn stunning shades of purple and red, which pairs nicely with their scarlet red berries. Plant dogwoods in full sun to partial shade, in moist but well-drained soils. We carry a variety of white and pink flowering dogwoods in our nursery.
Maples: Maples are best known for their distinctly-lobed leaves and their stunning fall color palette. They range from small shrubs to large trees, so make sure you check how large your maple is expected to grow before picking a spot for it. Maples can grow in full sun to partial shade, and can often tolerate moist conditions more so than other species—perfect for your Pennsylvania garden. That being said, they don't do well in drought, so make sure you keep them well-watered during dry periods in the summer.
Redbuds: Another spring-flowering species, redbuds provide stunning, vibrant color to your yard. The lilac-pink blooms of the popular Eastern redbud cover its branches and trunk—attracting both butterflies and the eyes of all your neighbors! Redbuds grow in full sun to part shade and tend to be pretty adaptable, but prefer moist, well-drained soils. Eastern redbuds can get pretty tall, but we also carry a smaller variety with beautiful, weeping branches that and lavender-pink flowers that attract hummingbirds.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT LOCATION
We know how exciting it is to haul home a new tree, and how eager you are to get it into the ground, but picking the right spot is perhaps the most crucial step of the planting process. This spot is going to be your plant's permanent home. Taking the time to plan for your new addition now will save you from excessive care requirements or having to relocate it in the future.
Right now, your tree is likely only a fraction of the size that it's going to become. When you're choosing a spot, make sure to consider its mature size and shape. This goes for both above and below the ground—not only should you look for power lines and other objects above, but make sure the root system won't interfere with your house's foundation or underground pipes when they begin to grow. You may want to contact the City of Allentown before digging any deep holes.
You should also consider the needs of the tree itself—does it like to soak up direct sunlight? Or is it an understory variety that appreciates some dappled shade? Will it do well with excess water from runoff, or would it prefer the drier soils at the top of a hill? You'll have a happier, healthier tree when you account for these things!
HOW TO PLANT A DECIDUOUS TREE
Once you've decided on the perfect place, it's time to start diggin'! First, clear the area of any grass or weeds that'll compete with your new plant for water and nutrients. If you're working with poor soils, amend the area with organic matter and compost. Not only will this enrich the soil and provide roots with more nutrients, but it'll also improve drainage in the area.
If your tree isn't already potted, dig a hole that's 2-3 times wider than the root ball and deep enough to cover the surface of the root ball. If it's potted, the hole should be a little wider than the container it's in, but about the same depth. You don't want to bury the roots too deep and shock the plant!
If you're planting a deciduous tree from a container, carefully remove it from its container, tapping the sides of the tree's container to loosen it if necessary. Gently loosen the root ball—especially if the roots appear tightly bound—and place the root ball in the hole, spreading the roots out in all directions. Similarly, remove any burlap or wrapping from the root ball of unpotted plants and place them in the hole so that they're standing straight up. Gently fill in the gaps around the root ball, packing it tightly to reduce air pockets, until it's about two thirds full. Fill up the rest with water to help settle the soil and allow it to drain before filling in the rest of the hole. Make sure the soil surrounding the plant is level with the ground.
Finally, give your plant another good watering to help it settle into its new home. We suggest you put down a layer of organic mulch around the area afterward. The mulch will help retain the moisture in the soil and keep unwanted weeds away. Just make sure you don't place mulch too close to the trunk, where it can be an invitation for disease.
TRANSPLANTING DECIDUOUS TREES
Despite our best intentions, sometimes deciduous trees need to be transplanted elsewhere to fix a landscape design flaw. Whether it was there when you moved to the property, or you just didn't have our helpful tips when you first decided on its location, sometimes moving trees to a new location is worth the hassle.
Just as with initial planting, you should plan to transplant deciduous trees during the spring or fall. Just how much of the root system you have to transplant depends on the diameter of the tree's trunk. A trunk diameter of 1 inch will need to carry over a root ball that's at least 18 inches wide and 14 inches deep to its new home. For a trunk diameter of 2 inches, the root ball should be 28 inches wide and 19 inches deep. For trees larger than that, you might want to leave it to the professionals for transplanting!
Dig a hole that's about three times as wide as the root ball and the same depth—just like when you first planted it. From there, set the root system in the hole and carry on planting it just like it's a new tree! Water it often during the first few weeks, while the roots try to establish themselves in their new home.
Don't let the size of a sapling fool you—planting trees can be even easier than planting flowers or vegetables in your garden! Stop by Lehigh Valley garden center in Allentown and check out our large selection of trees that'll beautify your yard now and for years to come.