Q. My landscaper recently planted six foot tall dogwoods in my yard, but left the baling wire and rope around the rootball. Should he have removed them?
Your landscaper should definitely have removed at least the top portion of the wire basket from the root ball, and the rope as well, before planting. These steps take extra time so landscapers may want to avoid them.
Wire baskets are important during transport, because they support the root ball, but the wires take as long as 30 years to disintegrate after planting. During that time, the tree roots will grow against and around the wire and will become partially girdled, which will restrict the flow of nutrients and water through the tree. The upper horizontal wires create the most problems with root growth, and it's important to remove at least the top half of the basket when planting.
The rope that you refer to is either natural or synthetic twine. Natural twine can persist up to 14 years, while synthetic twine will not decompose for much, much longer, and will girdle the trunk if not removed, which could cause the tree to die in a few years.
I would suggest having the landscaper return and uncover and remove the wire and twine from your new trees.
(For reference - some of the information I cited above here comes from the book The Practical Science of Planting Trees by Gary Watson and E.B. Himelick)
Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service