The weather outside might make one think it’s less than ideal to think about the garden you’ll want to enjoy later this year, but there’s few better ways to beat the winter blahs than by sitting down and putting what you kind of landscaping you want to do this year on paper.
Trees can do a lot for you and your home. According to Parks, Forestry and Recreation Toronto, trees can boost the value of your property and lower air conditioning bills by providing cooling shade to windows and walls, and they can act as nature’s windbreakers when planted on the north side of a home, cutting heating costs by up to 10 per cent. Trees also generate oxygen, recycle water and remove air pollutants.
Before deciding where in your yard you’d like to plant trees, it’s a good idea to dial the “call before you dig” number in your area. In Ontario, it’s 1-800-400-2255 to reach Ontario One Call, a free service for both homeowners and excavators. This will give you a heads up as to any utility lines that are buried on your property, and making this your first task before you start planning your tree arrangements will prevent you from having to go back and alter your design because of unforeseen problems.
Once you’re in the clear, there’s a few things to keep in mind when you’re choosing the trees for your property as well as regarding how you should care for them:
Planting too deep can lead to the death of the tree. Most people believe a deep, wide hole that’s large enough for the entire root ball to be buried is the best way, but around a quarter of the root ball should actually be above the ground for optimal tree health. The hole can then be filled with a mixture of native soil and compost that’s firmly packed. The bark of the tree and the top of the roots (called the root collar) need air, and planting them deep within the ground will leave them with no air and too much moisture, leading to rot.
Fertilizing trees can be done in autumn by spreading a dry fertilizer over the ground where the roots are. Keeping the soil reasonably moist will also allow the trees to absorb the nutrients through their roots when fertilizing.
Trees need to be watered like any plant, but they don’t need to be kept constantly moist. If the soil is dry, water the tree. Even drought-resistant trees like paperbark maples need watering once in a while, usually during the first few years.
Trees that are newly planted rarely need stakes or guy wire to stand up straight and tall, as the root ball should make them bottom-heavy enough to take care of themselves. If stakes or guy wire is necessary, they can become problematic if they’re not removed before the end of the tree’s first year.