Planting a tree is one of the most straightforward ways to make a long-term difference in your community. You can expect generations of flowers, berries, and autumn color in exchange for a small investment and a few minutes of work, depending on the species.
While planting a tree does not appear to be rocket science, scientific research in recent decades has overturned much of the conventional wisdom about planting saplings, including some weird ideas. So, let me explain why science proves that planting trees in square holes is easier – and more efficient.
Despite popular belief, round holes are not the best shape for planting trees.
According to botanist James Wong, square holes encourage roots to “flare out” into native soil, whereas round holes encourage them to spiral into a tight ball.
At first glance, trees planted in round holes appear to be doing well. However, many people will starve and perish in a matter of weeks.
This is due to the ease with which the sapling established itself in the fluffy, fertilized soil used to fill the void. When they come into contact with the rough, compacted soil at the hole’s perimeter, they transform and spiral into a cylindrical shape, as if they were in a jar.
Simply digging a square hole instead of a circular one when planting the sapling will greatly increase the chances of survival for your tree. According to systematic planting trials, the roots would not form a circular root system because they are not good at growing round the corners. When the roots reach the 90-degree angle of a square hole, they expand out of the planting hole to colonize the surrounding native soil, rather than snaking around in a spiral.
The tree will not only have a better chance of thriving, but it will also grow faster and become more resistant to environmental threats like droughts.
Instead of rich organic compounds and compost, fill the void with the soil you just dug out while planting a tree. This reduces the likelihood of the roots exhibiting “container effect” behavior. Prior to planting the sapling, remove any twisted or matted roots from the root ball. Contrary to popular belief, root pruning causes the release of compounds that promote root development.