some tips for planting trees
why plant trees?
There are many reasons that you would be planting trees, and the benefits of a well planned and structured windbreak or revegetation project are many. The benefits can include shade, shelter from wind and extreme weather, erosion control, salinity control, sediment containment, wildlife and insect habitat, carbon sequestration, fodder, privacy and aesthetics.
Types of projects can be windbreaks, fencing of creeks and eroded gullies, creating of wildlife corridors, remnant enhancement, retiring land from production, fodder plantations and plantations for medicinal honey production.
PRE PLANTING CONSIDERATIONS
There are a number of things to consider before the first seedling is planted and the site is the first one. What is the aspect? A north facing site will be exposed to hot summer winds which will affect the species that might grow well compared to a damp gully on a south facing slope. What is the soil type, or is there multiple soil types across the planting area? A sandy soil will be more free draining than a clay, with the heavier soils also having a larger water holding capacity. This will have an influence on seedling survival and optimum planting times, with the ability to plant later in the season on heavy soils. If you are planting a windbreak for livestock shelter, which direction do the coldest and hottest winds come from? In Victoria, the hot and drying summer winds tend to be northerly, so the best direction for a windbreak to provide shelter will be east/west, keeping in mind that shade will mostly be cast on the southern side of the trees in summer. The cold winds of winter are southerly, or south westerly. This requires and east/west windbreak for southerly winds, and NW/SE windbreak for south westerly winds. Windbreaks to slow down the cold winter winds are better planted at least three rows deep to give enough vegetation to remove the energy from the wind. Powerlines, shedding, yards, access tracks, troughs and pipes, and other infrastructure need to be considered, as well an any potential affect on views.
One of the best ways to find out what grows well in your area is to go for a drive. There is often remnant vegetation along roadsides or in a patch of bushland. These remnants can give you an indication of what previously existed on your property. As long as the site conditions haven't been majorly altered by irrigation,drainage or salinity, these species should still perform well. Local council environment officers and Landcare staff can also be of great assistance with species identification and advice (or your local native nursery!!). There are often native species that aren't local to your area which will also perform well, although these should not be used in indigenous revegetation projects. There are many species of Callistemon (bottlebrush), Melaleuca (paperbark), Eucalyptus (gums) and Acacia (wattle), just to name a few, that will grow extremely well away from their natural locality.
PRE AND POST PLANTING
If you are grazing livestock, before you plant any trees, finish building the fence first! I have seen several planting projects destroyed by stock when a fence hasn't been completed, trees have been planted and a gate has been accidentally left open. Please build the fence before you start planting. Timing will vary depending on your locality, but for Victoria, the best time to plant is from late Autumn through to early spring (May to October). During this period, soil moisture is generally at it's highest, temperatures at their lowest, and the seedings have a chance to establish their root system before the heat of summer. This planting window can however vary from year to year, so allow some flexibility for seasonal variation. In tropical and sub tropical areas, the wet season is the preferred time of year. Pre planting weed and grass control can be of several methods. It might be as simple as crash grazing with livestock to reduce the ground cover, spot spraying with a knockdown herbicide or ripping (in heavy clay), or a combination. Tree guards can be of great value in sites that have rabbits and hares present, or in high wind situations.
After planting, continue to keep the fence stock proof so that livestock don't eat all of your hard work. There may be a need to fill in some gaps where seedlings haven't established, and this is best done in the following year. Happy planting!