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My trees didn't get very tall? What went wrong?

John-W-WI

Administrator
A situation we run into every season (thankfully not with too many customers). See below:

"I planted hybrids last spring, I'm in USDA Zone 6 with good soils and we had good rains. They were planted around May 1st and only grew 3 or 4 feet in their first year. Is there something wrong with the cuttings?".

If your hybrids aren't taller than you by fall something went wrong. Here is a short list of the most common mistakes:

1) They were planted without a ground cover. Cuttings planted directly into the wild with no ground cover aren't going to impress you. They will grow, but you won't see the 10'+ you should expect from them. Without ground cover they are going to receive competition from native plants robbing them of moisture and sunlight. Even if you use a 36" wide piece of ground cover, you need to keep the weeds down along the edges. At 36" wide, weeds down both sides of the ground cover only need to encroach 18" from each side to effectively negate your ground cover. You will benefit the weeds, not your trees.

2) They were planted in an area that wildlife browsed on them. Unfortunately the fresh new growth is very desirable to deer. Don't believe what you read when they say some willows are "deer resistant". They aren't. Neither are hybrid poplars or any of the others we sell. If they can, they WILL eat them. Group enclosures or tree tubes are a good solution.

3) The least likely problem is herbicides. If you spray glyphosate around the trees, you MUST be careful. It only a drop or two will either set back your trees or kill them dead. Even if you are successful in spraying a non-selective herbicide around them, they still don't get the benefit of a ground cover. Moisture will be your limiting factor.

We don't care if you use our X-Cell Ground Cover or buy plastic from the local hardware store, but we highly recommend using a ground cover. One word of warning, if you use black plastic (never use clear plastic) you need to cover it with something. The UV rays will break down plastic in a single season. Add some mulch of some kind. Pine needles, wood chips, grass clippings, anything to keep the sun off!

I hope that helps,

-John
 
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