There are all sorts of benefits that you’ll reap if you plant a tree on your property. Trees provide everything from a reduction in your personal carbon footprint and cleaner air around you, to a source of shade and a place for your children to play. With all these positives of planting a tree, we don’t blame you for being impatient to put a few in your backyard right now. Successfully planting trees, however, can largely be a matter of timing and there are multiple other factors you will want to get right before you attempt to grow a tree on your property. This article will offer some tips on getting it done correctly.
When to Plant
Deciding the best time to plant your tree depends on a number of factors, but the first one you’ll want to consider is the climate you live in. If you live in a particularly cold part of the country, you obviously cannot plant anything while the ground is frozen. You will have only a short window of time in which you can successfully plant a tree.
Even if the ground isn’t frozen yet, if you plant too close to winter time then the roots might not receive adequate time to grow. In a colder climate, springtime is usually the best time to plant as you will give the roots plenty of time to take hold before the ground starts to freeze.
On the other hand, if you live in a particularly hot part of the country, then you will want to plant during the fall instead. Planting during a cooler time of year will ensure that the nutrition the trees receive goes toward strengthening the roots rather than towards canopies to cool the trees down. Once again, you want to give the roots plenty of time to take hold before they are subjected to environmental stressors – in this case the heat of the summer.
Either way you will want to make sure that you give the trees plenty of water during the dry parts of the year, whether that’s summer or winter for your area.
Deciding when to plant also depends on what type of tree you intend to have. Different species of trees require different conditions, so the timing matters for them too.
If you’re planting a conifer tree, for example, you have to consider that cold weather can be particularly hard on them since their needles are losing moisture even during the wintertime. As a result of this, springtime is best for planting conifers. Bare root trees also are best planted during the spring since the winter can damage their exposed roots. For deciduous trees, on the other hand, planting during the fall is usually the best choice but make sure that they receive plenty of water all throughout the year.
How to Plant
The first step for planting trees is preparation. You will want to carefully choose where exactly on your property you want to put your tree. An ISA Certified Arborist or tree care professional can help you with this decision, and if you do it correctly you can increase your property value while preventing any costly damage to your home.
Consider the future growth of your tree; if it will grow large enough to damage the areas around it, you will need to pick a different spot. Once you’ve chosen a spot, make sure that you know the location of any underground pipes, wires and other utilities before you do any digging.
Now you can dig a planting hole that is approximately 2-3 times wider than the root ball of your new tree; it should not be any deeper than the root ball. You don’t want to dig a hole that’s too deep, as it will make it difficult for the roots to receive oxygen. Now you can remove the new tree from its container, taking care to inspect the root ball for any circling roots, which you can straighten or remove. Then you can place the tree in the hole that you’ve prepared, making sure that the trunk flare – the area at the base of the tree where the trunk expands – will be partially visible once you have finished planting the tree.
Once you are sure that the tree is stable in the hole that you’ve prepared, look at it from a variety of angles to ensure that it is sitting straight up. Now you can begin filling the hole with soil, starting by packing it gently but firmly around the root ball to stabilize the tree. Try to avoid leaving any air pockets in the soil, as these can dry out the roots. Periodically watering the soil as you pack it into the ground will help to prevent these air pockets.
Do not fertilize the tree as you plant it! This is a common mistake, and it can actually injure the roots of your tree. Only stake the tree if you need to; studies have shown that trees grow stronger trunks and roots if they are not staked. Now spread mulch around the base of the tree to hold in moisture and prevent competition from grasses and weeds.
Congratulations! You have successfully planted your tree. Make sure to properly take care of your tree, watering it at least weekly, and enjoy watching it grow into the space you’ve provided for it.