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Machinery to Plant Trees?

 
Posts: 124
Location: Zone 7a, 42", Fairfax VA Piedmont (clay, acidic, shady)
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Well, I bought a bunch of cheap trees online, and am now learning that digging a big hole in my rocky, clay soil is a "hole" lotta work.  Irrigation (on a home scale) is also tricky - I have a feeling I may lose a lot of trees, and will just be forced to buy more for the fall.  What is the best mechanical way to plant a lot of trees in difficult soil?  I may just rent a large rear-tine tiller and work the soil about 3 ft diameter in all the locations I want trees, add legumes with light mulch, and then try to plant something there in the fall. I imagine I would want to plant my fall trees and cover crops after highs consistently get down to the low 70s - maybe early October in my climate.

I'm looking to prep for 100+ holes across a very hilly 1.5 acres.

My other option is to just start planting tree seeds this fall in a raised bed, put down hardware cloth to protect from rodents, and hopefully by Fall 2020 have some seedlings to transplant!  Or perhaps just plant a few seeds in a little hole, put up a large tree guard/stake, and hope for the best?

BTW, I got a very nice 3" wide 10" long auger for my Ryobi cordless hammer drill (battery doesn't last long but does bulbs pretty well).  https://powerplanter.com/product/plant-auger-starter-pack-for-homeowners/  These people recommended the Echo EDR-260 auger, which I may save up for with one of their bigger auger bits.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 11539
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I strongly recommend planting seeds in their final location. They can find their own way between rocks and are much more drought tolerant because they can develop proper taproots.  I think you will ultimately have greater success.

 
gardener
Posts: 2433
Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
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Hi Josh;    A tractor with an auger will do the job.  Your hand held is just the small version.  
I suspect if there are any farms in the area, then one of them will own an auger for his tractor. He may work by the hour to bore your holes.

It's possible a rental store might have the same tractor/auger outfit that you could rent and operate yourself.
A rear tine tiller is a wonderful piece of equipment , but I would use that for your garden. Tillers just don't get deep enough to let a tree get started.
 
gardener
Posts: 2844
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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The type and size of trees will determine the method. I am associating cheap with small. Small equals small hole.

This year i used a flat bar/rock bar/digging bar. I hope one of the names is correct. A 5-6ft solid bar thats flat on one end. It did well on a rocky limestone slope where i was concerned that my skidsteer wouldnt be safe.

With pecans i use an auger because of the depth of the roots.
 
Josh Garbo
Posts: 124
Location: Zone 7a, 42", Fairfax VA Piedmont (clay, acidic, shady)
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Thank you.  I would prefer using a hand-held auger... my land is not real open for a tractor and I live in suburbia.  Would a big auger hole (ft wide, three ft deep say) be advantageous to break up the soil, even if my root ball was much smaller?
 
wayne fajkus
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I use the auger, then taper the hole like a funnel shape using the flat bar. If the hole is deep then the bottom will fill with the side scrapings. Saves from scooping it out.
 
Josh Garbo
Posts: 124
Location: Zone 7a, 42", Fairfax VA Piedmont (clay, acidic, shady)
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I'm looking at apples, pears, plums, paw-paws, persimmons, hazelnuts, chestnuts.  Prepping the holes with an auger over the summer for a fall planting may work.

Will also try seed plantings, just loosening the soil with my flower bulb mini-drill-auger for those and adding plastic deer guard.
 
gardener
Posts: 6414
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Remember that you don't want to plant the tree any deeper than where the root ball soil is on the trunk.

Breaking up the soil away from the trunk is far more productive than going deep since the roots will not have a tap root that will go deep.
The hole should be three times the diameter of the root ball and about half again as deep as the root ball which is then back filled and tamped.

Augers are great for making a lot of tree hole starts but then you still will have shovel work to do to ensure the tree will thrive once planted.
Be sure to water the tree in half way through filling the hole and then again once all the soil is back in place.
It is also a good idea to come back with water after about three days of planting, at this watering it is a good idea to have water with some B-12 mixed in to help the roots get kick started into growing.

Trenchers are another tool that can be used for getting tree holes started, they are more cumbersome than augers and usually more expensive to rent.

Redhawk
 
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