Many times a homeowner will be tempted to use a lower priced tree or shrub. Often these plants will have an underdeveloped root structure that is unable to support the plant. The root structure may be overgrown from being in a container too long. It may have broken branches or damaged bark. Ensure the plant is suited for the hardiness zone you live in. Check with a local nursery if you are unsure of which zone you live in. If you choose a tree or shrub that will outgrow the location you have chosen, move it to another location. Try to imagine what the plant will look like in 15-20 years, this will aid in your selection of location. By doing this you will cut down on the need for excessive pruning in later years. Generally trees and shrubs of poorer quality will be slow to establish themselves, they will exhibit signs of reduced vigor, die-back, and poor growth.
Characteristics of a location will also contribute to transplant problems. Almost all trees and shrubs need a well-drained soil that is moist. Many areas within an urban environment are poorly drained. The soil pH level may be unsuitable for the tree or shrub you have selected. Most trees and shrubs also require a specific sun and shade schedule. A poorly chosen site will affect a tree or shrub in many ways. Poor growth, and or poor colour will occur. Generally speaking trees and shrubs in poor locations will also not respond favourably to a good fertilizer program or good cultural practices.
By planting incorrectly you dramatically increase the chance of your new tree or shrub failing. Several things that can go wrong are as follows. Many times the homeowner will plant too deep or too shallow. By planting too deep you have a good chance of suffocating the roots. This is caused by oxygen deprivation. Planting too shallow can cause exposure of the root structure. This will cause drying out of the root system and kill the plant. Watering improperly is another problem encountered by the homeowner.
By watering too much you run the risk of root decay or you have the potential to drown the roots. By watering too little the plant becomes stressed and could eventually die. Leaving wire, string, rope, or burlap on the plant can encourage girdling which can eventually kill the plant in later years. Improper staking can cause the plant to be blown over in severe weather. If you leave the staking material on too long you once again run the risk of girdling.
When you are planting your new tree or shrub ensure you correct as many of these problems as possible. Do not purchase plants with poorly developed root structures. Ensure the plant is compatible with the zone in which you live. Solve any drainage and pH problems before you transplant your new addition. Remove all burlap, wire, string, or rope that has the potential to cause girdling in later years. Make sure you plant at the proper depth. Generally you do this so the top roots are just covered by soil. Water deeply and infrequently. This will encourage your new plant to develop deep roots that will aid in stability in the years to come. Water slowly as this will enable more moisture to be taken in by the plant. Watering quickly causes run-off and is just wasting your time and money. Stake your plant if it is in an exposed area to wind.