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Tree Planting. Planning

Tree Planting. Planning

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Published by: Na kamura Nakamura on Apr 04, 2012
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PM 1676 Reviewed & Reprinted March 2004
Tree Planting:
Millions of trees are planted on both private and publiclands in Iowa. Purposes for planting trees include timberproduction, fiber production, erosion control, wildlifehabitat improvement, riparian buffer creation, improve-ment of stocking or composition in open woodlands,Christmas tree production, shelterbelt establishment,fuelwood production, watershed protection, energyconservation, and beautification.Successful tree planting involves a series of steps, eachone dependent upon the others. This publication and
Tree Planting: Establishment and Care
, Pm-1677,discuss the steps for successful tree planting, including(1) planning, (2) site preparation, (3) selecting andordering planting stock, (4) caring for the nursery stock,(5) planting methods, and (6) plantation maintenance.
A little time spent planning your tree planting projectmay mean the difference between a successful and anunsuccessful planting. Ideally, the planning processshould begin the summer before a spring planting.
Consider why you want to plant trees. Do you want togrow high value hardwoods or provide wildlife habitat orboth? Make your objectives as specific as possible.Consider both short- and long-term goals and uses of the land. Keep in mind what and how much time andresources you can devote to the project.
 Whenever possible, match tree species to optimum sitecharacteristics. Many trees survive and grow in a widerange of soil and environmental conditions, but bestgrowth is attained within a rather narrow range. Treesplanted on inappropriate soils or sites grow poorly, aresusceptible to more insect and disease damage, andsuffer high mortality.For help in evaluating soil characteristics, your countyNatural Resource Conservation Service or county exten-sion office can provide soil survey books. These containa wealth of information about soils, including texture,pH, and drainage characteristics.Table 2 gives some information about species commonlyplanted in Iowa. As a general rule, hardwoods are bettersuited to loamy or clay soils with higher moisture contentand higher fertility. Conifers do well on well-drained,coarser soils with lower fertility.
Consider both your purposes for tree planting and sitecharacteristics when selecting species combinations. Which species match your objectives and grow well onthe selected site?Generally it is best to plant as many different species aspossible. Pure plantings or monocultures may result inplantation failures, while mixed plantings provide a widerrange of potential benefits. For example, black walnutdoes better when planted with other species that providenatural pruning and form a dense canopy for shading of competition. Also, a greater diversity of wildlife typicallyuse mixed plantings. Natural woodlands in Iowa alwaysare composed of many diverse species.
Keep in mind both short- and long-term goals whendetermining specific layout. For Christmas trees,consider access lanes (fire breaks) across the plantation.For timber production, leave an access way around at
least a portion, or around one end, of the plantation forthinning, pruning, and harvesting. Successful wildlifemanagement requires both open land and wooded areas.Choose food and shelter species that desired wildlifeprefer. For erosion control, plant buffer strips alongwaterways, plant trees along contours, and avoid soil-disturbing site preparation. For aesthetic purposes, varylayout and species, use non-row plantings and sculptededges, leave openings, and consider how to create orretain views.Recommended tree spacing varies, partially dependingon the future purposes of the plantation. With widerspacing, it takes longer for trees to occupy the site. Thetrees also develop more open-grown characteristics.Narrower spacing results in more competition, bettergrowth form, and earlier natural pruning.For high-quality, high-value sawlog production, closespacing is ideal because it helps convert the field from agrass to a woodland relatively rapidly. However, closespacing requires early thinning. To meet other objectives,including wildlife habitat creation and food production,wide spacing may be more appropriate.If you plan to mow between rows, leave a space two tofour feet wider than your mower.
Table 1. Common tree spacings
5 x 55 x 106 x 66 x 107 x 77 x 108 x 88 x 10
Number of trees(per acre)
Tree planting costs include the cost of site preparation,seedlings or seed, cost of planting, and weed control forthree to five years after planting.Many combinations of these activities can producesuccessful tree plantings. For example, planting a greaternumber of seedlings (seed) per acre results in fewer yearsof maintenance before trees establish themselves.Several types of cost share assistance exist for tree plan-ting projects in Iowa. Contact an Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) District Forester early to apply.
Site Preparation
Competition from grass and weeds is the primary reasonfor failure of tree plantings in Iowa. Proper site prepara-tion beginning the summer or fall before spring plantingis the first important step to reducing this competition.Soil characteristics and existing vegetation determineappropriate site preparation. Sandy soils often require lesssite preparation than heavy soils because weeds are lesscompetitive on sand.If only annual weeds grow on a site, simply knockingthem down may be all that is necessary.Strip site preparation works well on non-competitiveperennial grasses, such as blue grass or timothy. Eliminatevegetation in strips at least four feet wide. This can bedone mechanically with tillage equipment or chemicallywith a non-selective, non-persistent herbicide, such asRoundup.For more competitive grasses, (brome, fescue, orchardgrass, Reeds canary grass), consider broadcast applicationof chemicals or tillage to eliminate competition. Broadcastcontrol is not recommended on erosive slopes, however.
alder, blackash, blackash, greenash, whiteaspen, bigtoothaspen, quakingbasswood, Americanboxeldercedar whitecherry, blackcoffeetree, Kentuckycottonwoodhackberryhickory, shagbarkhickory, shellbarklarch, Europeanloocust, blackmaple, redmaple, silvermaple, sugarmulberry, redoak, blackoak, buroak, English whiteoak, pinoak, redoak, shingleoak, swamp whiteoak, whiteosage-orangepine, jackpine, redpine, Scotchpine, whitepoplar, hybridpoplar, whiteredcedar, easternspruce, bluespruce, Norwayspruce, whitesycamorewalnut, blackwillow, Austreewillow, black
Table 2. Guide for species selection for tree planting in IowaLife span
Growth rate
Shade tolerance
intolerantintolerantintolerantintermediate very intolerantintoleranttolerant very intoleranttolerantintermediateintermediateintermediateintolerantintermediatetolerantintermediate very tolerantintermediateintermediateintolerantintolerantintolerantintermediateintermediateintermediateintermediateintolerant very intolerantintermediateintolerant very intolerantintermediateintolerantintolerant very intolerantintolerant very tolerantintermediatetoleranttolerantintermediateintolerant very intolerant very intolerant
Soil drainage*
mp, mw, wellpoor, mpmp, mw, wellmp, mw, wellmp, mwmp, mw, wellmw, wellpoor-wellpoor-wellmw, wellmp, mwpoor-wellmp, mw, wellmp, mw, wellmp, mw, wellmp, mw, wellmw, wellpoor-wellpoor-wellmw, wellpoor, mp, mwmw, wellmp, mw, wellmp, mw, wellpoor, mp, mwmw, wellmp, mw, wellpoor, mp, mwmw, wellmp, mw, wellpoor, mp, mwmw, wellmp, mw, wellwellwellmw, wellmp, mw, wellpoor-wellpoor-wellmp, mw, wellpoor-wellmw, wellpoor-wellpoor, mp
Location in state***
smn-ewsmn-esmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-esmn-esm-ewsmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-ewsm-esmn-ewsm-ewsmn-esmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-esmn-ewsm-esm-esmn-ews-esm-ewsmn-es-ewsmn-ewsmn-esmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-ewsm-esmn-ewsmn-ewsmn-ew* poor, moderately poor (mp), moderately well (mw) and well** h-high (7.2 to 7.8), m-medium (6.6 to 7.1), l-low (<6.6)*** southern (s), middle (m), and northern (n); eastern (e) and western (w)

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