Planting and Care Instructions

Planting Your New Tree

Most of the evergreen trees that we sell will have a 40-60 foot height and a 20-25 foot spread at maturity. Depending on the desired look of the finished planting, determine the spacing of the trees relative to one another and to other trees already in your landscape. Also, you should be aware of how close to fences, buildings and any underground utilities such as sewer lines you are planting. Root penetration into these objects is a potential problem you should avoid. Call Diggers Hotline to avoid potential problems as you prepare to dig. It is a free service here in Nebraska. Nebraska Diggers Hotline may be reached at 1-800-331-5666. If you are outside of Nebraska, check with your local utility providers for guidance in finding locating services for your area. You should also try to avoid having an in–ground lawn irrigation system spray too much water on your trees as this is has been known to damage or kill evergreen trees. Adjusting the nozzles away from the trees or reducing the amount of water applied to those areas might be solutions to this problem.

Another thing to consider is past use of chemicals and fertilizer on the area to be planted. If chemicals such as Tordon or similar brush killer have been sprayed in an area to be planted, there can be residule chemical in the soil for several years that could damage or kill your new trees. Also, if anhydrous ammonia has been used recently to fertilize the ground (usually for fertilizing a corn field) and trees are planted in that area, it also could damage or kill your new trees.

After careful consideration of the location of your new trees, dig a hole that is approximately 12 inches larger than the diameter of the root ball and a few inches less depth than the height of the tree root ball. The goal for depth of planting is to have the top of the root ball 2-3 inches above the soil level of the ground. Having the root ball a few inches above the surrounding soil when it is planted will allow for the settling of the root ball and the loose fill dirt.

Planting Potted Tree in Fiber pot

If you have purchased one of our potted trees in a brown fiber pot, then you are ready to place the tree in the hole, pot and all. The fiber pot is a biodegradable product that will break down and turn into fertilizer when planted in the ground. Make sure that you have the tree standing vertical in the hole (occasionally when we dig trees, they will drop in the pot with a slight lean to it, so you might need to lean the pot slightly to compensate for this). Proceed to "Backfilling the hole" below.

Planting Potted Tree in Plastic Pot

Remove the tree from the plastic pot and place the root ball in the hole. Make sure that you have the tree standing vertical in the hole. Proceed to "Backfilling the hole" below.

Planting Ball and Burlap Tree

If you have purchased a ball and burlap tree from us, remove the wire basket before the tree is planted. To accomplish this, place the tree on its side by the hole in which it will be planted. Using a bolt cutter or wire cutter, remove the lower 1/2 of the basket. You can roll the tree over to get to all of the wires. Now slide the tree into the hole (be careful as the root ball can be very heavy). The tree should be slid to the center of the hole and standing as close to vertical as possible. You can now remove the remaining portion of the basket by clipping opposite sides of the basket and cutting the ropes on the top of the root ball. Be sure to remove all of the rope from around the trunk of the tree as failure to do so could result in your tree living about a year and then getting "strangled" as the trunk grows too large in diameter for the ropes.

As for the burlap that remains on the root ball, you can either free it up from the root ball and push it down to the bottom of the hole to be buried or leave it on the root ball. Either way it will rot away in a few months to a year. You now need to straighten the tree in the hole. Use a spade or shovel to gently pry the tree to a vertical position. Next, place some of the dirt removed from the hole to keep the tree where you want it. You might have to lean the tree just past vertical, place some dirt under the root ball, and release the tree to see how it stands. Keep repeating this process until the tree is standing vertical in the hole by itself.

Backfilling the Hole

Fill the hole about 1/2 full of dirt and add water until you have standing water covering the dirt you just placed in the hole. Continue adding dirt and water until the hole is filled. You should leave a berm of the soil you removed from the hole over the root ball and the area around the root ball as this area will settle over the next few months. We usually use a rake to smooth the fill soil after planting. You can place mulch over the root ball and the hole. We recommend using wood chip mulch (anything but walnut chips as they will damage or kill your new tree). Scatter the mulch over the root ball being careful not to let the mulch contact the trunk of the tree. Sprinkle water over the mulch to help settle it and keep it in place.

The tree shouldn't need fertilizer the first year, because fertilizer could burn the roots and damage or kill your new tree.

Care of Your New Tree

We usually recommend that you check your newly planted tree once a week for at least the first one to two years to see if it needs water. If the soil under the mulch is still muddy, replace the mulch and recheck weekly until the soil moisture is between "moist" and "dry" in the area of the root ball, then give the tree and surrounding area (1-2 feet around the root ball) a good watering.

You can fertilize the tree the second year, scattering the fertilizer under the entire canopy of the tree and allowing rain to carry it to the root zone.

Pruning and Repair

Your new trees might require a small amount of pruning. You want to try to ensure a one single leader (growth that goes straight up) for every tree. If you have a tree that has multiple leaders, remove all but one central leader. This can be accomplished in the late summer to early fall of the year to ready the tree for the following year. Occasionally the terminal or top bud doesn't grow and you need to "repair" the top of your tree. In the late spring, if you notice the new growth has appeared but no new leader has grown straight in the air, you can easily fix this problem by gently bending two lateral (side or horizontal) branches that are at the top and on opposite sides of the tree together and tying them together with a strip of cotton fabric. In the fall of the same year, you will be able to clip the cotton strip away and choose which leader you would like to keep and remove the other leader with a pruner. The slight jog you see in the top of your tree will not even be visible in four to five years. Your tree is now repaired and ready for another growing season.

If you have any questions don't hesitate to call us at (402) 838-9001.

Warranty information

Silver Creek Nursery is licensed and inspected by the State of Nebraska, to ensure that you receive healthy plants when you buy from us. We offer a 30 day warranty form date of purchase. If you have a tree that dies in the first 30 days from purchase, please contact us for a free replacement tree. Replacement only covers the tree itself. If you had us deliver and plant the original tree, delivery and planting charges would apply to the replacement tree.