Save Money in 2009: Transplant Free Trees

| 1/5/2009 9:16:00 AM

Early last week, while walking with the dogs through our various patches of woods, Kate noticed a large number of tree saplings and seedlings in the under story. She also noticed a number of small Eastern Red Cedar trees and a few isolated Osage orange saplings growing out in the meadows. Her question to me on New Year’s Day was whether we oughtn’t just save on our landscaping budget this year by transplanting the free trees that were provided all over the farm by Mother Nature.

A little elbow grease is all it takes to transplant free trees.

I was all for Kate’s idea, I mean who doesn’t want to save money in 2009.

Years ago, in South Dakota, when we were just starting out we had very little in the way of discretionary funds. We also had a bare piece of ground to build our homestead on … it was a lovely piece, with a creek running through it, but it was treeless, except for the massive Cottonwoods that populated the low end of the pasture and one lone Green Ash that grew up through the old windmill tower, its roots reaching clear down to the water level in the old dug well.

This free oak sapling will provide shade and acorns eventually.

Closer inspection of that piece of ground revealed a Cottonwood tree seedling nursery at the confluence of one of our waterways and the creek. With a strong need to get some large trees going quickly and to stabilize the creek bank to the west of the house, Kate and I spent many early spring days over the course of a few years digging cottonwood seedlings and saplings from our natural nursery (some about 10 feet tall) and transplanting them about a half mile away by the house. Those free trees are more than 50 feet tall today … they help protect the house from wind and they stabilized the creek bank.

Cindy Murphy
1/6/2009 5:56:01 PM

Hi, Hank and Joe. There may have been a number of things that could have resulted in the corkscrew willow dying back. Willows are not only prone to insect problems, they are also affected by a number of diseases - anthracnose and cankers being top concerns. The wood of the corkscrew willow is also very weak; the tree often suffers from wind damage. If there are suckers coming up from the base, Joe, I'd just leave it and see what happens. We had a storm damaged corkscrew willow break in half at the nursery a couple of years ago. For whatever reason, it never made it to the brush pile, but was stashed in an area on the back forty that we refer to as the "recovery zone", (probably meaning in a rush it was quicker to drop it off there since it still had some life in it, then all the way back to the brush pile). I sold it this fall; it had filled out more bushy and full than any of the other corkscrew willows, and the woman who bought it fell in love with its form.

Hank Will_2
1/6/2009 4:47:06 PM

That is wild, Joe. I have seen some young fruit trees split bark (but not die), but not a healthy willow. I wonder it there's more to it. I know there are a few insect pests that can really damage the above ground parts.

1/6/2009 10:34:33 AM

Hank, We think that is what happened, yes. We aren't in the ideal climate for a corkscrew willow, but from everything I've read they seem to be fairly hardy. Ours was thriving, and one summer it failed to sprout. Now there is a split running the length of the trunk, and the only growth we see on it is some new shoots springing from the trunk's base. Joe

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