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Planting Trees and Shrubs


The planting of trees and shrubs is a subject that requires considerable care from those to whom the operation is entrusted, for the future welfare of the plants is due, to a great extent, to the manner in which the work is done. One must consider the several ways of lifting and planting, and the different times for doing the work. Then there is the size of the plants to take into consideration, for at different periods all sorts have to be handled, from the baby plant only 1 inch or 2 inches high to the well developed specimen several tons in weight.

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The time of moving naturally demands first attention, and this will be found very varied with a mixed collection; for, while some subjects can be moved with impunity at almost any time except in very frosty or very hot and dry weather, the time for moving others is restricted to a few weeks. Ever­greens, as a rule, should be moved in September or early in October, or else be left until April or even May. Bamboos transplant with the most satisfactory results in May or early June. Evergreen Oaks shift well about the same time or just as they are breaking into growth. Hollies, again, never do better than when planted in late spring or very early autumn.

Deciduous subjects, on the other hand, may be transplanted at almost any time from the fall of the leaves until the end of March, with a few exceptions. One of these exceptions is the genus Magnolia, all members of which are better trans­planted in either October, March, or April. If it can be avoided it is advisable not to plant either in December or January, as during these months the soil is very cold, and the plants have, to stand in the ground for a considerable time before new roots are formed.

In transplanting trees, care must be taken not to injure the roots any more than is absolutely necessary, and before re­planting all the bruised portions must be cut clean off beyond the injured part with a sharp knife. By being careful over a matter such as this the life of many an expensive tree can be saved. When bruised roots are left they usually die back, but when cut clean young roots are emitted from the wounded part.

The ground for planting purposes, whether it be beds or shrubberles, should be trenched 1.5 to 2 feet deep according to the requirements of the plants in hand, and during the operation the chance should be taken of adding any material needed to enrich the staple, or make it lighter or heavier, as the case demands. At the same time if the ground is very wet draining should be done. It is not necessary to compound elaborate mixtures for trees and shrubs out of doors, for, roughly speaking, all will do in one of two sorts of soil, loam or sandy peat. Loam, varying so very much in density, may require a little mixing; for instance, that of a sandy nature can have that of a clayey character added and vice versa. The addition of manure to soil for trees and shrubs must be done with care, especially if fresh. When the manure is added to the soil it should be well rotted and placed in such a position that it will not be close to the roots. It is much better for the roots to become really active before they feel the manure than for the manure to be brought in contact with them straight away.

In the preparation of ground for peat loving shrubs, such as Rhododendrons, Kalmias, Ericas, and such like, more care is necessary than for loam loving plants, particularly in places where lime is found in the soil in any appreciable quantity; for most of these things detest lime, many of them absolutely refus­ing to grow in very limy districts, even when large beds have been taken out and the space filled with peat. On the other hand, peat cannot be said to be absolutely necessary for many of these subjects, provided lime is absent or almost absent from the soil, for Rhododendrons and other things can often be seen thriving in heavy loam.

Although this is the case, it must not be inferred that these fine rooting Ericaceous plants can be planted in heavy ground, provided it is free from lime, with impunity. The best soil for these things is a light, cool, well drained sandy peat with a thick coating of naturally decayed leaves such as is often seen on a hillside. In such a soil Rhododendrons and other kindred plants thrive amazingly, and this should be the sort of soil for the cultivator to secure.

When preparing beds for such shrubs it is not advisable to take out 1.5 or 2 feet of soil and fill up entirely with peat, as this would be almost certain to become sour before the roots got well into it. It is pref erable to make up the bed with sandy soil, top spit without grass, to within 6 inches of the surface and then fill up with peat and a thin layer of soil on the top of that again. When the bed is filled the whole should be dug over to a depth of 1 foot, to mix the peat and sand thoroughly and keep the best soil near the top, which encourages surface rooting. Of course, in a peat district the natural soil dug over to the right depth is quite. sufficient. When trenching ground it is advisable to keep the top soil near the surface, as the roots work in it much quicker than thev do in that brought up from a depth of 2 feet or so.

When preparing land for large growing trees in places where the whole of the ground has not been worked, holes must be made
varying from 5 to 10 feet in diameter, according to the nature of the ground and the tree to be planted. If the soil is very poor, good loam should be added. These holes should be at least 2.5 feet deep. Though this involves a let of work it will be found to pay in end, for the tree will thrive much better than if a small hole just big enough to hold the roots only had been made. Of course, for planting operations on a very large scale, such as large plantations and woods, this would be out of the question, but for isolated specimens it is the best plan to adopt.

