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Winter is a great time to plant a tree
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Arbor Day will be Feb. 20, and now is an excellent time to plant trees.


In fact, if you use bare-root or ball-and-burlapped plants, it is critical that these trees be planted while dormant. In fact, your chances of survival for bare-root trees go down dramatically when planted after March.   


Containerized trees can be planted any time of the year.


However, fall and winter months are by far the best time to plant even containerized trees.


In all cases, the assumption is that sufficient water will be applied immediately after planting, and water is given during periods of dry weather.


When relocating trees (example: from the woods to your landscape), a few key steps can greatly enhance survival.


• Root prune the tree 6-12 months prior to transplanting. This can be accomplished with a shovel or spade. You should cut the roots a few inches closer to the trees than when transplanting.


In this way, new roots have time to develop and remain with the plant. I recommend to root prune in the fall or spring and transplant the next season.


Trees with a dominant top root; such as pines, should have their tap root cut prior to transplanting (at least three to four months).  If you do not have time to root prune, at least try to dig as much root system as possible.


• Water the tree well before trying to dig. This will ensure that the plant is not under water stress at transplanting.


• Keep the soil ball intact. Burlap or other material can be used to stabilize the root-soil mass prior to removal from the original location.


Disruption of the soil-root interface destroys the critical feeder roots and decreases water uptake capacity.


• Transplant when leaves are absent (if a deciduous tree) and air temperature is cool.  This reduces water loss from the tree at a time when water uptake capacity is reduced.


Speaking of Arbor Day, the annual tree planting will be at 3 p.m. Feb. 20 at Rock Creek Park. 


The Georgia Forestry Commission will be on hand to give free seedlings to all in attendance.  Everyone is invited to this special Arbor Day event.


Clark Beusse is the Dawson County Extension Agent.