Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Evil Of Balled And Burlapped Trees

I got a call from a homeowner that said his pines were all dying of a blight.  He had taken out six already, and a seventh had just died.

This tree is newly dead and the upper needles had not turned brown.  I parked by it and I could see the ground moving around it as the wind pushed the tree around.  It was not well-rooted.  The movement would be obvious to anyone who works with trees.

 It is sincerely dead; no coming back.  The man has one more live white pine tree.

Here is the problem.  It was a balled and burlapped tree; the kind people plant when they want instant trees and immediate gratification.  We don't know how long they sat in a nursery bed with chopped roots that circled new growth in the burlap wrap, but these trees looked good when they were planted.  The circling roots do not straighten and extend radially.  They are stuck in the shape that was forced on them, and soon the trees are starved and strangled.  I see this  problem over and over, and I don't make many friends in the nursery industry.  I tell people to stay away from balled and burlapped trees, and to plant seedlings or potted trees with good root systems.  Landowner will argue that they want a big tree right away and buy the big one.  They will be replacing it in a few years, and they sometimes call me and ask for my blessing.  I tell them they screwed up and are screwing up again if they do another balled and burlapped tree.

Meanwhile, Susan and I have great trees all around the homestead because we plant small trees with good root systems.  I just stuck a swamp chestnut oak in the ground last week that is only 8" tall, and I am 65 years old now.  If I don't screw up and do something stupid I may get to enjoy shade from that tree in a few years.

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