The question of the depth to plant is a point that deserves consideration, as opinions differ on it. After considerable experience we have come to the conclusion that shallow planting is preferable. With shallow planting the feeding roots are near the surface, and so have plenty of air and the sweetest soil. In the case of most strong growing shrubs the top roots should not be more than 1/2 inch below the surface at the time of planting, and in the case of the strongest growing trees not more than 1 inch. When planting trees a stake should be laid across the hole after the tree has been placed in position, and by that the depth of the roots below the surface of the sur­rounding soil can be seen at a glance.

The transplanting of nursery stock requires frequent attention; as a rule, two years is quite long enough for plants in nursery quarters to remain in one position. At the end of two years those not large enough to remove to permanent quarters should be lifted and have any long roots pruned back, to encourage fibres, and be planted again, giving more room. If the weather is dry at the time of transplanting a good. watering will be found beneficial as soon as the work is done.

Transplanting is best done in dull, warm, and moist weather, and worst when dry, cutting winds are blowing. In the event of plants being transferred from the nursery to permanent positions the roots must not be exposed any more than is absolutely necessary, damp mats being used as a covering. If the trees have been bought in and the roots have become dry in transit, they should be given a good watering as soon as they are unpacked, and if the positions are not ready they should be well laid in until the planting can be done.

It is desirable to place two men at the planting, so that one can work the soil well in among the roots while the other is filling in. The roots, especially of trees, should be arranged as regularly as possible round the stem, for it must be remembered that they have to act as anchors as well as to perform the duty of caterers for the nourishment of the tree. The soil round the plants should be made firm by ramming, the amount of firmness being decided by the nature of the soil. If at all dry a good watering should be given before the holes are quite filled up. The foregoing remarks apply to specimens that can be removed without soil or with a small ball only.

It often happens that when trees or shrubs have become too thick, or when the formation of a garden is being altered, really fine specimens have either to be thrown away or moved. The first mentioned, throwing away, is very easily accomplished, but few people like to do this if there is a chance of saving the plants and using them in other places; consequently the task of transplanting has to be faced. With comparatively small specimens no great difficulty exists, but with large, unwieldy plants the work requires considerable care. Provided expense is no object, it is possible to transplant trees 30 to 40 feet high with trunks 1 foot in diameter; others half that size are, however, more frequently dealt with.

When transplanting large trees several things are necessary to ensure success. In the first place, the nature of the ground must be considered; if it is gravelly or very sandy the work will be found more difficult than if the soil is heavier. Then if the trees are in nursery quarters and have been regularly worked round or transplanted, they are much easier to deal with than those that have occupied one position for ten or twenty years. Again, if roots fibre freely the operation is more likely to be successful than if fibrous roots are scarce.

In the event of trees having to be moved which are growing in ground unsuitable for the production of fibrous routs it will be necessary to prepare them twelve months before. This is done by first deciding on the size of the ball to be moved, and then cutting a trench 1 foot wide round the ball as deeply as the roots go. All thick ones are cut off close to the ball, and the trench is filled with good, loamy soil, into which fibrous roots are pushed during the year, and the work can then be proceeded with. If the ground is suitable for the production of root fibres this work is unnecessary, except in the case of very large trees. In most instances it will be advisable when moving large trees or shrubs to secure a ball of soil with them. This, however, means the cutting of a great many roots, and it sometimes happens that it is better to obtain all or most of the roots intact and dispense with the soil. This will be found to be the case in ground where the soil will not bind together well.

When preparing to move a large specimen without soil a trench should be made at a considerable distance from the trunk (the distance, of course, has to be left to the discretion of the planter); then from this trench the soil should be forked back to the tree, laying out all the roots during the operation. If it is a very large specimen that will take several hours to lift, wet canvas should be at hand with which to cover the roots as they are exposed. When such a tree has been lifted it should be transferred carefully to its new home, a station having previously been prepared for it large enough to allow of the roots being spread out to their widest extension. Fine soil should be at hand to work in among the roots, and as the filling in is being done the higher roots should be held up until the lower ones are covered, when they may be spread out carefully on the soil and covered up. When the hole is about three parts full a good watering must be given to settle the soil well about the roots, and as soon as the water has sunk in the hole must be filled up, the soil being rammed firmly about the trunk. A triangle of soft cord should then be attached to the trunk, the loose ends being tied to stakes driven firmly in the ground at a distance of a few feet from the tree. When this has been done another watering should be given. The ropes must not be removed until the tree has become firmly established.

