Your first priority when getting ready to plant new trees on your land should be ascertaining the quality of the soil. There are a lot of different factors to consider, such as the density of the soil, the nutrients that are currently present in the soil, and its ability to hold water well enough to facilitate new growth. Remember that you are not only looking for an environment where your plants can thrive, but also where beneficial microorganisms will be living.
Different Kinds of Soil
Across the planet, you’ll find many different kinds of soil with many different qualities. The soil type will affect your gardening in a few ways, and will be the main deciding factor in how well your soil can keep its moisture and its density, as well as how nutritious it is. Here are two main kinds of soil that you may encounter:
Sand-rich Soil – Most of the time, this kind of soil is not very nutritious, but the particulates are not too dense and this allows for good air circulation. Unfortunately, this latter quality also causes it to dry out more quickly, so if you need the soil to hold a lot of water, this is not the ideal type.
Clay-rich Soil – This kind of soil is dense and tends to clump together, reducing air circulation and making it easier to hold moisture. It is also a fairly nutritious soil.
Ascertaining Conditions and Preparing the Soil
As soon as you know what kind of soil you have on your property, you can anticipate some of the problems you may face. A few problems you may encounter are:
Drainage Issues – If you live in a dry area or are experience drought, having a soil that holds moisture well can be a lifesaver. On the other hand, if you live in a relatively wet environment, soil like this could potentially drown a tree or cause fungal infections to run wild. Without proper access to air, the trees roots will be unable to “breathe.”
One easy fix is to simply mix in some sand to the soil, which will increase air circulation and fix the drainage problems. While you’re making this mixture, it is probably a good idea to add some organic material for nutritional value.
Soil is too compact – Soil might be too compact for a few reasons. For one, just having a high amount of clay will make the soil stick together too much. Think about how clay bricks are made, and you’re not too far off from what can happen to clay in nature. If lots of animals and humans trudge through the soil, compaction can also occur, and this can again suffocate the plant’s roots. It can potential create a drainage issue as well, since the water will have a difficult time penetrating the ground.
In order to make the soil a bit more airy, add mulch or other similar matter to the soil. This will make the soil less dense and it will retain more air this way. You can also try to aerate the soil with a garden tool, or sifting through it by hand. Just avoid working with it while it’s saturated with water.
Don’t Prune Just Yet
Trees can suffer shock when they are transplanted, so don’t give it too much to deal with at once by pruning. Leaves serve an important function and they are what creates food for the plant as well as what releases waste product into the air. Let the tree have as much energy as it can make before and during the transplant period and it will be less likely to die on you. Don’t prune the tree until after it’s accustomed to its new environment, and only prune dead leaves and branches. If you want your tree to have a certain look, then hire a professional—they should know how to make the tree more aesthetic pleasing without harming the tree or introducing pathogens.
Avoid Planting in Extreme Depths
You may feel that you have a deep relationship with your plants, but that doesn’t mean you have to dig a deep hole for your tree to live in. In fact, in order for your tree to get the kind of aeration and water that it needs, keep things fairly superficial and place the tree in a shallow, but wide hole. The tree will initially be more concerned with spreading its roots horizontally, and it will take care of the depth on its own as it grows. Just as with human relationships, if you get too deep too fast, your tree might just suffocate, so plant it near the surface and let it do things at its own pace.
Do Some Mulching as a Finishing Touch
Mulching is a subtle art, but it should be done. Too much mulch, and you could cut the roots off from their air supply or cause an unhealthy build-up of water; but not enough mulch and weeds and other pests could take hold or the soil could dry out much too quickly. Again, the trick is to give the tree some space. Start the mulch at about a half-foot radius from the tree’s trunk, and only use about three inches of mulch. Make sure to also check the mulch every once in awhile for any organisms that shouldn’t be there, like fungus or mold.
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