It’s almost time to transplant
Lunceford on Landscaping.BY LU SNYDERNEILS LUNCEFORD
In Summit County, some look forward to the aspen dropping their leaves as a sign of the imminent ski season. Gardeners anticipate it as a time for transplanting. If you’re wondering whether it’s a good time to transplant, look at the aspen. If the aspen have budded out or are in full leaf, you’ll want to wait. It’s best to transplant when plants are dormant – typically, after the aspen have dropped their leaves in the fall or before they bud out in the spring. When you transplant trees, dig a root ball that is a foot in diameter for every inch caliper, or thickness, of the trunk.
Be careful as you dig. Though damage to the roots is inevitable, you want to minimize it as much as possible. Don’t chop the roots. Use a sharp spade or pruners to make a clean cut.Once you’re ready to remove the plant, gently tip it and slide a piece of burlap underneath. Tie the loose ends around the stem. The burlap will help protect the root ball as you move the plant. Carefully remove the plant from the hole, making sure to keep the root ball intact.Be thoughtful as you choose a new site for your plant. The plant may be small now, but what is its anticipated height and spread at maturity? You may not want to plant it too close to the house or where it will overshadow, crowd or compete with other plants. Make sure to plant it in an area appropriate for its sun, shade, drainage and water needs.
Once you’ve chosen your site, dig a hole twice the diameter of the plant’s root ball and about the same depth. Remove any large rocks. Amend the soil by mixing in organic material, like compost, in a 50-50 ratio.Place the tree into the hole, so the top of the root ball is even or slightly higher than the surrounding soil. Remove the burlap and fill the hole with amended soil – gently tapping the soil and adding water as you fill, to remove any air pockets. Once planted, water the plant until it’s saturated. Consider adding a root stimulator to encourage root growth.
Stake trees that are five feet or taller. This ensures the tree can grow new root hairs, which are essential for water and nutrient absorption.Follow similar guidelines for transplanting shrubs and perennials, though the root ball needn’t be as big.Be sure to water your transplants regularly, to keep the soil moist as they establish new roots. It is a common misconception that newly planted trees, shrubs and flowers don’t need water when they are dormant. Autumn transplants watered insufficiently are more susceptible to winterkill.
Done correctly, transplanting in the autumn can be a fun way to extend the gardening season and get a head start on spring.LU SNYDER is an employee of Neils Lunceford Inc., a local landscape and design company based in Silverthorne. She can be reached at (970) 468-0340.
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