In digging up a young tree the roots should be preserved as far as practicable, the circular trench being at least six feet in diameter, or three feet from the stem in all directions. Any unnecessary breaking or wounding of the roots must be avoided, and all the slender rootlets should be secured as far as possible. The more earth that can be taken up with the roots the better. A solid lump is not necessary; but whatever soil clings to the roots should be retained and not allowed to fall off through jolting or careless handling.
Having dug up the sapling, examine the roots carefully, cut off cleanly and smoothly with a sharp knife all the bruised or broken ones, cutting them back to the sound wood. Then these roots will not decay, and the new fibres or rootlets will grow quickly. If there is a long tap root it should be shortened to conform to the depth of the hole in which the tree is to stand. Do not allow the roots to be exposed to the sun or wind ; cover them up immediately with damp straw or bags, or, dip them in liquid mud repeatedly until a thick coating is formed that will exclude the air, and keep them moist. If the fibrous roots become dry through lack of some such precaution the work will probably prove a failure.
Trees Are Beautiful In Winter As Well As In Summer
The stem of the tree may he cut back from the top; hut the frequent method of pruning forest saplings down to a bare pole is not advisable. It is better to allow three or four of the limbs to remain, selecting those which will give the best arrangement; and then, in cutting them back', leave one bud on each. This will make a better shaped tree in time. The severe pruning of the transplanted tree is necessary on account of the loss in its roots; the more roots are cut off the greater the amount of pruning needed.
There must be a new growth of root fibres before the young tree can support its foliage safely. The leaves of a healthy tree are nourished by the sap which is drawn from the roots as fast as needed: but if this tree is transplanted the supply is partially cut off until new roots and fibres are formed t<i replace those lost in transplanting. It, during this period, the leaves and branches are allowed to keep on draining the sap, they will exhaust the supply before the new roots are grown, and the tree will soon wither or die.
The natural character of the soil should always be carefully studied, for trees that thrive in one place may fail in others. Some species that attain their highest development in sandy soils will not live in any other; some that find a natural habitat in rich ground must have the same soil conditions in order to fulfill the expectations of the planter; while others that thrive in low wet places will eke out but a scanty existence if planted on high, dry lands. Idle artificially prepared earth with which the hole is filled cannot be depended on to permanently counteract the unfavorable influence of adjacent soil.
The holes should be dug before the trees arrive, and the earth for filling should also be in readiness. The holes must be large enough so that the roots can be spread out in their natural position without cramping them in the least. It is well to dig them so that there will be a foot or more of additional Space on all sides, and of ample depth. This is especially necessary in poor soil. In digging throw the top soil to one side and cart away the poorer earth which came from the lower part of the hole. In place of the latter use a rich soil, one-fourth manure, thoroughly mixed, worked until it is fine and tree from lumps, sods or stones. Use no manure unless it is thoroughly mixed with earth; if it touches the roots it will burn or rot them. Where there is a good soil of sufficient depth, well adapted to the natural requirements of the species to be planted, much more may not be necessary aside from making the hole large enough so that all the roots can be spread out freely without any cramping or twisting.
In setting the tree two men are required. One is needed to hold the tree upright ; the other will he fully occupied shoveling in the earth and then working it with his hands under and closely around the roots and fibrous branches. The earth must be thrown in slowly and in small quantities at a time as fast as thrown in it should be rammed or trodden down until there can be no air spaces, and until every rootlet is brought in close contact with the soil. No water should be used ; it is not necessary. If clashed into the hole, as sometimes done, it is apt to wash the earth away from the roots in places, leaving air holes. It water is used it is better to sprinkle the sides and bottom of the hole before planting; also the surface of the ground after the work is done. Frequent and thorough ramming is necessary. Young trees that have wilted and seem to be dying have been restored quickly to life and vigor by using heavy rammers that brought the loose earth in contact with the roots again.
In addition to a rich soil it is highly essential that there should be a good drainage. Moisture is beneficial; but if water collects around the roots the tree will die. Clays is impervious to water, and if a stratum of this soil is found near the bottom of the hole, drainage must be provided by digging a passage through it, building a stone drain, or sinking a very deep hole which can be filled to a proper height with broken rock, gravel, or ashes.
A tree should be set at the same depth that it formerly occupied; but when the hole has been filled the surface may be rounded up sufficiently to allow for the settling of the earth. If exposed to strong winds the young tree should be " staked," and fastened to the stakes by strips of cloth or any appliance that will not injure the bark. In setting out a forest tree it may be well to place it in the same position as to points of compass which it originally occupied. A cloudy clay is better for planting than one when the sun shines clear and hot.
After the tree is planted the ground should be covered with a mulch, three or four inches deep, of straw, hay, or manure, The latter will serve, also, as a fertilizer. If nothing else is done, the loose stones that came out of the hole can be thrown back on the ground to keep it moist. For a few years the surface of the ground around the tree should be loosened each season to prevent it from becoming dry and hard. Grass and weeds should be kept out, as they weaken the growth of the young trees.
Although spring is the better time for transplanting, it may be desirable under some circumstances where nursery trees are used to order them in the fall, ami then heel them in until spring. "Heeling in" is temporary planting in a trench, or merely placing them in the ground and covering the roots with a thick layer of closely-packed soil to exclude the air. They can be placed closely together, and should be sit in a slanting position with the tops inclined away from the prevailing winds. Heeling is also resorted to when nursery stock arrives before preparation has been made for planting.
This method is favored by some because, when trees are taken up in the spring the "callus" which forms on the mutilated roots will not put out its white, hairy-like fibres in time to furnish sap lor the early buds that are dependent on them; but when taken up in the tail and heeled in, the callus forms during the winter, and is ready with its new fibrous growth to furnish nourishment as soon as transplanted.