Planting Trees in Areas with Existing Vegetation: What You Need to Know

Learn what you need to know about planting trees in areas with existing vegetation: from selecting plant species adapted for your site's soil texture & drainage; taking a soil sample; using tree wrappers; & more.

Planting Trees in Areas with Existing Vegetation: What You Need to Know

The goal of planting trees is to make the most of the site, while providing enough growing space to avoid non-commercial thinning and maintain the strength of the plantation. To ensure success, it is important to plan ahead and select plant species that are adapted to the soil texture, drainage, and amount of shade on your site. Do not plant a shade-intolerant tree in the shade of other trees, as they will die. Slopes greater than 6 percent, oddly shaped fields, gutters, property boundaries, and edges of wetlands and forests are ideal places to plant shrubs.

The local Conservation District office, nursery, public library, or Michigan State University Extension offices will have information on specific plant requirements. Trees and shrubs must be planted at the right depth and given the right amount of water in order for them to become established and thrive. Planting too deeply and overwatering or overwatering are among the most common and serious planting mistakes. It is important to conduct a thorough inventory and analysis of the site to determine the environmental conditions for plant growth and the best use of the site.

Issues of concern include soil type, topography, and regional climate. Soil type determines the nutrients and moisture available to plants. It's always best to use plants that thrive in existing soil. Existing vegetation can provide clues about soil type.

When plants grow well, consider soil conditions and use plants with similar growth requirements. Pay special attention to areas where plants aren't doing well and adjust when choosing new plants. The topography and drainage should also be noted and all drainage problems in the proposed design corrected. A good design will draw water away from the house and redirect it to other areas of the yard.

There are many different landscape design topics, from simple to complex, but it's useful to choose one that guides the selection of plants and materials. These three diagrams illustrate the right and wrong planting depths (above), how to use a planting bar or a dibble to plant the seedlings (in the center), and how to use a hoe to plant the seedlings (below). After form, texture is the next dominant feature of a plant; thick, medium and fine textures can be used to contrast and emphasize the landscape. Many tree planters even scrape grass from the planting site at planting time to reduce competition between weeds.

To expand color displays throughout the year, use plants that have color in many parts of the plant, such as the foliage, bark, and fruit. This chapter focuses on how to buy healthy trees and shrubs, plant them properly and manage them successfully. As said, container-grown plants can be safely planted any time of the year, but it's best to plant them in the fall to take advantage of root growth during the dormant season. Inadequate planting techniques, in particular planting too deeply, were found to be a major cause of tree mortality in managed landscapes.

Trees and shrubs that grow in plastic containers or other containers with rigid sides can be removed from their containers and placed directly into the holes prepared for them.

Tree planting

in existing timber forests is generally more successful when done in openings created by the harvest of wood or the natural mortality of trees, rather than under an existing canopy. It's best to take a soil sample several weeks before planting so that you know how to treat the soil at planting time. If necessary, an organic or slow-release form of nitrogen can be mixed in the planting area or applied to the soil surface around the tree basin. Place the plant in the planting area or hole at the correct depth and then fill in the lower half of the space around the root ball.

Planting arrangement refers to the pattern or distribution of tree and shrub species at a planting site. For many years, it was common practice to automatically use tree wrappers on newly planted or thin-bark trees, in an effort to reduce damage caused by sun or temperature on bark. However, on heavy soils such as clay, planting in autumn is not recommended as plants can be swept away by soil frost before roots are established.