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Planting 18″ To 24″ Trees: Minimal Loss, Maximum Growth

Spruce Up Your Deer Habitat: Planting Success with 18″ Seedlings

Evergreens are a mainstay for wildlife habitat, providing valuable year-round cover and winter refuge for deer. If you’re looking to enhance your property for these amazing creatures, planting spruce trees is an excellent option.

While mature spruce trees offer the most expansive cover, strategically planting smaller, 18-inch seedlings can be a successful strategy. Here’s why 18-inch spruce trees are a smart choice for creating a deer haven:

  • Cost-effective: Smaller trees are considerably cheaper than their larger counterparts, allowing you to establish more cover plants within your budget.

  • Establishment Success: 18-inch trees are easier to handle and plant, with a higher survival rate compared to larger trees that can experience transplant shock.

  • Faster Growth: Smaller trees tend to focus their energy on establishing a strong root system in the first few years, leading to faster overall growth in the long run.

  • Directed Growth: Planting smaller trees allows you to strategically space them for optimal cover as they mature. This can be particularly beneficial for creating targeted bedding areas or travel corridors.

Choosing the Right Spruce for Your Habitat

There are several varieties of spruce trees that thrive in various regions and offer distinct benefits for deer:

  • Norway Spruce (Picea abies): A popular choice due to its dense branching that provides excellent cover even at a young age. They are hardy in zones 3-7 and grow to be majestic trees at maturity.

  • Black Hills Spruce (Picea glauca): This drought-tolerant and disease-resistant spruce is a good option for drier areas. They boast a beautiful blue-green hue and maintain a bushier form than Norway spruce, offering additional cover at the ground level. Black Hills spruce thrives in zones 2-7.

  • White Spruce (Picea glauca): Another adaptable option, white spruce tolerates a wide range of soil conditions and grows well in zones 2-6. While slower growing than Norway spruce, they mature into dense trees with excellent cover potential.

Planting Tips for Spruce Success

To ensure your 18-inch spruce trees thrive and become a haven for deer, follow these planting best practices:

  • Timing is Key: The ideal planting window depends on your location. In most areas, early spring or late fall, when the trees are dormant, is the best time for planting.

  • Location, Location, Location: Scout your property for areas that receive partial shade and have well-drained soil. Avoid planting directly under established trees that may compete for resources.

  • Prepare the Planting Site: Clear away weeds and debris from a planting area at least twice the diameter of the tree’s root ball. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12-18 inches to encourage root growth.

  • Plant with Care: Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball and gently loosen the roots. Position the tree at its original soil depth and backfill the hole, tamping down the soil to eliminate air pockets.

  • Water Wisely: Water your newly planted trees deeply and regularly, especially during the first growing season. A thick layer of mulch around the base of the tree will help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.

By planting 18-inch spruce trees and following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a thriving deer habitat that provides valuable cover and shelter for years to come. Remember, a healthy deer population is a vital part of a balanced ecosystem, so happy planting!

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