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Most Landscaping Trees That Die After the Warranty Period Are Due to Installation Error- Bergen County NJ

When new tree plantings die, why do most die after the 1-year warranty expires? Many homeowners hire a landscaper to install their new or renovated landscape design but find that once the company is long gone, they run into tons of problems with their landscaping trees. In order to keep this from happening to you in the future, let me explain the probable cause of this landscaping nightmare.

The “root” of the problem most likely lies in the way that trees are cultivated, transported, and planted. If you have ever seen a tree farm or watched your landscape design company plant your tree, you probably noticed that the root ball was wrapped in burlap. When the landscaping trees are cultivated, most are taken from the ground by a tree spade, which squeezes the root ball as it pulls the tree from the ground. Unfortunately, when the root ball is squeezed, dirt is pushed up the trunk of the tree, covering the root flare. The root flare ties the tree into the roots; it is essential for this part of the tree to be able to effectively draw water and nutrients from the ground.

The problem is compounded during inexperienced tree plantings. When these trees are planted, most landscapers may not take the time to strip away the burlap and dig the root flare out from the dirt that has been pushed up the trunk of the tree. If the tree is planted as is, the root flare could be 4 inches too deep. After the landscaping company adds topsoil and mulch, the tree could be 6 to 8 inches below grade!

Planting the tree this deep, covering the root flare with dirt, topsoil, and mulch, chokes the tree and stalls its growth or slowly kills it. The tree will have minimal growth rate because it has to work so hard to get nutrients. Over time, starving roots will grow up towards the surface of the soil. In two years time (after the warranty has expired) the struggling roots growing this way can tangle and make the tree “root bound.” This can choke it to death.

Unearthing the root flare can save trees that are planted too low; two methods of exposing the root flare are by hand-digging around the stalk until the flare is exposed. If the flare is surrounded by fibrous roots (known as “root bound”), we recommend air spading to preserve the fibrous roots and prevent the tree from going into shock from excessive root damage.

Before you hire a landscape construction company to install your new landscape, try to find out how much large tree planting experience they have. Our trees are installed with a 2-year warranty instead of the 1-year industry standard. We have our own tree farm and have many years of experience moving mature trees up to 20” in caliper. Our roots as a landscaping company allow us to successfully install and care for NJ landscaping trees for many of our pool and landscape architecture projects.

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