The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 6, 2005


Tree Talk - It's planting time

Arbor Day was on April 29. Okay, it's true that most properties in Carlisle have too many trees. It's not like the Nebraska of 1872 when J. Sterling Morton established the wildly popular tree planting holiday. On the other hand, there's always room for a new ornamental and our woodlands could use some help reestablishing biodiversity with some under-represented native species. Below are some suggestions, not so much about species and cultivars but on a couple of different methods for your consideration.

Native woodland planting

In my opinion bareroot in the three-to-five-foot range are the best. Current favorites include Hemlock (yes), Hickory, Hornbeam and Sugar Maple. is one source. Most trees are less than $5 apiece. They are quick to plant and watering is less troublesome than with larger trees. They just need patience and protection from deer. You can reach another grower right here in Carlisle who has larger native stuff in pots, which is all ready to go, at

The next size up is "Ball and Burlap." ANSI standards for a two-inch- diameter tree call for a rootball of 24-inch minimum diameter weighing about 300 pounds, pretty much the limit of an ambitious family project without machines. Three-foot trees require 32-inch rootballs weighing about 750 pounds — now that's fun! Wholesale pricing for an ornamental cherry is about $225 and $350 for the two-foot and 3-foot respectively. The planting is obviously more involved than bareroot but it's straightforward and with care you can do a better job than most landscape crews. Any local nursery can provide you with current best practice instructions.

For really big trees and quick results nothing beats a spade truck. Originally mounted on tractors and used exclusively within nurseries, truck-mounted spades are a cost-effective way to dig, transport and replant large specimen trees. A six-foot Sugar Maple might run $3,500 installed, 8-foot might be $5,000. Buy two and get the hammock — free! Ten 14-foot trees are harder to find but depending on species and growing history they can be spaded with success. Truck access and ledge can be limiting but once planted and given proper aftercare, large tree survival rates are quite high.

First-year survival for any tree depends primarily on water. Be careful to soak down to the roots once or twice a week depending on the weather, but remember that overwatering can be worse than neglect. Long-term success will naturally depend on matching the tree to the site, but you can be sure that there is a tree out there that will appreciate just about any new home that you have to offer.

Arbor Day in Carlisle might never be the grand civic holiday of the plains states 130 years ago, but there's a lot to be said for small, private holidays — just you and a tree.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito