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Author Topic: Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types  (Read 2237 times)

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Offline Treeflea24

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Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types
« on: May 15, 2022, 02:57:56 PM »
Are there any other weird birds out there that think about what your new tree planting is going to look like in aerial and satellite imagery, and waste time and mental and physical energy making sure its going to look "right" from 10,000 feet? Then waste more time and energy posting about it?
In case there are, heres the 'alternative method' that I used to plant a couple hundred trees last fall, and the aerial imagery to show the results:



I guess its not that revolutionary, but rather than planting the trees in simple perpendicular and equally spaced rows and columns - this is called square packing, and is the same as the arrangement in a full twelve pack of cans of beer, I used a different layout that places each tree equidistant from each of its neighbors. Its called hexagonal packing, or triangular packing, and its the arrangement you get once you remove one or more of the beers from the twelve pack and the cans settle to their natural state, nestling into the unused spaces between cans.

It gives a slightly higher trees/acres density. Square packing gives a ~78.5% efficiency, and hex packing gives ~90.7%. I planted at 10' spacing, so rather than the 435 trees/acre of square packing, hex packing places about 503 trees in the same space.

I think it looks cool from the aerial, rather that aligning parallel in two directions 90° apart, it aligns parallel in 3 directions, 60° apart. But that wasnt the main reason that I did it.

The main reason was because I would be planting in and around existing trees and patches of plants that I didnt want to clear, and couldnt work through while doing my layout, and I wanted to trees on either side of whatever obstructions to still align with each other, colinear and parallel. The specifics of my method allowed for this.

The Method: Get two rigid pieces of material that are both the length of whatever spacing you want (10'L, 1" PVC tubes in my case). Stick a flag into the ground wherever you want to start. Use your PVC pipe to space a second flag 10' away - this will establish the directions of all of your rows. After that chose any two flags, bump your spacing tubes up to each of them and bring them together to place your next flag. If you are consistent you will have a nearly perfect grid that can work around obstructions and create colinear rows on either side of the obstruction, without using a line of sight. Gluing a small magnet into the end of each tube helps to give consistent contact to the steel wire of the flag. Also a wife and a child to hold the opposite ends of the sticks against flags really speeds things up.

 No measurements are required. No eyeball judgments. No measuring right triangles to get things perpendicular or square. Just bump the sticks to flags and keep on going.

The actual 'row spacing' is less than the tree spacing, (87% of the tree spacing) so keep that in mind if you want a certain width for equipment and access.

I tried a similar method before this with strings, ropes, chains, etc, and it gives the same results, but requires a lot of back-and-forth that you can avoid by using the sticks method.

Let me know your thoughts, and how crazy I am for laying out my trees this way.


Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2022, 04:45:28 PM »
Nice simple solution.  Pretty neat.  When I first saw the picture, I thought, "man, most of those trees died!".
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Offline Treeflea24

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Re: Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2022, 09:37:27 PM »
When I first saw the picture, I thought, "man, most of those trees died!".
Here's the photo I should have put at the end, rather than the flags:

Offline beenthere

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Re: Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2022, 12:52:05 AM »
How do you plan to keep it like that? 

The grass and weeds will grow. just curious... 

Planted 3+ acres with 800 black walnut seedlings back in '71 on 10' x 10' spacing.. straight rows along and across the field (like checked corn). Kept it disked and weed free for the first 15 years. After that, just kept it mowed with a brush hog. 

In '98, planted 3000 trees (1200 red oak, 1200 Norway spruce, 600 white pine) in rows. Trees in rows planted 6' apart, with softwood every other tree between the red oak. Thought was to have the softwood cause the red oak to grow up and not out. Worked, except for the softwoods grew much too fast and the design (plan) did not turn out so great. 35-40 foot spruce that are difficult to remove just to release the red oaks. Pic after four years.



 


south central Wisconsin
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Offline Treeflea24

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Re: Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2022, 01:39:14 AM »
How do you plan to keep it like that?
Hmm, I guess I hadnt planned to keep it like this, in terms of weeds and surrounding plants. I was going to let most of it grow back to the grasses, goldenrod, & teasel that was there before I brush hogged it. My hope is that the weed mats will get the seedlings through the first few years of weed competition until they are able to get out of the tops of the tubes. Is that a flawed plan? I will probably layout and mow a couple trails that run through the area for access.
Nice photo - If that were at my property, those two ungulates would have their mouths full of tree parts from those unprotected oaks, or sharpening their antlers on them, depending on the season. There'd probably be more than two of them too, we have a deer problem here...
The softwood-every-other to train the hardwoods up - I had read about that and I actually did that in a smaller area last year with white pine and white oak every-other. Im glad you mentioned your experience with it. With that in mind, would it make sense to top those softwoods once they get 8-10' tall? Once that top leader is gone, they stop growing upwards, right? Then they could still do their job of forcing the oaks up to form a canopy over them, and theyd be easier to thin when that day comes. Think that'd work?
What does the 50 year old black walnut planting look like nowadays? Would love to see a photo of that, can you still see the rows and patterns?

Offline beenthere

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Re: Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2022, 10:42:41 AM »
Your weed mats should work, and hope they do. 
The deer did munch on the oaks and seemed to treat the rows like a salad bar. But a couple years of bagging the terminal buds in paper popcorn bags did the trick to save the terminal growth. 


