SECRET #1 – Protect the Bark

Plant bark is like your skin. When it’s damaged, pathogens get in which cause infections. Your trees and shrubs devote all their energy to healing instead of growing.

EmpressTree-Nursery-04What kind of damage are we talking about? One of the most common injuries occurs from lawn mowers, edgers and weed trimmers. We get too close and cause small cuts and gouges in the bark.

Wildlife can also pose a threat. When the sun goes down and we’re all tucked in our comfy beds, burrowing little critters are busy trying to get ready for the winter. One of the ways they do that is by nibbling at the new bark on your tree. The little pieces of bark are great for their nests and bedding areas.

If you have field mice near your property, an inexpensive solution is Wrap Around Tree Guards. They also protect against mowers and trimmers. You should also keep mulch from touching the trunk of your plants. Mulch piled high against a trunk, makes a perfect home site.

SECRET #2 – Eliminate Competition

ThujaGreenGiantWeeds and grass are ruthless when it comes to robbing trees and shrubs of moisture. They send out long “ninja” roots that can draw water and nutrients out of the center of your new plant’s root ball.

When you dig your hole… the wider the better. You’ll remove the surrounding grass and you’ll loosen up the soil for faster root growth. We recommend digging out at least 2-3 feet away from the trunk of the plant.

Mulch will keep weeds and lawn equipment away from your plants. Organic mulch will also insulate roots in the winter, add nutrients as it breaks down and help balance PH levels.

A tree in the woods provides its own mulch with several inches of leaves on the ground. We can imitate this by mulching the planting area with 3 to 4 inches of wood chips, chunk bark, straw, pine needles or shredded leaves.

Just remember not to pile mulch up against the trunk. It will keep constant moisture on the bark. (Think about what this would do to your skin). Instead, keep the mulch about 1 inch away.

SECRET # 3 – Hair Roots

WillowHybridStudies show that 80% of the problems associated with trees are directly related to their root systems. Trees and shrubs pull nutrients and water into the plant through the fine hair roots, not the big fat ones.

Plants send out these hair roots into the surrounding soil to pump back a non-stop supply of water and nutrients, helping the plant burst with new growth.

If you have poor or hard dirt, then mix in soil amendments like shredded bark, leaves, aged manure, compost, coffee grounds or blood meal. It gives added nutrients while softening the soil.

Choose a fertilizer with a root stimulator hormone. This is a secret used by wholesale plant nurseries in order to quickly produce larger plants. The hormone stimulates hair root growth, which can fuel a year’s worth of growth in a matter of weeks. Root stimulators cost no more than other fertilizers. We like Root Blast, but there are several others on the market.

Use tree root stimulant when you first plant and then occasionally during the peak growing season. Root stimulants are especially recommended when trees are transplanted from one place to the other. They help trees to recover faster from the stress caused by moving.

If you live in an area that experiences gusty storms or high winds, you may want to consider Tree Stakes. They stabilize your newly planted trees in order to keep them from blowing over. More importantly, they keep delicate hair roots from being ripped out while trees are getting established.

If you use stakes, make sure they have high quality straps that won’t dig into the bark.

Bonus Tips

HybridPoplarYou should be cautious of big established trees sold by landscapers. These are the 10 foot+ trees that are dug out of the ground, and then the root ball is wrapped in burlap. These can cost thousands to install. The problem is that trees are like people… the older we get, the less we like change. The fatality rate of large transplanted trees is high. Plus they can take as long as two years to re-establish the roots that were cut off for the move.

Trees under 7 feet are much more adaptable and will start growing almost immediately. In 2-3 years, that inexpensive 6 foot tree could be bigger than the $2,000 tree the landscaper installed. sends you high quality plants with large, vibrant root systems. If you have any tree or planting questions, please call our helpful experts at 888-504-2001.

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12 years ago I was sitting around, talking with two of my favorite, fellow Plant Geeks. We were trying to figure out why so many, superior plant varieties were not available to the public and were seldom offered in Garden Centers. Instead, the stores sold less attractive, older varieties, proven to be disease and insect prone. They also sold the sprays and chemicals that their customers would eventually need. The Ah Ha moment hit us and a company was formed. We decided that we would only offer the highest quality plants that must be Easy to Grow.