On March 24, a small but efficient cadre of Tree Stewards and Virginia Department of Forestry staff added nine trees to the arboretum at VDOF’s headquarters in the Fontaine Research Park. Among them were two pecans, a shagbark hickory, two sugar maples, two persimmons, a bald cypress and a sourwood. Tree stewards Kathy Nepote and Allen Ingling led the effort and modeled best practices as they placed each tree in the ground. Among other things, they
- ensured that the planting hole was the correct depth to keep the tree’s root collar right at the surface,
- untangled matted and encircling roots as they removed the tree from its container,
- doused the roots with a slurry of soil and water midway through the planting,
- added another healthy dose of water when the planting was completed,
- placed mulch over the planting hole while keeping it away from the tree trunk, and
- installed a wire cage to protect the tree from deer and other browsers.
Allen cleverly used a stump grinder to dig the bowl-shaped planting holes in advance, guaranteeing that they were at the appropriate depth and turning the soil to a fine consistency. That made the planting of the trees easier and more effective.