 

Yes to the idea that I should have taken control of the "out-of-control" spruce and white pine when they were smaller and easier to handle. But I didn't. Digging out the roots with tractor forks at first, but then had to cut them off. This is that field this morning with the spruce/pine removed in part.


 

And a trail cam pic at the walnut field. Nothing spectacular for tree growth, but the small ones are yielding to the larger trees and have good height growth. Just not great form.


 

Just brush hog the walnut field once or twice a year. 
south central Wisconsin
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Offline Treeflea24

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Re: Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2022, 01:06:51 PM »
  

Pretty cool when you put them side-by-side! 24 year span, right? Thats a beautiful view from your deck.
This provides some inspiration (and also tempered expectations on timing) for impatient folks like me who are just getting started on their plantings.

Offline Sod saw

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Re: Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2023, 12:42:51 PM »
.


It sure is funny how different folks think differently.

when I plant (replant after clearing) I attempt to plant in non rows.  My goal is to have the baby trees planted in such a way that when they are older and full height, the area looks as though no one had ever been there. Wild.  Helter skelter.

I space them far enough apart so that I can get the mower thru for a few years but it an effort because they are not aligned in nice neat rows.

I suspect that I spend more time and effort mowing and you spend more time and effort thinking and planting.

I had thought about planting walnut grove but have not had any one offer nuts to sprout (yet).

Nice view from the deck.  I believe that I see a pond there, in my imagination, don't I?


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Offline wisconsitom

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Re: Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2023, 01:42:28 PM »
Different site conditions, different goals, different methods....but here's what we did;

One weekend in Spring of 2013, rented DNR tree planter, borrowed a tractor -didnt have one yet- and planted 6000 pine, spruce, and larch seedlings/plug stock.  We were novices at that type of planting.  Some trees could have been spaced out a little better, but got er did.  We lost essentially no trees from initial planting!  A few got buck rubbed later, but no losses from planting.

Year of planting was wet and the ragweed grew tall and thick in that disturbed former ag field such that by mid summer, I could not find one seedling.  I know that sounds like exaggeration, but I mean it, I could look and look yet not spy a single tree.

DNR Forester had suggested applying simazine for weeds, but I dislike the 'zine" herbicides -they go down into ground water -so I did nothing.  One growing season later, all ragweed was gone and the field was now 100 percent goldenrod and asters, seedlings still largely hidden.  By year 3, trees were overtopping the forbs layer and now the fastest growers among them, the larch, are pushing at 40 ft. tall.

Not sure how this all applies, but it may in some way.  I'll add too that red pine plantations in NE Wisconsin planted in the 1930s, after thinning cycles, can start to resemble old growth stands, at least in terms of spaced out large trees.  Old rows become more or less indistinguishable.
Ask me about hybrid larch!

Offline Treeflea24

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Re: Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2023, 03:55:29 PM »
It sure is funny how different folks think differently.
Yes it is. I considered going with the helter-skelter approach, and there is a part of me that would prefer that it look natural as it matures.
There is also an engineer part of me that appreciates the straight lines, and (unnecessary in this case) attention to the details.
The in-between to those two approaches - where it looks like someone kinda tried at straight lines - would be intolerable to me. But that's just me.
The thing that led me to make the decision to plant on this pattern was a conversation that I had with a consulting forester while walking the property a few years prior. We were walking through a stand of ~20 yo black walnut.
"I bet your thankful to the person who planted these". 
"Squirrels?"
"No, dont you think someone planted these? look, those three almost line up like a row. Kind-of. If you squint."
I decided later that I didnt want future people wondering if these trees were planted purposefully by a person, or if they had happened on their own. Not very humble I guess...
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Offline wisconsitom

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Re: Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2023, 04:06:28 PM »
In my early years of this project, hand planting say 2 or 3 hundred a year, I did things like mow around them, water them in at planting-to degree possible-spray glyph rings, heck we even mulched around our first 250 with wood chips.

Best results were obtained in example in above post of mine, using mechanical aid to plant, then leaving it alone for a few years.

I've felled around 70 of those larch in last couple days, thinning that 2013 planting.  1 or 2 hundred more to go...better keep moving!
Ask me about hybrid larch!

Offline Clark

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Re: Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2023, 10:13:13 PM »
It’s an interesting concept, this square packing. However, trees respond to the availability of resources and more trees/acre will have different results than fewer trees/acre. Those results may be good or bad, it all depends on your goals. 

If I can add, get rid of the plastic weed mats. It’s been shown that they don’t offer too much for the tree and if you had a dry year when they were planted, any “sheet mulch” (including cardboard) does a better job of drying out the roots than no mat. The best choice is wood chips for mulch. However, I’m going to go out on a pretty sturdy limb and say you are mowing between these rows until they reach canopy closure. So there’s less need for weed control.
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Offline Treeflea24

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Re: Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2023, 10:41:42 AM »
This is the first that I've heard that the weed mats might have a negative effect.
I plan to keep some rows mowed as trails to keep access. The rest will be left to grow back into what it was before, a lot of teasel, dogwood, grasses, goldenrod, etc.
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Offline Clark

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Re: Tree Planting Layout for OCD-Types
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2023, 06:46:11 AM »
Just remembered I had replied to this thread. However, here’s a quick take on the issue from a trusted source:

https://gardenprofessors.com/sheet-mulching-benefit-or-barrier/
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