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Tips for planting trees in Sacramento

Scarlet oak
Fall colors such as the leaves of this scarlet oak ( Quercus coccinea ), photographed in Elk Grove, may inspire you to plant a tree or two this fall. Follow the Sacramento Tree Foundation guidelines to ensure a healthy tree. (Photo credit: UC Master Gardener Jan Fetler)

October is great time to make major (and shady) addition to your landscape

A strong beginning leads to a lifetime of success. That’s particularly true of trees.

It takes a young tree about three full years to establish a strong root system and sturdy trunk. Mistakes made in planting can have major consequences throughout a tree’s life, including premature death.

October is considered the best month to plant a tree in Sacramento. Warm soil and cooler weather help trees put down deep roots.

But most young trees come in 5-gallon pots with few if any instructions.

To get that addition to your landscape off to the best start possible, the Sacramento Tree Foundation offers these tips:

* Remove and discard grass and weeds in a 4-foot-wide circle.

* Dig your hole 4 feet wide and 8 to 10 inches deep. Score the sides of the hole, so the inside of the hole is not smooth.

* Remove the entire root ball from the container. Thoroughly loosen and extend side and bottom roots from the root ball. Cut any roots circling the root ball with a sharp tool.

* Place the root ball in the hole so the root crown (where to trunk meets the roots) is about 1.5 to 2 inches above the surrounding ground level.

* Place the existing soil back in the hole. Do not place grass or weeds or soil amendment in the hole. When backfilling the hole, avoid air pockets by lightly tamping, but don't compact the soil. Refill the hole only up to the top of the root ball.

* Water your newly planted tree deeply after planting.

For more tips and a tree-planting video:

- Debbie Arrington


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For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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