A tree sapling is an immature tree with a slender trunk. Depending on the species of tree, a sapling can be between three and 15 years old, and range in height from 2 to 10 feet (about 0.61 to 3.05 m). Saplings differ from seedlings, which are trees that are less than three years old. The principal attributes of a tree sapling, aside from its age, are trunk flexibility and smooth bark; mature trees generally have thicker, darker outer bark. Ordinarily, saplings do not produce fruit or flowers.
In most cases, the best stage at which to plant a tree is when it is a sapling. Seedlings, because of their small size and lack of development, are considerably more vulnerable to physical damage and disease. In contrast, trees that are larger than saplings are difficult to move because of their size and extensive root structure.
When planting a sapling, its size and shape at maturity should be taken into consideration. For example, the growth of a mature tree may reach overhead power lines; alter the scale of the landscape in relationship to buildings; or drop branches, leaves, and flowers in undesirable areas. Large roots can eventually enter and damage pipes in the ground or buckle nearby sidewalks and driveways.
Another consideration when planting a tree sapling is determining what areas it will shade when it grows to maturity. Air conditioning bills can be considerably reduced by the proper placement of a shade tree. Conversely, shade from the same tree might prevent light from reaching a vegetable or flower garden.
Tree saplings are usually purchased in a container or with their root balls wrapped in burlap. The optimum time for planting saplings is during the fall while the ground is still warm, which can encourage root growth. Supplemental watering may be required for a year or two after planting, at least until the complete root system has developed.
An advantage of tree saplings is their flexibility, which typically permits them to be trained into different forms and shapes. A fruit tree sapling can be espaliered by trimming off branches and using wire to encourage the tree to grow in one plane parallel to a wall or trellis. This enables the fruit to grow larger due to the warmth reflecting off the underlying surface. Tree saplings can also be bent, causing them to grow horizontally as indicators of property boundaries or landscape borders. The flexibility of tree saplings helps them bend in storms and avoid serious damage.
How Do You Grow a Tree Sapling?
Whether you want to fill your yard with trees or close empty spaces in your landscaping, there can be many reasons to add a tree sapling to your home. To begin growing one, you first need to plant it. However, to ensure you are properly prepared for planting, there are some things to do first.
Pick a Location
Once you have the sapling you want to plant, you need to carefully consider the location you are placing it in, as that spot can significantly impact its growth. It is particularly important to make sure that you are not planting them anywhere that could cause issues as the tree grows.
Take Care With Digging
Before planting, it is always crucial to contact the national call-before-you-dig number at 811 and confirm that it is safe to dig in that area. This way, you can avoid hitting any buried pipes or injuring yourself. When shoveling, you also need to ensure that you create a hole that will be large enough for your new tree. Because sapling sizes can vary, it is essential to pay attention to the size of its roots. Ideally, you should dig a hole that is two or three times as deep as the roots are wide.
How Long Do Tree Saplings Take To Grow?
Tree species can differ greatly, and because of this, the amount of time that saplings take to grow can vary, too. For example, a tree with a long lifespan, like an oak, will take much longer to develop than a tree with a shorter lifespan, like a birch. Because of this, the period that it takes for a tree to become mature can vary from several months to several years. Its location also affects maturation time. If you have planted it in a sunny area, it may grow more quickly than a tree in a shady spot.
How To Save a Dying Tree Sapling
Even if you have taken all the right steps and done everything correctly, you might notice that your sapling is either not flourishing or beginning to die. This typically occurs because of transplant shock. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help it recover and thrive.
Know the Signs of Transplant Shock
Being alert to the signs of transplant shock can help you address it in a more timely manner and reduce the damage to your tree. Keep an eye out for brown leaf tips, fall colors coming too soon, late spring budding and stunted twig or branch growth.
Keep It Hydrated
To save your young tree, one of the most important things you can do is keep it properly hydrated. Common causes of a dying sapling are that it has lost a lot of its root system and the majority of its moisture. To keep it hydrated, you should give it at least one inch of water once a week. Be careful not to overwater it, especially if your area is prone to frequent rain showers. Research the species you have to learn what its specific water needs are and keep an eye on the weather.
Along with watering your sapling regularly, something else you need to do is be patient. Even though you may want to do as much as you can to get it back to perfect health and prevent it from withering away, doing too much can actually be harmful. Remember that even if you are taking all the proper steps, the process it goes through to repair itself can still take time.