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Tree Planting

Took a little video of me transplanting some cedars the other day, thought I'd share. It's so easy to pop these things out and move them around. Are others cleaning the roots off after they pop them out or leaving the dirt and grass roots around the cedar roots? I debated which to do and decided to clean the roots off for two reasons; it makes it easier to transport many more cedars without the extra weight of the dirt and doesn't leave a hole in our pasture.

Not saying this is the perfect way to do it or the only way, but this gives you an idea how one person has done it. :)

Transplanting Cedars video
I always left it a root ball just hoping that it wouldn't stunt it as much. Not sure if there's truth to that but a guy could easily do an experiment.
I always left it a root ball just hoping that it wouldn't stunt it as much. Not sure if there's truth to that but a guy could easily do an experiment.

Exactly my one concern with shaking out the roots, we'll see how these do. I thought shaking the roots out would make it like planting a bareroot seedling. So I'm hoping they do alright but if they don't then we have a pretty good idea why. :)
I think you'll probably be fine with the smaller trees and shaking the dirt off. The 4 ft and larger trees I try to leave as much dirt on as possible to help hold moisture in while transplanting and keep from damaging the roots any more than I have to. Keep in mind the larger trees will need more water more often. You can't just stick a 4 ft tree in and not check on it every couple of days.
I completely agree, the small ones, shake off, especially if it is going to be a while before you plant and you need to soak in water. I've had good luck transplanting large 4-5 footers but I try to keep a 3 foot diameter of the surface roots intact and then lift those up to get the basketball sized rootball (that someone mentioned earlier) below and as much taproot as you can before breaking it or cutting it. Great video!
Today was a tree delivery day from Cold Stream and a fraction of my order from MDC, pretty excited to get started this weekend!

Also, my Mulberry cuttings are starting to pop!
Great stuff Wailz! Be sure to keep us posted on how those cuttings do over the summer. Mine have sprouted as well but are yet to send down any roots. We'll see how thing progress with them though!

Great points about the larger cedars guys! I did dig up 10 larger 3-5ft ones last night and another 41 smallers ones. I left the rootball intact on the larger ones this time. Really it isn't too difficult to do but would be nicer if a guy had a spot he could drive up to with a trailer and load it up with cedars of this size.

The 10 3-5ftrs had some big roots on them as you'd expect, check the tap root on this one I popped out. I had to cut that root off a bit.

What we're working towards are some small pockets of cedar bedding like this. Deer heaven!! We'll include some oaks in there too vs having just a monoculture of cedars.

I put the 10 larger ones along a timber edge to serve as a screen some day. I'll keep an eye on them throughout the summer to see how their survival is compared to the other larger cedars I broke the rootball up on and knocked all the dirt off of.


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Planted 20 more cedars today in the same are I started last week. Any where from 1 ft to 4 ft. It's very dry in SC Iowa even with the rain we've had. I would encourage everyone to water their new transplants if it's feasible. I need to find a different way to water than a 5 gallon bucket from the creek. Thinking about getting a 3/4 " gas pump if it's going to stay dry
I'm beat! Got 95 in the ground today, almost 50 nine bark, 25 black chokeberry, the rest were persimmons, Concordia oaks, and cherry bark oaks. Anybody had any luck with cherrybark or swamp chesnut in Iowa? I only got 10 of each, I'm pretty sure the cherrybark are not even meant for N. Missouri. Tomorrow I've got whites, swamp whites, and chinquapin to do.
I was able to swing by the farm and check on my plantings from a few weeks ago, it is soooo exciting to see the baby trees and shrubs start to pop!

It's always good to see the young seedlings come to life after a pile of hard work. We have 82 in the ground so far this year - northern red oaks, wild plums, silky dogwoods, and flowering dogwoods.

I have some potted chinkapin and concordia oaks yet to plant...plus some evergreens that I just got last night. Still a ton of work to do, but at least the evergreens don't get cages...even though I think our evergreens could use them. Check out this spruce damage from this past winter in southcentral PA.

Great work fellas! In IA spruces and pines would look the same after winter, cages are a little bit of a pain, take time, and $ but are worth it if you want higher survival on your trees.
So far the transplanted cedars look great. They're showing signs of life but we'll watch them throughout the summer to follow their progress. The biggest problem I ran into with transplanting the cedars was animals digging them up after I planted them. That's something we always struggle with when planting trees though.

These one happen to be the 3-5ft trees I left the rootball intact

We have no oak diversity on our farm, it is 100% bur oaks. So we really focus on growing other types of oaks. We've planted reds, whites, pins, and chinkapins by bareroot seedling 3 yrs ago and here is what they look like today... as with all tree plantings... some look amazing and others leave you scratching your head as to what went wrong

Some of the trees in this planting have taken off, mostly the red oaks!

