Always call SC811 before you dig to locate any public utility lines. Allow 3 workdays for the locate to be completed and verify a positive response by calling SC811 or checking the online portal. Plant trees a minimum of 10ft away from buildings or structures. Plant trees to maintain a 10ft clearance off of power lines at maturity. Allow appropriate root space for the mature size of the species.
What to Plant
In upstate South Carolina, we are in either hardiness zone 8a or 7b. Check the hardiness zone requirements of desired plant materials before purchasing. Evaluate the site conditions: drainage; hours of sunlight; proximity to structures, pavement, overhead utilities; available root space; and human concerns.
Upstate Greenery (15 Gallon Container Trees + Field-grown Trees), Simpsonville
Follow guidelines from the international society of arboriculture to plant trees. Dig a hole 3x the size of the rootball. It’s essential to plant trees at the proper depth (where the root flare is level with or 1″-2″ above ground level) to ensure healthy growth and prevent rot. Remove seatbelt strap, wire caging, and burlap from field-grown trees. Check the tree for and remove girdling (circling or strangling) roots before planting. Container trees must be root pruned before planting by slicing 1″ of the rootball away on all sides. New root growth will regenerate from clean cuts. Use native soil to backfill, with only 10% soil amendment mixed into the top 1/2 of the hole. Apply mulch 2″ thick; no mulch should touch the trunk of the tree. Water to saturate the rootball and surrounding soil. Stake trees only if necessary.
The first two years after planting is critical to the survival of a tree. Watering is the single most important thing you can do to make sure your tree survives. Mulch is an important piece of that. Mulch helps retain soil moisture. Keep young trees mulched for best results- read the mulching guidelines below to learn more. Young trees should be pruned 3 times in the first 5 years after planting to establish a healthy growth structure moving into maturity (and out of reach). Find pruning instructions below.
Mulch is one of the best things to do to care for a young tree. It adds nutrients to the soil, maintains soil moisture, protects tree trunks from lawn mowers, and prevents competition from grass and weeds. The best type of mulch for trees is hardwood mulch. Use the 2-2-2 Rule: 2 inches AWAY from the trunk (never touching), 2 inches deep, and AT LEAST 2 feet wide (mulch may be applied as wide as the drip line of the tree to maintain tree health). Mae sure to rake back / break up existing mulch before applying new mulch.
Volcano mulching (piling mulch up against the trunk) can damage trees by holding in moisture and causing trunk rot. Correcting volcano mulch is important for tree health. To correct over-mulching, pull mulch, and, if applicable, soil and feeder roots away from the tree trunk until a root flare (a main lateral root extending from the trunk) is exposed. Cut away any roots left above ground with a pruning tool for clean cuts. If present, remove any girdling or circling roots.
Newly planted trees need watering for the first 2 years after planting. As a general rule, water 10 gallons per week for each inch of trunk diameter. However, the amount of water a new tree needs depends on A) the soil type and drainage at the site, B) the species, and C) the time of year. Get to know your tree- insert a finger into the rootball 2″-3″. Is the soil dry? It needs water. Is the soil so wet you could squeeze water out? It’s overwatered- let it dry out. Is the soil moist? It doesn’t need water today. A slow and deep watering is best for the tree.
Every injury made to a tree is permanent. Trees seal over injuries and are most effective at compartmentalizing decay with clean pruning cuts just outside the branch collar. Do not seal pruning wounds with chemicals or paint. Dead, damaged, and diseased branches can be removed anytime. The best time to prune trees is in the winter, when the tree is dormant and offers a better view of branch structure. Structural pruning looks to correct co-dominant leaders, clearance, crossing limbs, and branch spacing along the trunk. No more than 20% of a tree should be pruned off in one year.
Different soil and site types require different fertilization treatments. A soil test is the most accurate way to supply a tree with the nutrients it needs. Always follow label instructions. For trees, use a slow-release fertilizer with low nitrogen and mycorrhizae.
Only stake leaning trees. Trees without stakes develop better wind resistance. Use a broad material like arbortie to fasten the stake to the tree. Create a loop around the trunk of the tree with a sizeable gap so as to prevent the arbortie from girdling or strangling the trunk as it grows. Remove stakes after one year.
Do you have concerns about the health of your tree? Do you need a professional tree service? It’s a good idea to have a trusted arborist visit your property to identify any concerns and help you create a plan for the trees on your property into the future. We recommend finding an arborist with insurance who is ISA certified.
Here are some signs of tree risk. This is not a comprehensive list, and if you have concerns, please call an ISA certified arborist.
large, dead branches
cavities or rotten wood along the trunk or in major branches
mushrooms present at the base of the tree
cracks or splits in the trunk or where branches are attached
adjacent trees fallen over, died, or recently removed
trunk developed a strong lean
recent construction near the tree or root zone
early color change / leaf drop
topped or heavily pruned branches
Use this search tool to find an ISA certified arborist near you: Find an Arborist
Benefits of Trees
Trees improve air quality, manage stormwater runoff, and create shade in hot urban environments. In the age of climate change, trees play a vital role in reducing our carbon footprint by sequestering carbon and lowering electricity use for cooling and heating. They also provide us with a variety of social and economic benefits like reducing crime, encouraging exercise, and increasing property value of homes and businesses.
This is a K-12 curriculum written by a Greenville County Curriculum Instructor. There is at least one lesson for each subject and each grade level. All lesson plans are aligned with SC Curriculum Standards.
If you are a teacher and would like to download our FREE curriculum, contact Kylie at firstname.lastname@example.org for an emailed copy.