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Ask W. Sorgen Your Own Question
W. Sorgen
W. Sorgen, ISA Ceritified Arborist
Category: Landscaping
Satisfied Customers: 150
Experience:  Bachelor's degree in forestry, and owner of a residential/commercial tree service.
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I live in zip code 65037, mid Missouri. I purchased a balled

Customer Question

I live in zip code 65037, mid Missouri. I purchased a balled and burlaped White flowering Dog Wood tree from a local nursery. The trunk is 2 inches in diameter 1 foot up from the base. The nursery delivered and planted the tree on 5/8/16. It is guaranteed from one year. In early June, I noticed the leaves were drying up. I called the nursery. They came to my home and inspected the tree condition and said it was dying because I over watered it. The tree installed cost was $442. $215 for tree, $70 for delivery, $107 for planting, $30 for soil additives and $20 taxes. They offered to replace the tree at 50% instead of the normal 100%. So a replacement tree would cost me $315. $108 for tree, $70 for delivery, $107 for planting, $30 for soil additives.
I disagree with their reason for the tree's demise. I have been planting all kinds of trees and shrubs for 16 years since I retired. They have been bare root, potted and balled and burlaped. I never had a tree die one month after it was planted. I had a arborist inspect the tree and he said the tree was planted 2 inches beneath the my ground level. He also said the dirt around the tree root ball did not smell rotten or stagnant.
I always water my newly planted shrubs and trees frequently during the first few months. On this tree I watered it two or three times a week with about 5 gallons of water for each watering. The drainage in the area this tree was planted is very good. The water around the tree trunk goes into the soil very fast and the tree never has standing water around it, even after a heavy rain.
Another planting practice I follow is the put a dirt moat around the base of the tree. The moat on this tree was 1 inch high and 32 inches in diameter. I would run the hose until the moat filled. This is approximately 3 gallons. The water in the moat drained into the soil within a minute or two. After a few months I put cyprus mulch within the moat.
So my question to your tree expert is. How does some one inspecting a tree where the leaves are drying up determine that over-watering is the cause? Do I have a case to request a 100% replacement guarantee?
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Landscaping
Expert:  W. Sorgen replied 3 months ago.

A determination of over-watering could really only be determined by digging the tree up and seeing rotten roots.

Being planted too deeply is the number one cause I see for trees dying after planting. Plants are not meant to have the their stems/trunks under soil; it rots the bark. If you had an arborist inspect the tree and it has been established that it was planted too deeply, then whomever planted the tree should replace it free of charge. You should present the arborist's report to the nursery, and demand a free replacement. If they don't cooperate, you have an excellent case against them in small claim's court.

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