18" of new growth this year so far, and it's only mid May


Many growing in the tubes and hopefully find their way to the top of the tubes this year

White oak nearing the top, they're slower growing compared to the reds

While some trees go nuts and put on 2ft or more of growth a year... there are many like this. :? Great ~2ft the first year... died back... grew ~2ft the second year... died back... repeating the same deal every year. Not sure these trees will every reach maturity, that's just part of planting trees

I did plant a few acorns last fall and this spring, some are just now sprouting

One of the many cedars we planted



The biggest red oak - about 12ft tall after 3 growing seasons. Planted as a 1-2ft tall bareroot seedling. That is some impressive growth! I just wish more would've done this

White oak already out of the tube. I believe this is the first white oak to make it out of the tubes in this planting

This tree confuses me... two years ago it was 6ft tall and well out of the tube. Last year it died back and sent out new growth from the stump but did grow 6ft and reached well outside the tube again. This year... it hasn't greened up and looks pretty dead. What the heck?

Here is another tree planting, the first tree and shrub planting we ever did. I believe it was back in 2009 so it has 6 growing seasons and is going into #7. This area is very wet and swampy, poorly drained soil. We've mowed it every year since but do not intend on mowing any more

The trees in here were black walnut and shagbark hickory. The shagbarks all died the first year and the walnuts did very well. Eventually the wet area in the planting claimed the lives of many of the walnuts but some have done ok. Especially this one. Last year I checked on it and noticed the bottom of the tube had become jammed with walnuts leaves and they were decomposing and eating away at the bark. I removed the debris, opened the tube, removed the t-post and crossed my fingers the tree would survive. So far things look ok


Some more trees that thankfully did not die back and hopefully will take off this year

Again I planted acorns in this areas, all swamp white oaks

Not sure you've noticed or not but all of the tree planting pics shown in this post had some weed growth around them... that's because I haven't sprayed them at all this year. I used to spray them with a heavy dose of residual herbicides and it'd keep 99.9% of any vegetation from growing around the tree. Problem that created was it left a lot of exposed dirt which had lead us to erosion problems around the bottom of the tubes. So this year I'm waiting for the weeds to just begin to get out of control before spraying, hoping to minimize erosion. Many tubes look like this... and they were pressed into the ground as of last fall. :? This leads to the tube bouncing back and forth in the wind which eventually breaks many of the tubes.

Another tree that confuses me. It used to be the most vigrous growing walnut in here. One year it took off and the next had lots of die back... now this year it has died back completely and has a few sprouts in the middle of it's trunk. I don't get it?

The wild plums and other shrubs we planted have done excellent. Now they're beginning to send out suckers to eventually create a thick line of great habitat


One of the troubles we had with this planting was it gets really swampy in the middle. None of the trees we planted could handle it and the only shrub that's loved the swamp is the red osier dogwood

I got a couple red maple bareroot seedlings given to me so I put them in this planting, they're off to a great start!


Before I mentioned how I've heald back spraying the weeds around the trees... I should add that I am spraying the grasses around the trees. Trying to keep those at bay from getting to choking on the young seedlings
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I'm going for broke on some of the confusing ones. Pulling the tubes and see if that changes anything.
Tree plantings are by far my favorite type of habitat work but they are not easy and it seems there are a 100 different ways to kill a tree before it has a chance to reach maturity. This past weekend went to check on a tree planting and noticed that the heavy dew and no winds made the large, flimsy red oaks really fold over... and right into the deer browse range.


So I shook the water off them and they stood back up. I'm sure they'll get a stronger backbone on them soon. I tell you what, if it isn't one thing with tree plantings it is another. Seems like something is always out to kill the trees. Just when you think you've got a good 7-9ft tall oak going and it's well past danger... something still finds a way to get at it.

Then I noticed that some deer were even able to nip the tops of the trees as they came out of the 5ft tall tubes. I've never seen that before on our place... hope they don't make a habit of that.


But with the sunshine and some wind I think they'll get a strong backbone on them pretty quick. Might tie them up for this year just to help them along.

But for now I just braced them up with some of their dead limbs

We've planted 1000s of bareroot seedlings but I'm starting to just direct seed acorns and cover them with tubes to replace the areas we lost bareroot seedlings. I'm curious how this works out compared to the bareroots... it is definitely easier to plant and you can do so in a higher # but we'll see how they do... one problem I can see down the road these acorns are at risk for wrapping their roots around the t-post and when we remove the post we could cause the tree harm. We'll just have to see how things work out, we'll loose many along the way but we just need a few to survive to call this a success.

Been focusing a lot on soft mast shrubs that are beneficial for the pollinators along with the mammals. They are starting to fruit now. Never seen a serviceberry in my area...which is sad so some had to be planted.

The shrub cocktail is coming to life as well. Chokeberry, serviceberry and hazelnuts in this clump and all are doing well.

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