Did you know that one tree can filter almost 12kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually? This is equivalent to 17 000km of car emissions. All the more reason to continue to plant indigenous trees at home and at your workplace – even after Arbor week has come and gone.
Not too sure how to go about planting and caring for a new tree? Here are a few simple steps that you can follow to make sure that you and your trees get off on the right root.
Trees need room to develop root systems underground and branches overhead. Don’t plant trees that will grow too large in small areas. Although this may seem obvious, be careful not to plant tall growing trees under power or telephone lines, or large trees close to buildings. Consider planting your new tree with energy conservation in mind. Deciduous trees will shade the west, south and east sides of your home in summer but without their leaves, won’t obstruct the low winter sun. While planting evergreen trees along the west and north edges of your garden, will provide winter windbreaks.
Try to plant your tree when the weather is cool, cloudy and humid, but not windy. If you can’t plant right away, keep the tree in a cool, protected spot and keep the roots moist. It helps to soak bare root trees and shrubs in a bucket of water overnight before planting. First, prepare a hole two to three times as wide as the root ball of your tree. Handle the root ball carefully to keep it intact while you place it in the hole. Once in, turn it so the best side of the tree is facing the direction you want. With burlapped root balls, cut the twine and remove the burlap. Next, backfill around the root ball, lightly packing the soil as you go, trying to leave a slight hollow as to create a watering well around the base of your tree.
Young trees require regular watering for good health and disease prevention. Deep watering prevents weak surface roots from forming, and encourages the growth of robust roots underground. Water the tree soon after planting and every day for several weeks afterwards. By that point, the roots will have begun to grow out into the surrounding soil and you can begin to gradually reduce the amount and frequency of watering.
During a drought, it is a good idea to consider drought tolerant indigenous trees. The following trees, indigenous to South Africa, can withstand drought:
- Dombeya rotundifolia (Wild Pear)
- Rhus pyroides (Common Taaibos)
A newly planted tree’s best friend is mulch. It is very important to remember to mulch your tree after you have planted it. Add mulch to the base of your tree by removing any grass within a one to five meter area, depending on the size of your tree. Make sure that it doesn’t touch the bark of the tree. Farmyard Organics’ Mulch is valuable for your tree’s health because:
- It will help insulate the soil, creating a buffer from heat and cold temperatures.
- It retains water, helping to keep the roots moist.
- It helps to keep weeds at bay.
- It inhibits certain plant diseases.
Hint: Newly planted trees should only be pruned to remove broken, dead, or diseased limbs. Otherwise, leave them be until after their first growing season.