Private Homeowner Consultation
As a service to the public, the City Forester can be consulted on tree-related issues such as diseases, insects, planting, and other cultural practices. This service can include an on-site visit. Contact the City Forester by calling 651-480-6177 or emailing Paul Mahoney.
Another good resource to help with tree problems is the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
How to Plant a Tree
Planting a tree correctly will help to ensure its survival. According to the Minnesota Shade Tree Advisory Committee, the right way to plant a tree includes:
- Select the right tree for the right site.
- Prepare the site by digging a hole 3 to 5 times larger than the root ball. Remove sod or grass. Till or break up the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches.
- Dig a hole in the center of this circle that is 1 foot larger in diameter than the root ball and is exactly as deep. Maintain undisturbed soil beneath the root ball to prevent the tree from settling.
- Place the tree carefully in the center of the hole and double-check that the tree's root collar (the bulge right above the root system) is just above the top of the soil.
- Back fill when the tree is standing straight up. Back fill the hole with the soil that was removed. As the back fill is added, lightly pack or water the soil to eliminate air pockets. Back fill to the height of the root ball, but do not pack soil on top of the root ball.
- Mulch with woodchips to a depth of 4 inches on top of the planting circle. Keep the mulch 4 inches away from the trunk to prevent fungus from growing on the tree trunk.
- Water is very important to a newly planted tree. A slow root saturating one-hour trickle once a week is a good rule of thumb for a new tree. This provides the new roots with sufficient moisture without drowning them. If it rains or is very dry, the water schedule should be adjusted accordingly.
How to Prune a Tree
The basic steps of pruning in order of importance are:
- Remove dead, diseased, damaged or weakened branches.
- Remove competing and interfering branches (those rubbing against one another).
- Remove weak branches or those with too narrow branch angles.
- Remove old primary stubs.
- Remove water sprouts and suckers unless they are being trained to fill bare spots in the crown.
Always prune back to a remaining branch or bud and never leave stubbed ends. These stubbed ends usually die back at least to the next remaining branch or bud and encourage decay in the tree. In general, it is much healthier for a tree if many small branches are removed instead of a few large limbs. Living and dead branches to be removed should be cut as close as possible to the branch collar. The branch collar, however, should never be removed.
The branch collar is very important tree tissue. When left on the tree, it encourages wound sealing and inhibits tree decay. Large branches and those that can not be supported by hand should he "jump cut" or cut in several steps. The first is an undercut approximately 12" beyond the final cut. The second cut is the top or "drop" cut made 1" - 2" beyond the undercut. The final cut is made as close to the branch collar as possible.
The type of tool needed for pruning is determined by the size of the brunch to be removed. Hand pruners are used on branches up to ¼" in diameter, lopping shears on branches from ¾" to 1 ½" in diameter, and branches larger than 1 ½" should be removed with a saw.
Early spring is the right time of the year to begin pruning trees and shrubs. Trees are pruned for safety, health and aesthetic reasons Pruning for safety may involve removing branches that could cause injury or property damage. Removing wood that could be diseased or infested by insects improves the trees health. Aesthetic pruning can also be done to enhance the natural form of the tree.
It is important to prune a tree at the right time. Consider such factors as when a tree flowers or is most susceptible to disease and insects. For instance, oak trees should not be pruned between April and mid-July; pruning during this time can make oaks highly susceptible to Oak Wilt disease. Honeylocusts should be pruned during dry times to avoid Nectria Canker. Ask your local forester or extension service for the best time to prune your trees.