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HORSE SENSE: How to get instantly mature trees on your land
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HORSE SENSE: How to get instantly mature trees on your land
on 21 September 2018
The team at Caragh Nurseries in Co Kildare introduced us to the dark art of rootballing!

UNLESS you’ve been stuck down a mine for the past two weeks you will be aware that storms are wreaking havoc across the world from North Carolina to China and the Philippines.

Ireland was hit by Storm Ally and Storm Bronagh this week. Hopefully, those young trees you have on your land survived. But did did you know it’s possible to actually dig up trees and move them for the winter months? It was news to us and we are grateful to the team at Caragh Nurseries for this crash-course on ‘rootballing’.

Q: What is rootballing?

Here the tree is lifted from the ground generally during the months of November to April, with the soil intact around the root system. On removal from the ground, the rootball is wrapped in biodegradable hessian and non-galvanized wire. The root-ball should be planted intact with the hessian and wire left on. Once planted, the non-galvanized wire soon breaks down and the hessian will rot, allowing the root to develop.

The whole benefit of ‘rootballing’ is that the root system remaining after lifting (you will lose about 35% of the root on a regularly transplanted tree) will not be disturbed during handling, transportation and planting.

The semi-mature trees planted at Caragh Nurseries are allowed to grow in open ground and so they have healthy root structures. Mature trees require the correct amount of care, pruning and attention to their root structure. If the roots are allowed to grow too extensively it will not only make the tree too difficult to move, it will also mean the root structure is not as strong.

Q: Why do you rootball trees and hedging?

Once a tree reaches a certain size it requires the stability of a rootball to ensure it has the best possible start, that is usually 14-16cms. These trees are specially selected and then lifted from the field with their root system carefully enclosed and held in place with hessian, which ensures the soil remains in contact with the roots throughout lifting, transportation and planting operations.

Rootballed hedging is lifted in a similar manner and is suitable for more mature hedging and also for the majority of evergreen hedges. This encourages the best possible root system for your mature and evergreen hedging plants.

Q: What are the benefits of buying rootballed hedging?

The hessian and wire are biodegradable and therefore there is no packaging waste to dispose of. The cost of a rootballed tree can be less than a containerised tree as they are easier to handle when planting. They have a good establishment rate as they are planted in the dormant winter months.

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