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In the wake of the ongoing ongoing climate change, it is increasingly evident that trees represent an irreplaceable element. In fact, trees are responsible for a whole series of benefits for our ecosystems. In the range of their innumerable functions, it should be remembered that they:
- They absorb C02, among the main causes of the greenhouse effect;
- They regulate the water flow, counteracting hydrogeological instability phenomena;
- They generate a more favorable microclimate;
- They act as natural barriers against wind and noise pollution;
- They protect from Drought;
- They are valuable habitats for wildlife;
- They embellish the landscape.
The list of these benefits makes clear the importance of proceeding with constant and regular planting, even in city environments. A growing number of Italian municipalities, including Milan, are adopting policies aimed at carrying out a progressive urban forestation work. But what can an individual citizen do to contribute instead?
In addition to participating in the many days dedicated to planting that are organized by various types of bodies and associations, anyone who owns a garden or green space can decide to plant one or more trees. Let's find out all the steps to follow to reach the goal.
How to plant a tree: choice of plant
Planting a tree is not the same as just digging a hole, burying the plant you have chosen. It is necessary to take into consideration a series of elements including: the climate of the area in which the planting takes place, the type of soil and - very important detail in terms of protection of biodiversity - verification of the species you want to plant.
In fact, not all plants are suitable for the geographic areas in which they live. Furthermore, it is essential not to plant alien species, also commonly referred to as alien plants. With the term "Allochthonous species" it indicates a species, be it animal or vegetable, which for various reasons finds itself growing and developing in a different territory from the place where it usually lives. The introduction of non-native plants is always very risky as it can involve the degradation of a habitat, becoming a serious threat to native plants and animals, and consequently causing significant environmental and economic impacts. A similar picture occurs above all in cases where the introduced plant becomes invasive, spreading very easily.
The choice of the tree must therefore be evaluated with great attention before causing, even if inadvertently and in good faith, potential damage to the surrounding environment.
Checks to be done before planting a tree
For a correct evaluation of the better trees to plant it is advisable to ask the responsible bodies for clarification. A good practice may consist in contacting the Carabinieri Forestali in one's own area of belonging who will be able to provide the information necessary for an adequate choice, in compliance with the directives on the subject of alien species.
The Presidential Decree 120/2003, which modifies and integrates the DPR 357 / 1997- Implementation regulation of the Habitat Directive, in Article 12 introduces the explicit prohibition of the introduction, reintroduction or repopulation in nature of alien species. As reported on the website ofISPRA, the Regulation (EU) 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species, also establishes the rules to prevent, minimize and mitigate the impact on biodiversity, ecosystem services, human health and economy due to the introduction and diffusion, both deliberate and accidental, of invasive alien species within the European Union. The list of alien species is constantly updated and reviewed at least every six years. All the species on the list cannot be intentionally introduced into the European territory nor released into the environment.
Alongside the strictly legislative aspect, other aspects to be evaluated before proceeding with the planting of a plant concern the climate as well as the type of soil that distinguishes the green space in which the planting is carried out.
Depending on the region in which you are located, in fact, the climatic conditions can be decidedly different, especially in mountain areas. There are various parameters to keep in mind in this sense. For example, you need to be informed about humidity levels as well as on the characteristic winds of the area under consideration. Only an adequate knowledge of the climate of your area allows you to grow plants that can then be luxuriant.
As a further precaution, before planting a tree it is advisable to accurately analyze the type of soil on which the plant will be planted, considering aspects such as the chemical-physical composition of the soil, the slope or the drainage. It is equally important to pay attention to the theme of space. In order to develop properly, any plant must have its own living space, without running the risk of any nearby plants being put in difficulty.
This is an aspect highlighted by the law itself: any owner who intends to plant trees is required to respect certain distances between the trees and the boundary of his property. Going more specifically, the Civil Code, in art. 892, establishes the distances that the owner of a property is obliged to respect between the trees planted on his land and his own border.
Respect for distances has multiple purposes, including that of:
- Avoid the occupation of other people's land by the roots of their trees;
- Do not harm neighbors who may be subject to a decrease in light, sunshine and air;
- Protect the trees themselves, ensuring that each plant grows in a space suited to its characteristics.
Based on what is reported in the Code, in the absence of different indications provided by specific local regulations on the subject, it is necessary to respect the following distances from the border:
- Three meters for tall trees;
- One and a half meters for non-tall trees;
- Half a meter for the vines, shrubs, live hedges, fruit plants no more than two and a half meters high. However, the distance must be one meter, if the hedges are alder, chestnut or other similar plants that are cut periodically near the stump, and two meters in the case of locust tree hedges.
Where to buy a tree to plant
Once an in-depth analysis has been carried out on the ground, on the climate as well as on the laws governing planting, you can go on to purchase. At this point the function of the nursery comes into play. This type of center deals with the cultivation and production of flowers, plants, trees, seeds and bulbs for sale. Unlike a Garden Center, a nursery usually has particular identifying structures, such as a covered and uncovered surface of suitable dimensions for the cultivation of nursery products.
