Thread: Frost heaves

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  1. #1
    Sapling
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York, Zone 5
    Posts
    87

    Frost heaves

    Need some expert advice. Last fall I bought 4 ft tall Norway spruce trees in 5 gallon containers and planted them in my yard. One is doing great but one did not get planted deep enough and most of the root ball is above ground. Is this tree toast or can I save it and how? The ground is still too frozen to dig up and re plant. It's a really nice specimen but if need be, I can replace it. What should I do?

  2. #2
    Oak
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    St. Louis zone 6
    Posts
    312

    RE: Frost heaves

    Don't know for sure.

    Just thinking "outside the box", Any chance though the area is a bit of a depression you can level out to be correct the planting depth?
    Zone 6, St. Louis, MO

  3. #3
    Sapling
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York, Zone 5
    Posts
    87

    RE: Frost heaves

    Not really, but I thought about dumping a bag of either mulch or top soil around it. Worried it would just blow or wash away as it would have nothing to "stick" to. Wonder if the tree has a chance with only 1/3 of the root ball covered, as it is now. Needles are being retained so far.

  4. #4
    Oak
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Western NY, Zone 6
    Posts
    348

    Re: RE: Frost heaves

    Quote Originally Posted by esperance
    Not really, but I thought about dumping a bag of either mulch or top soil around it. Worried it would just blow or wash away as it would have nothing to "stick" to. Wonder if the tree has a chance with only 1/3 of the root ball covered, as it is now. Needles are being retained so far.
    It should be fine, as most of the remaining root ball is still under ground. However, make sure you stake that tree because it probably isn't anchored into the ground very well.

    I would cover the exposed root area with soil. The exposed roots are probably dried up and dead, which may result in some die back on the tree, but adding the extra soil won't hurt as long as you don't over-do it. I would think that the tree should be fine and there may be only minor if any negative consequences.

  5. #5
    Oak
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    NE Tennessee
    Posts
    108

    RE: Frost heaves

    Here is what I would do if I were you:
    Since it has already heaved up, it is a good opportunity to examine the root flare. THAT is what you should be concerned about. It is very possible that the tree was planted too deep at some point in the nursery production process. Take a good look at the point where the trunk enters the soil. You want to be able to see the root flare. It is the area where the trunk spreads out and turns into butress roots. The "flair" should be at finished grade. It my require removing some of the roots that are now exposed. Try to tease as many circling roots out as you can, prune any that cannot be straightened. Then add soil, prefferable native, to raise grade to root flair as needed, and mulch to 2-3 inches. It will be neccessary to monitor water needs this year. Water DEEP to discourage surface root development. I would not recommend staking, unless it will not stand up on its own or you are in a high wind situation. It is difficult to do correctly on connifers and can often cause more harm than good. It will develop stronger roots if left unstaked.
    "EDUCATION begins when you question something. EDUCATION occurs when you have resolved your doubts" Alex Shigo

  6. #6
    fusion2
    Guest

    RE: Frost heaves

    My small 2 year old tree got up rooted about a month ago so I had to replant it now its flowering so it did not seem to hurt it so if you have to dig yours up and replant it it should not hurt it as long as you water it and keep it watered I transplanted my norway spruce it had been planted a couple of months I just did not like where I had put so I moved it I kept it water and it lived fine without no harm the needles stayed good and green.

  7. #7
    Sapling
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York, Zone 5
    Posts
    87

    RE: Frost heaves

    Thank you all for the suggestions. Problem with digging it up now is that the ground is still frozen, in fact too frozen to get soil from somewhere else in the yard. I bought 2 bags of topsoil and plan to cover the root ball with it and some left over mulch until the ground thaws and I can do as you all suggested. Same thig happened to some folks down the road, but their Norways tilted sideways 'cause they were much bigger and unfortunately now look dead. I won't stake mine. I am amazed by how much it lifted itself out of the ground. I planted it high becuase of clay soil and thinkng that the roots needed some air. They are getting it now!

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