Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday Lagniappe: Big Trees, Little Trees

Can you see the see the tiny, newly planted trees in this landscape?  These folks have 6, huge, mature, loblolly pines in their yard and just recently planted more than a dozen tree seedlings!  As you can see (look for the stakes) some are planted right next to the huge trees (wonder how they managed to avoid the roots) and others nearby.  I am skeptical about the placement of these trees- some seem to be species that will grow into very tall trees when mature, and they have no space to do so.  In addition, the existing mature trees will suck up all available water and nutrients in the yard (I am surprised the grass looks so good- these folks must water and fertilize frequently) robbing these seedlings of what they need to survive.  The prediction for these seedlings is dismal.  I will have to check it out over the next few years to see what happens.
The bottom line, that many gardeners (including myself in the past) often violate is to know the mature size of the plant and make sure you have the space for it before you plant!  If not, you will crowd out other plants already in the space, the new plant may be malformed and weak, or you it might threaten nearby plants and structures (like the neighbor who planted a row of tiny Leland cypress plants directly under power lines, only to have to chop these fast-growing trees down 5 years later).
Happy gardening!


Vincent Verweij said...

You could also consider that the homeowner may want to replace the loblolly pines, and not have to wait to have a replacement of that canopy. In nature, replacement trees come up from underneath all the time, so this is really not the worst idea. It protects the saplings from excessive wind, and improves the overall stratification of canopy, as opposed to having just mature trees, which, when cut down, leave a huge hole.

Judy Thomas said...

This is a very good thought. It is the case that nature replaces trees all the time, and the short trees stay short, awaiting an opening to grow, sometimes for 50 years. But putting seedlings in the midst of enormous trees roots, with water-thirsty plants (like grass), may be a challenge. I will see what happens over time. A few of the seedlings have died and been replaced since they were first planted, but this just might be typical mortality of a new planting. Thanks for the comment!