Now that Arbor Day, Friday, February 19, and spring are just around the corner, the conditions will be perfect for planting new evergreen trees in time for them to establish their root systems before the summer.
Eastern hemlocks are a great choice for our area. Native to the entire Appalachian Mountain chain, they are the signature tree of our north Georgia communities, adding beauty and privacy around our homes, providing cooling shade for trout streams, supporting animal and plant diversity in the forest, and creating a healthy, almost charismatic environment for those who live, work, and visit here.
Eastern hemlocks are also a choice with special significance because they’re being threatened by an invasive insect called hemlock woolly adelgid that’s killing them by the millions in our forests where their numbers and physical access make it difficult to find and treat them. So it’s all the more important for property owners to plant them in residential settings where they can be looked after with just an inexpensive, easy-to-do soil treatment every five years to protect them.
Able to grow in settings from deep shade to full sun provided they have adequate soil moisture; hemlocks are highly versatile and serve well as wonderful specimen trees, thick hedges, or graceful forest and streamside trees. And once established, they are very low-maintenance, adding beauty and value to the property year after year.
Planting them is really simple. Dig a hole just a couple inches deeper than the root ball but three times as wide. Mix some good quality soil amendment with the native soil and put three inches of this mix back into the hole. Place the tree in the hole and refill with soil mix just to the top of the root ball. Press the soil down firmly until the tree is sitting level with the surrounding area. For the first watering, it’s a good idea to add some liquid root stimulator. After that, just water once a week for the first three months.
To adopt healthy hemlock saplings or ask any hemlock-related questions, contact Save Georgia’s Hemlocks at 706-429-8010. And for more detailed planting instructions, including illustrations and some important helpful hints, visit www.savegeorgiashemlocks.org.