2006-04-27 / News

Plant a tree for Arbor Day

Some states celebrate Arbor Day at various times throughout the year, but National Arbor Day is the last Friday of April. So for those celebrating April 28, grab a shovel and get ready to plant a tree.

Before planting a tree there are many things to consider. Choosing the right tree is the first step. Tree selection should be based on these criteria: the location in which it is to be planted, the correct species for the environment (resilience, hardiness, purpose), and long-term maintenance needs. A local nursery or tree farm should be able to assist you in discovering the best tree based on these guidelines.

The second step is to make sure the tree is planted correctly.

How a tree is planted, and initially maintained, makes all the difference in the world. Too many people are content to simply plant a tree but don't ensure that the tree has the chance to go on to live for many years.

Tree planting tips: + Prepare the tree for planting. For bare-rooted trees, neatly cut away any broken or damaged roots. Soak the roots for a few hours prior to planting to allow them to absorb water.

Container-grown trees should have the plastic or metal containers completely removed. Carefully cut through any circling roots. Remove the top half of pressed peat/paper containers.

Balled and burlapped trees should have all of the ropes cut. Pull the burlap at least one-third of the way down. Slit the remaining burlap to encourage root growth.

If in a wire basket, cut away the top of the basket. Remove tags and labels.

+ Planting the tree. Dig the planting hole shallow and broad. The width should be two three times the diameter of the root ball, and the depth only as deep as the root ball.

Gently place the tree in the hole, ensuring it is perpendicular to the ground. Partially backfill with the soil from the hole, using water to settle the soil. Finish backfilling the hole, while gently but firmly packing the soil.

Be sure the leave the trunk flare (where the roots spread at the base of the tree) visible above the soil. Soak the soil well, making sure no air pockets form between roots. Wait until next year to fertilize.

+ Maintenance. Do not stake unless the tree has a large crown, or if the planting is situated on a site where wind or people may push the tree over. Stake for a maximum of one year.

Prune only the damaged branches. Spread 2 to 3 inches of mulch over the planting area, but do not place it up against the trunk. Be sure the root ball has plenty of water throughout the year by keeping the soil moist, but not soaked.

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