Monday, September 28, 2015


Above is a shot of my side yard on the left haft which was actually originally supposed to be another small lot for a house that never got built. In the center is a steep ditch going down to the ravine at the bottom of our property and on the right is looking into the back yard behind the house. It looks like there are a lot of mature trees in our yard and there are. But most of them have various stages of dead growth in them ranging from 10% to 50% of the tree. There are only two or three trees in all those that look healthy. It is hard to imagine but I've already cut down around 30 trees in the three years we have lived here, all but two of them would have been visible in this picture.

Buying trees from a nursery is an expensive proposition. For the most part, expect to pay $100 - $200 per tree depending on the variety and size, the most expensive ones being five feet tall all the way down to the cheaper ones that stand a few feet tall. We did buy a few fruit trees this way and one spring flowering tree for our front yard a year and a half ago because we wanted a head start on getting a privacy screen of sorts between our house and the road. The trees for the side and back yard however were merely to repopulate the hills with native trees so that when these mature ones are gone, it isn't totally barren.

So I joined the Arbor Day Society which gave me 10 free trees for joining and another free tree after I spent $20 buying four lilac bushes which are the four fenced in plants in the left foreground of the photo. I planted them along the edge of our driveway where it becomes too steep to mow with anything other than a string trimmer with hopes to eventually propagate them down the entire slope. The free tree I got for spending the $20, was a red maple tree and already three feet tall when it arrived so I planted it this spring when I planted the lilac bushes. The remaining 10 free trees were merely sticks so I stuck them in pots of soil on my deck for the time being.

I think the last time I blogged about them, nine of the ten had leafed out and the remaining one after three months hadn't yet. Only laziness prevented me from pulling the twig out of the pot and getting rid of it. However in late summer, much to my surprise I was watering them when I noticed that the remaining tree had sprouted a few leaves at the base of the twig and was still alive. I have kept it watered since and it is showing much desire to remain in the land of the living.

About a week ago after a three inch rain softened up our parched soil and the nights were starting to cool off, I decided it was time to plant those trees in the ground. They are mostly about 12 to 18 inches tall and only have a few leaf couplets on them but I was afraid that leaving them to over winter on the deck would be too hard on the roots. Another option would be to put them into a soil trench, spaced closely and mulch them to protect them over winter but I would still probably have to fence them off from deer and do a lot of digging. In the end, I decided just to plant them even if it means I have to carry buckets of water too them once a week from now until it freezes to make sure they have plenty of moisture.

When I took them out of the pots to plant them, about half of them I could see small roots out around the pot perimeter so they are sending out roots. With soil temperatures still warm for now, I hope they get enough roots situated that combined with the mulch and my carrying water to them by hand will give them a decent chance to survive over winter. If not, I'm out only a dollar and come change (on average) and some sweat equity I put into putting up the fencing to protect them from deer until they get a large enough to fend for themselves. Much easier on my billfold than paying $150 per tree.


Vince said...

Get your bro with the post auger and open up abut 150 holes about a yard apart in tear drop shapes. Get a cheap spray paint and 'draw' out the shapes on the ground.
Leave the holes open over winter. Then get bare rooted trees from a farm. Whips, no bigger than a few feet for pennies and plant them into the open holes.

Kelly said...

Check with your local conservation office. The counties around here occasionally offer bundles of assorted trees at a greatly reduced cost.

Ed said...

Vince and Kelly - The trees were the cheapest part of the entire operation and the least effort. The biggest expense and effort was building the deer exclusion perimeter around each tree to allow them to get big enough to fend for themselves.

Leigh said...

I love the Arbor Day Foundation! They are truly tree lovers and promoters. I don't join every year because we have an awful lot of trees and I'd be hard pressed to plant many more.

Ed said...

Leigh - It was my first time joining them but I certainly had a good experience. My only complaint was that there was no warning that the trees were shipped so they just showed up one day. A few days notice would have been preferable but fortunately I was home at the time and could at least get them in a pot with some water.