Friday, April 16, 2010

Planting trees for soil reclamation



Trees improve the quality of air and have beneficial effects on people's health. Trees improve the overall aesthetic of the landscape, provide habitat and forage for native animals, give shade and decrease the localized heat, and improve the water quality in the streams and in the subsoil. When they reach maturity such trees become valuable for sustainable forestry by the land owner.

But more importantly the roots of the trees bind and hold the soil together and prevent erosion. They are most important in the reclamation of land destroyed by mining, logging, and over grazing. Previously the standard procedure for strip mine restoration was to compact the soil and spray it with a mixture of water, grass seeds, fertilizer, and mulch. Now the method is to also dig up the soil for planting trees as part of the reclamation, because the grass roots do not go deep enough to hold the soil together.

The planting hole should be twice as wide as the root ball of the tree sapling. The depth of the planting hole should be as deep as the actual root ball. Since the saplings are grown in containers the roots tend to circle around and bunch together; while in trees that grow naturally in the wild the roots spread out evenly. So before planting, straighten or cut through any circling roots, taking care not to disturb the main central root. Make three or four vertical cuts through the outside roots, which will promote quick, lateral root growth. Trees also need adequate space to grow: 60 square feet for small trees, 120 square feet for medium-sized trees, and 180 square feet for large trees.

Pretty Girls