A direct purchase from the nursery allows you to choose the plants from many specimens, as well as to check their health status. The production is in fact carried out according to the rules of the national genetic-health certification, based on the dictates of the official system of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies (MIPAAF). The purposes are multiple:
- Ensure healthy plants from a phytosanitary point of view;
- Produce superior quality material on the genetic front;
- Preventing the spread of diseases;
- Guarantee the traceability of the supply chain.
How much does a tree cost to plant
Very often, by contacting a nursery you can save on the final price. The cost varies according to the type and size of the plant that will be planted. The most common garden trees are generally relatively inexpensive. In the event that you opt for plants of a certain value, the expense to be incurred is obviously higher.
When to plant a tree: best time
For to be able to guarantee the tree to grow and survive without difficulty, it is essential to plant it at the right time. The ideal period varies from plant to plant and is also linked to the climatic characteristics of the area in which you live. Generally, the best time span coincides with the time when the tree is dormant and not in full bloom.
There are numerous species that can be planted throughout the year, with the exception of moments at risk of frost or excessive summer heat. From October to April, on the other hand, it is the usually preferable period for planting fruit trees, which can thus take advantage of the winter humidity to root well, then having the opportunity to grow vigorously in the spring months.
Even in this case, however, it can be extremely useful to contact experts, such as nurserymen or agricultural policymakers of their own Municipality.
Planting a tree from a seed
When you decide to to plant a tree starting from a seed, it is necessary to follow a series of steps, also remembering that it is a much longer and more complex method. The seed must first be sprouted, burying it at the right time, and then taking care of the sprout until it is robust enough to be planted.
In order for the seed to germinate, it is necessary to proceed with the so-called scarification. There are several techniques to do it. The most common and safest for seeds is mechanical scarification which consists in smoothing the integument with sandpaper or simple files. In this way, the outer covering of the seed is broken allowing moisture to penetrate inside and consequently triggering the embryonic process.
Once the seeds have germinated, they need to be planted in individual containers or in a seed tray. The containers or the tray are then transferred to a ventilated and sunlit environment. To achieve the goal, it must be remembered that each seed can resort to distinct treatments depending on the tree of origin.
Planting from a seed is a little used method since it is not possible to know a priori the characteristics that the plant destined to be born will possess.
Planting a tree from a "seedling": the step by step procedure
When you are planting a tree in your garden or in a plot of land, it is advisable to delimit the chosen area in order to make it easily identifiable. To do this, you can use a special spray paint with a bright color. The area must be chosen carefully, evaluating the presence of any obstacles, such as power lines, as well as the space needed to prevent the tree, once it has grown, from causing damage to its root system.
After carrying out this type of analysis, proceed as follows:
- Measure the root system. Through a correct evaluation of the dimensions of the roots it is possible to establish the depth of the hole to be excavated;
- Prepare the hole. Using a shovel, you can dig the hole, making sure it is large enough to accommodate the tree and allow proper root development. The hole should be about two to three times the width of the root ball. It must also be at least as tall as the latter. The soil present in the bottom of the hole must be broken up in order to favor the drainage of the water and the deepening of the roots of the plant;
- If it is necessary to secure the plant to a stake, stick it in the bottom of the hole near the point where the plant will have to be;
- Insert the tree gently into the hole, after cutting the roots that are torn or broken;
- Once the plant has been introduced into the hole, check that the hole is not shallow. It is essential, in fact, that no roots remain exposed;
- Arrange the shaft so that it is as straight as possible. Its location will affect its future growth;
- Cover the roots with the previously removed earth, until almost reaching the upper edges of the hole;
- At this point, fill the remaining part of the hole with compost or mature manure. When the soil is not very rich in nutrients, is clayey or has a sandy consistency, compost or manure favors a good start of growth for the tree. However, it is advisable to avoid the manure coming into contact with the roots;
- Cover the hole again with earth;
- Squeeze the ground lightly with your feet, in order to compact it, but without exaggerating the pressure exerted in order not to break the thinnest roots. A small depression will thus form around the plant;
- When the brace is present, tie the tree to the latter using a wicker;
- After transplanting, distribute water to facilitate the settlement and adhesion of the earth between the roots;
- Complete the job, covering everything with a last layer of dry earth in order to reduce the loss of moisture by evaporation and in order to compensate for the settlement of the land;
- As a last step, level and arrange the surface around the plant.
Plant a tree in a pot
The planting of a potted tree can be done almost all year round, with the exception of the period between June and August. It is advisable to choose a pot that is heavy and able to ensure good drainage to the plant.
Before proceeding with planting, it is advisable to immerse the tree in water for an hour. As a next step, you need to fill the pot about ⅓ with good quality plant soil.
After gently shaking the roots to untangle them a little, the plant can be placed back in the pot, filling it with soil to the brim. Finally, the earth must be pressed lightly so as not to damage the roots.
Taking care of the planted tree: watering and mulching
Once the plant is well placed, it is necessary to water it carefully. For a few weeks the tree should be watered daily, in order to stabilize the roots in the soil. Subsequently, the frequency can be decreased by wetting the plant with a certain regularity, depending on the climatic conditions of the area that hosts it.
As a further precaution, a layer of mulch to retain moisture, prevent the development of weeds and protect the roots.
For proper care of the planted tree it is also advisable to proceed with one periodic pruning, when necessary. Sick, damaged or dead branches should be removed gently, using special garden shears.