Clemson Extension: An Ounce of Preparation | Clemson Extension


An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure.

This saying fits well with the tree planting activity that I plan to participate in today at Benjamin Mays Elementary School. They will place seven new trees on their property. Extension staff visited the site to provide helpful advice. We’ve provided some simple tips that will help ensure these trees have a good start and a better chance of surviving to maturity.

Today is Arbor Day in South Carolina. While National Tree Day is in April, South Carolina celebrates it on the first Friday in December. And for good reason, because fall and winter are the best time of year to plant trees. Planting when the tree is dormant and the weather is cooler allows the tree to establish before the heat of summer arrives.

It is important to think carefully about where the tree will be planted. In most cases it is much easier to have a site in mind and then find a suitable tree than to get a tree and then try to find a suitable site. Consider the specific needs and preferences of a tree species when choosing its location. Doing a little research to learn more about your tree species is a crucial part of the process. Allow enough space for the tree to reach its full height and width at maturity. Remember to also plan for root growth, which will reach the width of the canopy or farther. Call 811 to avoid underground utilities.

There are a few key tips to remember before you plant a tree in the ground. First, inspect the tree’s root ball to determine where the root splay is. The root flare is the point where the trunk widens in the area where the roots emerge. The potting soil in the container can cover the root flare, so don’t assume that the top of the soil in the container is the top of the root ball. Create an appropriately sized planting hole that is no deeper than the actual height of the root ball from the bottom of the root growth to the root flare. If the hole is too deep and backfilled, the soil will settle over time and the tree will sink.

The width of the planting hole can be 2-3 times the size of the root ball. Tree roots grow mainly outwards, not downwards, so a wider hole will encourage this lateral growth. While it might seem like a good idea, don’t alter the natural soil when backfilling after planting. Encourage the roots to grow in native soil instead of creating an artificial condition just around the root ball. You can find more information on planting trees in the HGIC 1001 online fact sheet, Planting Trees Correctly.

The Piedmont Technical College’s horticulture program poinsettia sale will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Saturday at the greenhouse at 720 S Emerald Road. The 2022 Master Volunteer Gardeners training class is now accepting applicants. Contact our office for more details. Visit the online calendar here to register for events and extension courses:

Our office collects donated travel toiletries to assemble kits for children in DSS care. Donations will be accepted until Monday noon.

Our offices are closed from December 24 to 31 for holidays. Contact me at [email protected] or 864-889-0541. The Greenwood County Extension Office at 105 North University Street is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call the office at 864-223-3264 for assistance over the phone. Visit our Facebook page at, where we will post information in a timely manner.

Stephanie Turner is the Greenwood County Horticultural Officer for Clemson Cooperative Extension.


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