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From the Ground Up: Yes, you can still plant trees in the summer

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By Judy Stevens, Iowa State University Extension

With all of the great sales occurring in the nurseries this time of year it’s hard to decide if the savings is really a good investment or if the plant will live up to your expectations. Timing is still right for annuals and perennials but trees? Trees can still be planted at this time of year if the proper selection and maintenance of your new tree is preformed at time of purchase.

The first step to obtaining a good result occurs at the business where the tree is to be purchased. Most of the trees that you will be purchasing at this time of year will be balled and wrapped or in a container. It probably is a good idea not to purchase a bare root tree at this time of year but wait for this selection in the spring. Carefully examine the tree you have chosen. Read the label carefully. Is this tree going to fill the space you have selected? Check the mature height and width of tree. If there are overhead power lines, the utility companies will trim the tree to clear the lines which may result in a shape that you do not find appealing

The second step is to examine the tree. Is the tree straight? Is there a strong central leader on the tree? Is the tree completely leafed out? Look at the base of the tree. Are the roots of the tree exposed and do they appear to be flared out from the trunk of the tree? Is the bark of the tree firm on the tree? Is the trunk of the tree injured with cuts or rubbings (deer damage)?

The third step is transporting the tree to its new home. Handle the tree by the container never the trunk to prevent damage to the roots and the truck attachment. Bring an old blanket or tarp to cover the branches to keep the wind from tattering the leaves and dehydrating the tree. If the tree is tall enough, for transit lay it against the bed of a truck, make sure to pad the point of contact well to prevent injuring the bark.

When your tree does arrive at its final destination, keep the tree in a shaded location and keep it moist until you are ready to plant. The sooner it’s planted the better your chances for a successful tree. For planting, make sure to dig the hole twice the width of the root ball and plant even with the level of the tree in the container. Water thoroughly.

For more specific tree planting details, call the hortline.

• For gardening questions, call the Linn County Extension Master Gardener Hortline at (319) 447-0647.

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