Getting the Best Result.
Have you had disappointing results and you're not sure what went wrong? Then you could consider the tactics of tree planting?
Know your adversaries. When tree planting your adversaries are likely be:
- Starting too late;
- Dry soil;
- Compacted soil;
- Poorly drained soil;
- Exposed aspects;
Uncontrolled wild herbivores like rabbits, hares and Swamp Wallabies.
Timing. In the dryer parts of central Victoria all planting should be completed by the end of September.
This helps newly planted trees & shrubs survive our typically hot & dry Springs. To achieve this critical goal all weed control and fencing needs to be completed at least a month before planting.
Soil moisture. Having your planting site weed free by the end of July is critical to conserving soil moisture.
This will ensure that you have good deep soil moisture well into November even without good Spring rains. Your weed free zone should consist of 1 - 2 metre wide strips or spots.If Perennial grasses like phalaris are present then the wider strips & spots are necessary.
It is important to keep this 1-2 metre area around each plant weed free for 12 months and up to 24 months after planting for struggling plants or dry sites.
Mature trees will also dry the soil well beyond the spread of their canopy. Overcoming this involves deep ripping or coppicing a year in advance of planting.
Plantations on dry hillsides will benefit from ripping along the contour. This catches rainfall & run-off and funnels it deep into the soil where it supports the newly planted seedlings.
Soil structure. Good soil structure is essential for a good result.
Compacted soil will need time or mechanical aeration to restore good structure. Ripping is the usual method of aerating compacted soils. Heavy clay soils that crack in the summer are locally called 'self rippping' soils. We don't recommend mechanically ripping these soils because the summer cracking is likely to become extreme along the rip lines. Scarifying after ripping will reduce this problem and make planting easier.
Compaction is usually caused by the traffic of hard-hoofed animals or heavy machinery on very wet soils and a lack of humus will also limit a soil's ability to naturally aerate and recover from compaction.
Checking for compaction. You can check the compaction of moist soil with a standard screwdriver which should push in vertically with relative ease. If it takes a lot of effort then it is likely that the soil is compacted and ripping will be required. This should be done about 6 -18 months in advance of planting. The longer period allows more time for the soil to settle and remove air pockets.
Poorly drained soil. Choosing the correct plant species is critical.
Often the common names of plants suggest their suitability (River...., Swamp......,or Bog......,) for poorly drainded soil.
Ask your local expert or check a good reference book to make sure. (Recreating the Country - Ch. 5)
Where the seed is collected (the provenance) is also important. For example seedlings grown from seed collected from Swamp Gums on a hillside may not do as well as seedling Swamp Gums from a moist gully when planted into poorly drained soils. Click here to See our plant list for suitable species.
Exposed aspects. Planting sites that face the north or west are dryer.
Because they get a lot more Summer sun and drying winds than sites facing south or east.
Again it is a matter of choosing the correct plant species. Locally, Yellow Gum does well on northern and western aspects as does the Drooping Sheoak and indigenous shrubs like the Giant Hop-bush, the Snowy Mint-bush and Fragrant Salt-bush. Some of the non-local native plants like hakeas and melaleucas are also well adapted because they come from hot and dry climates.
Rabbits, hares and Swamp Wallabies. Wild herbivores can do a lot of damage.
Eradicating rabbits and hares before planting is the cheapest solution. Controlling Swamp Wallabies is more difficult because they are a protected species.
For plantations with only a few rabbits, hares or wallabies, a handfull of blood & bone dropped at the base of each plant has worked on some properties.
The commercially available repellent Sen-Tree (acrylic polymer adhesive, egg powder and silicon carbide grit) can be applied to plants before they leave the nursery for 10 cents/plant.
Tree guards are still the most widely used protection and are available as plastic sleeves or milk cartons, the latter being the cheaper option and recommended for waterways as they will break down and not create a hazzard for marine life.
See our product prices.