Tree query? – ask the arborist

Edward Heinrich is an arborist based in Solihull where he runs the practice Umberslade Arboriculture. 

The residents of Solihull often ask him questions, and each month, he’ll be sharing some of these, and the answers. 

Q: Debbie asks: I am going to plant a tree in my garden. How high do you think should I stake it? 

A: Staking is used to hold the roots firmly until they can grow into the surrounding soil and provide anchorage to the tree. It is better to stake lower down on the trunk, ideally no higher that 1/3 of the trunk height. Staking higher can limit movement of the trunk, leaving it weak and prone to breaking. Stakes should only be needed for 2-3 years after planting. 

Q: Trevor asks: I want to apply mulch around the base of a tree. Is gravel suitable? 

A: Mulch can be used to suppress weeds. Organic mulch such as bark can also help to feed the soil. Gravel can’t do this. It can also weigh the soil and cause compaction. If you are using bark mulch, it should be stored for at least six months, and preferably 12 months, before being applied to the soil. 

Fresh bark has a low level of nitrogen and can absorb nitrogen from the soil, leaving the soil depleted.

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