Lifting with balls of soil is more frequently practised than the former method, the balls varying in weight from a few pounds to 8 or 10 tons. To deal with these, several methods may be adopted; they can either be lifted on mats, taken out on planks and rollers, or lifted on transplanting machines. The first mentioned method is the best to adopt for light balls, the second for large shrubs with very short stems and large heads and in cases where other apnliances are not at hand, and the third for trees of all sizes. When preparing a ball for removal its size is the first thing to consider; when that has been decided on a trench must be made round it 1 foot wide and as deep as the roots go, the ball being marked out square. After this trench has been made the corners of the ball must be forked away until it is round.

During the operation as many fibrous roots as possible must be saved, thick roots being cut away. When this has been done a stout canvas must be passed round the ball; round this two ropes must be passed, one at the top, the other at the bottom; between the ropes and canvas five or six pieces of board, 2 inches or so wide, must be placed to keep the ropes from cutting into the soil; then short sticks must be placed through the ropes, and the ropes twisted up as tightly as is possible without breaking them. A strong piece of string will then secure the sticks. After this has been done one side must be undermined and a rolled mat passed under the ball; the whole plant can then be tilted gently back and the mat unrolled and pulled through. After this, the plant can be easily lifted out of the hole, placed on a truck, and taken to its new home. With valuable plants it is not worth while trying to take the mat out again; simply cut it off, remove the canvas, lay out the fibrous roots, and fill in the soil.

For plants moved with machines much the same method is followed provided they will not weigh more than 12 tons. The only alteration in this instance is that after the ball has been bound up two sides are undermined far enough to allow of two strong boards, 2 inches thick and 4 to 6 inches wide, being placed well under the ball. The ends of these boards project from the sides of the ball, and under these strong ropes are passed, the ends of which are passed round rollers on the machine above, and the plant is lifted with windlasses. Two ropes must be placed on the head of the tree for guy ropes.

For very heavy balls for large transplanting machines, or for moving on planks and rollers, a different method has to be adopted. As a rule balls for this sort of work should be from 4.5 to 7 feet in diameter, square, not round as in the other case, and may weigh up to 10 tons. A good workable trench is first made on two opposite sides of the ball to the depth of the lowest roots. The ball is then tunnelled through the middle below the roots, the hole, being wide enough to allow of two very strong planks, 4 inches thick and 11 inches wide, being passed through, the ends projecting 9 inches on each side. Then the ball is undermined above the ends of the planks, and Oak boards, 9 inches wide and 1 inch thick are inserted; then the other two sides of the ball are dug out and undermined in the same way and other boards inserted, the ends resting on the first two.

The soil must now be bound round with canvas as before, boards 4 inches wide being used to save cutting. When this has been done the corners of the four boards must be bound together, the ropes being passed over the ball and made tight round the trunk. Four guy ropes must be placed on the head to prevent accidents.

If rollers are to be used the centre planks must now be lifted from one end, an incline having previously been made to the bottom of the hole. This lifting can be easily done with a jack. When high enough, planks and rollers can be placed beneath, and the plant removed from its bed by means of ropes and blocks. When on the level ground it can either be taken to its new place on the rollers or be placed on a trolley. If a tree lifting machine is to be used the work is done in the same way, but instead of lifting with a jack the machine is placed in position and strong ropes connected with rollers on the machine are passed under the ends of the centre planks. When all is ready the lifting is done by windlasses.

When removing from one place to another horses can be used, but if the distance is not great it will be found advisable to use men and let the machine run on planks. In this way it is possible for sixteen men to get along fairly rapidly with a tree 6 or 7 tons in weight, provided there is no uphill work. When placing these large plants in their new positions a trench, 6 inches deep and 2 feet wide, must be made at the bottom and in the middle of each hole to allow the centre lifting planks to drop in. When this is done ropes tied round one end will remove them. If a plank does happen to get pinched beneath the ball it can usually be pushed out from one end with a jack. In all cases, after the trees are settled in their places, they should be well rammed underneath to prevent sinking, and ropes, as recommended before, should be used to keep them from settling out of the straight. A good watering when the holes are half filled will do much to settle the soil about the roots.