We got a new ginkgo tree to replace our dead dogwood that we planted last year. After some research (me walking around our house with a compass), I finally figured out that the problem was that our house sits about 5 º and that was why it was only getting a couple hours of sun a day. So after I stopped by Prairie Gardens and impulse bought a tree I realized that I still had to get it home.
I did get a lot of looks and even some honking and waving, and then I remembered some MacBeth
Be lion-mettled, proud; and take no careWell now I guess I also have that to worry about.
Who chafes, who frets, or where
MacGutzmer shall never vanquish'd be until
wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him.
Here is my guide to planting trees (gleaned from several uncited websites, sorry Brett) mixed in with interesting facts about Ginkgos.
1) Choose a good location
This was obviously a problem for me last time so this time I turned to science/“the internet”.
I spent way too much time on this site and scoping out my yard with a compass ( I am sure the neighbors think I am crazy now), and eventually figured out that if I moved it over 3 ft that it would get full sun except a couple hours in the morning during June and July.
Ginkgo trees are dioecious (They have male and female trees)
The male trees are relatively odorless, while the female trees produce a fruit that smells like rancid butter. This is a stark contrast to the Gutzmer house where if anyone smells like rancid butter it is the male.
2) Dig a BIG Hole
The whole should be about 3 times the total diameter of the root ball (at least twice) and about twice as deep (at least 1.5 times). This will give the roots some loosened soil to spread out into and help with drainage and watering. Oh and save the top soil separately from the clay especially in if you are in a new development like me where there is only 4-6 in of topsoil. I got a little carried away on the digging
Ginkgo’s are one of the oldest living species.
The date back more than 270,000,000 years, well before the dinosaurs who did not even make it around until somewhere around 50M years later.
3) Backfill the hole with the topsoil
Remember all that topsoil that you dug out and kept separate?
Throw that into the hole. Fill it up so that it is about the depth of the root ball (plastic pot). Tamp it down so it is not too loose. If there is excess air caught in there it could cause mold.
Ginkgos are on the endangered species list.
It’s true. I know it seems odd that I could purchase them so easily within a mile of my house, yet it is fairly well documented. So in a way I am helping to preserve a species at the brink of extinction. I guess that gives me more incentive not to kill this one.
4) Set the tree and fill around with more topsoil
Pull the root ball out of the pot. Set the tree firmly in the center of the hole and get it pointed in the direction you want it to be. Make sure it is vertical and facing the direction you want it to face. Now loosen up the root ball a little with your fingers or if it has especially tight roots around the outside use a fork some may tear it is ok it will get bound up if it is too tight. Now fill around it with more topsoil. If it looks like you are going to run short mix bagged topsoil with what you got out of the hole. This will be likely if you dug out much clay form the hole.
Ginkgo Trees are the only living member of their: Genus, Family, Order, Class, and Division.
For this reason they are often referred to as living fossils. Almost all Ginkgo relatives died more than 150 Million Years ago. They are noted by their fan shaped leaves with bifurcating veins and growth shoots.
5) Stake and stabilize the tree
Pat all of the soil down around the tree so that it is nice and firm without any voids. I like to get the longest plastic stake I can find and send it down adjacent to the trunk and as far as it will go. Then a little further into the hard clay. Then tie to the tree with some string twine or something that will not harm the trunk. If it will be in a windy area put stakes around the perimeter of the hole outside of where you were digging and tie those to the stake that is stabilizing the trunk.
Ginkgo trees can live for 1000s of years.
There are some monks in China that have some that are over 1500 years old. They are kept as a symbol of Buddhism and Confucianism.
6) Mulch and Fertilizer
Now that everything is set the tree is going to want some food. You can put some slow release fertilizer on top of the soil. If you want you can mix some in with the soil while you are filling in around the root ball. Fertilizer usually causes a rapid spurt of new growth. The new growth will not be as tolerant of harsh winter weather so it is better to fertilize in the spring/early summer not in the late summer or fall. In addition to fertilizer mulch will very slowly deteriorate and release nutrients into the soil. As an added bonus it will help to hold moisture in and keep the tree area from being a big mud hole.
Ginkgo Trees can loose all of there leaves in a single day.
Unlike other trees that may take weeks or months to loose all of their leaves, typical Ginkgo trees loose all of their fan like leaves over the course of 1-3 days. Before they start to fall they turn a bright golden yellow.
7) Water Water Water
Now you have everything planted and you are done right?
Not remotely. The first year watering is key especially if you are planting late in the season (hello.)
I like to really hose the soil down after the planting and tamp it down some more with my foot just to make sure it is all nice and compacted. After that trees like deep watering that promotes deep root growth. You can get one of those fancy bags they sell at the store or just drill a couple of 1/16 – 1/8” holes in a 5 gallon bucket, the smaller the better. Now you can fill that and set it over the tree. Move the hole closer to the trunk earlier to make sure the tree is happy during the transplant and further away after some time to promote root growth. Do that a couple of times a week for 2 years and you should be good.
Ginkgo Trees are especially tolerant of different types of soils, weather conditions, pollution, disease, and insects.
They thrive in urban areas (though they are still endangered), and can grow into very large shade trees (growing to 20-30m). They are so robust that 4 Ginkgo trees actually survived within 1-2km of the Hiroshima Blast. They were the only living things that survived that close to the blast and are still alive in the city today.
Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scornI'm watching you Elliot
The power of man, for none of woman born
Shall harm MacGutzmer.