Marc Greenaway, operations manager at Glendale Civic Trees, shares the top ten things you need to think about when planting trees in the urban environment
1) Choose the right tree for the environment
This is important, as planting a large Araucaria araucana (Monkey puzzle) next to a children’s playground would not be a good idea. Also, check the health of your chosen tree before planting. Ask the supplier if the tree has been field grown or container grown: if the latter, how long has it been in the container? Trees left too long in containers will be susceptible to root girdling.
2) When planning the task, make sure you think of the future
When planted correctly, trees have a habit of growing! Check for services, and make sure the roots from the tree are not going to impact service routes. If you’re worried this might be an issue, install a root deflection system.
3) Work closely with the architect or designer
You will then understand what they want from the tree (shading, screening, ornamental or all of the above).
4) Choose the correct tree species for the soil you are planting into
If this cannot be achieved, you will need to import soil with the correct pH levels to help the tree thrive in its new environment. This pH level will need to be monitored and possibly adjusted again in the future, via soil additives.
5) When planting multiples of trees, look for diversification of species
This will limit the effects of species specific pest and diseases.
6) When planting in urban environments, it is imperative you check for soil compaction within close proximity to the tree
If the area is especially compacted, or you anticipate compaction in the future (footpaths, carparks, etc), you may need to install soil de-compaction cells or have the area aerated manually.
7) Make sure your tree pit is free-draining
A waterlogged tree pit is not going to benefit a tree, and may kill it!
8) Plant the tree at the correct height: not too deep or too high
The nursery line on the tree is a good guide to help with this.
9) Choose the appropriate guying method for the tree and the environment the tree is planted in
This will depend heavily on the structure of the rootball. If using wooden stakes and rubber guying, make sure you remove these when the time is right to stop the trunk being strangled in the future.
10) Aftercare! This is the most important point of all tree planting
Trees need a good aftercare package that includes watering visits, pruning, weeding and possibly feeding in their first few seasons in the new environment. You will need to check on the tree’s progress and log its reaction. If the tree appears to suffer despite having followed the steps above, it is likely the tree has suffered mechanical damage or there are environmental issues.