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Tree Talk - Metropolitan Forestry Services

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February 18, 2022

Yes, You Can Replant The Old Tree Hole!

uprooted dead tree tree removal

It was the best of trees, then it was the worst of trees.

It’s so sad to see a long-standing tree go. We do everything we can to make sure a tree doesn’t have to be taken down, but if it’s beyond saving, down and out it goes. Limbs mulched, trunk dissected, and stump ground, there’s soon an empty space in our hearts and our yards.

So let’s start fresh, shall we?

There are a few reasons it may not be advisable to replant a tree the same spot of a removed tree:

  • Remaining dead roots in the ground may limit space for new roots to sprawl.
  • Nutrient imbalances. Remaining sawdust doesn’t provide much in the way of nutrition, and the previous tree probably did a good job of leeching the site of its resources.
  • If the previous tree had a disease, the pathogen may be lying in wait for a fresh new host.

Then of course, there are reasons we want to replant in the same area. It’s a perfect spot! It promises shade, a view from your window, a privacy screen, or a cherished place amongst your garden.

So how do I prepare the site to give a new tree the best odds?

Ok, this will take some work. The stump must be ground out 10-12 inches below soil level. Most of a tree’s root system exists in the top 12 inches of soil, so this removes most of the root material. Remove as much sawdust from the hole, cut out as many roots as possible (avoiding any living roots from neighboring plants), and refill with topsoil and compost. If a pathogen may be present, clear debris away from the site and replant a tree species that isn’t susceptible to infection. You may wait a year or so to replant a space if it’s the dead of winter or summer, or to allow the soil to regain some of its microbiome.

What can I plant in (or around) its place?

In St. Louis, we have so many lovely and ecologically beneficial options.

  • Oaks: Some of our favorites are chinkapin, shumard, willow, shingle, and nutall. Here’s a more extensive list of oaks native to Missouri.
  • Flowering trees: dogwood, redbud, serviceberry, crabapple, and magnolia
  • Tulip tree
  • Black gum
  • Fringe tree
  • Yellowwood
  • Eastern hop hornbeam
  • American linden
  • Bald cypress
  • Easter red cedar

NOTE: If your taller felled tree was providing shade for understory trees and plants in your yard, be advised: those plants may not be prepared to handle the exposure at first and they will become stressed. Make sure they are well mulched, fertilized (if needed), and treated for any pests or diseases. This will give them the best shot at bouncing back from the shock.

Feel free to contact us if you’d like some more advise or help with the process of replanting a tree. Happy planting!

flowering trees dogwood

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Our goal is to provide you with the best possible service. If you are not satisfied with any treatment or completed job, we will resolve the situation to your satisfaction. We want to do our utmost to ensure your trees and shrubs are always 'green and growing'.