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New Tree Help [Archive] - Arbor Day Forum


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10-10-2004, 07:35 PM
I just had two trees planted, a live oak and a red oak. I think the live oak is ok, but the red oak does not look like they planted deep enough. Does the top of the root ball need to be flush with the natural ground level, or can it be planted slightly above as long as there is a couple layers of soil completely surrounding the root ball? Help is greatly appreciated.

10-11-2004, 09:06 AM
In my (still very limited!) experience, a few smaller plants like to be planted with the rootball up a bit, but most others (and all trees I've ever read up on, that I can think of) like to go in with their native dirt showing, but not above the level of the surrounding ground.

Did they make a well around the trees to hold water? If not, the combination of a lack of a small ridge to hold water and the raised height might be encouraging water to run off, leaving the roots a bit thirsty.

10-11-2004, 10:00 AM
There is definately a well around it, and the area gets plenty of water so in that respect I guess its ok. I contacted the nursery, they claim that it will settle over time...

10-12-2004, 05:58 PM
Planting trees a bit "high" is good practice in most areas, especially when the soil is poorly-drained (clay). The rootball usually does settle a bit over time, and it's far worse to have the tree planted too deep (an unfortunately common practice).

10-13-2004, 11:32 AM
Trees planted too deeply will struggle their entire short lives, but will eventually succumb to the stress. When planting bare-root trees, potted trees, or balled and burlapped trees you should find the root flare (where the trunk begins to get wider) and make sure that this is about 1-2 inches above ground level after settling. Don't assume that the potted or balled trees were planted properly, they are almost always too deep. You might have to remove some soil and dig down with your fingers to find the spot where the trunk begins to widen.

10-14-2004, 12:36 AM
If the trees are planted too high can you "fix" the problem by insulating the sides of the tree with extra mulch?

10-14-2004, 09:44 AM
Mulch shouldn't ever touch the bark directly because it will provide moist, dark places for all sorts of rodents, insects, molds, and fungus to become established and damage the tree. If the tree is planted too high you might be able to cover the exposed roots with topsoil to remedy this. I guess the best answer would be to make sure whoever is planting your tree has some idea about the proper depth, root pruning, and most importantly, removing the burlap and wire cages.

Quirky Quercus
10-14-2004, 05:25 PM
An interesting little tidbit here...
I had about 6 sweetgums that I put in last winter. They were planted on an edge of the lot where it's very sloped. MAybe 40 degrees or so. That could have been the reason 5 of the sweetgums were unsuccessful. There was one remaining that was not looking so good. Two hurricanes later, like all the trees I had planted, the rootflare was severly exposed because all the soil had eroded away from it and the tree was tugged out of the ground by the wind. Well now the tree is full of new leaves (even now!) and they continue to come out more and more every day and the tree is starting to look good. I did not replace any soil to it like I did with the other trees because I was preparing to remove it. I think for whatever reason that tree was not able to breathe even though it was planted correctly the first time around.