On March 15, under perfect skies, Richmond Tree Stewards along with friends, family, VCU student volunteers and a city arborist enjoyed a beautiful morning planting trees in Petronius Jones Park.
Here’s how we did it:
- First and most important: find the root flare. That’s the place where the roots should be below ground and the trunk above ground. Seems simple enough, but nursery grown trees may have soil up around the trunk, so you have to do a little digging to find just the right spot. Several inches of soil may need to be removed to find the flare.
- Second, determine how deep to dig the hole. The root ball needs to sit on solid ground so the hole is dug only as deep as the root ball and no more. The hole does need to be wider than the root ball to give the roots an easy place to start growing. The hole looks a little like a soup bowl when it’s ready.
- Next, get that big, heavy root ball into the hole. Best done by gently rolling the tree in rather than pulling on the trunk or trying to lift. Experience and technique are good here; muscle helps too.
- Once in the hole remove as much of the burlap and wire basket as possible. (If the burlap is synthetic you must remove it all.)
- Fill in the hole using only the dirt that was removed – no amendments! Top with one bag of compost and two wheel barrows of mulch, kept well away from the trunk.
- Finally – water, water, lots of water directly into the planting hole. Saturating the planting hole gets rid of air pockets which are potential dead zones for roots.
We did this for all 19 trees! It’s a great start for the Magnolia acuminata (cucumber magnolia), Fagus grandifolia (American beech), Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory), Ginko biloba (ginko), Prunus serrulata (Kwanzan cherries), Lagerstroemia indica (crape myrtles) and Cercis canadensis (eastern redbuds).
Tree Stewards will be watering the trees this summer and assessing the need for pruning over the next few years to ensure that these trees thrive, providing this park with much needed shade and the neighborhood with cleaner water, cleaner air and beautiful trees.
Many thanks to our volunteers and to anyone who plants and cares for trees!