Issue: May 51 2001

Do I have to remove wire mesh from trees?


When planting pine trees, do you need to remove the wire mesh from around the root ball, and if not, will the tree have problems growing? Martin T. Chaparral, NM


You have asked a very important question. Many people think that wire mesh around a transplanted tree's rootball will rust and not cause a problem. In the alkaline soils of the Southwest, wire doesn't rust rapidly enough. The plant may survive for several years, but then the roots will be girdled and cut by the wire. The plant will then die.

Improper planting is the reason many trees fail to establish or grow poorly in the Southwest. The wire is one of the problems, and improper preparation of the planting site is another.

It is important to remove the wire from the rootball, but if you remove the wire from the rootball improperly, you can also damage the tree. It is important to remove the wire (and any burlap around the roots) AFTER the tree is placed in the planting hole and you are ready to replace the soil in the hole. If you remove the wire before placing the tree in the hole, there is a good chance that the rootball will be damaged when the tree is placed into the hole. Also, remember to loosen the soil in a large circle around the planting hole, then dig the hole to be only as deep as the rootball. Just before refilling the hole, cut the wire at least two-thirds of the way down the rootball and roll any burlap down to the bottom of the hole. Replace the soil without adding additional peatmoss, compost or manure. If you want to add amendments to the soil, do that over the entire area of the loosened soil. Once the soil is replaced, settle the soil by watering, not by tamping. It is important not to over-compact the soil.

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Transplanting lilac


When is the best time to replant a lilac bush? We recently moved from the country to town, and I would like to replant my lilac bushes.


The lilac is a vigorous shrub that will tolerate transplanting almost any time. The best time would be late winter just before it blooms. I have transplanted it here in the summer when it is very hot and dry, and it still grew. More important than the time is the condition of the plant being moved. A young sprout dug from near the base of the lilac will transplant easily. The mature shrub will be more difficult to transplant. If it is the mature shrub, fall or winter would be the best time to transplant it.

If you have already dug your lilacs, plant them as soon as possible. If you must move them now, or never, move them now.


LAS CRUCES 2nd ANNUAL ROSE SHOW will be held on May 12 at the Mesilla Valley Mall (between the J.C. Penney and Walgreen stores). Entries will be accepted from 7:30 to 10:00 a.m.; judging will be from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Public viewing is from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. The public is welcome to show their rose blossoms and to learn about roses in southern New Mexico. For more information call Tom at 522-5580 or Mary Ann at 496-7114.

ALBUQUERQUE 2001 SPRING ROSE SHOW presented by the Albuquerque Rose Society on Saturday, June 2 and Sunday, June 3 at the Albuquerque Garden Center, 10120 Lomas Blvd., NE. Entries will be accepted from 7:30 to 10:00 a.m. on Saturday. The show is open to the public on Saturday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden, Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at or at Please include your county Extension Agent ( and your county of residence with your question!

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page:

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.