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Planting a Tree? Here’s How to Do it Right

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Everybody loves trees. And why not? Mature trees in your yard add value to your home; by some estimates, as much as 10 percent. They can also save you money by reducing heating bills in the winter and cooling costs in the summer.

In addition to that, they add beauty to our world, exhale life-giving oxygen, attract songbirds and other pleasing wildlife, provide shade to keep us cool, and simply give us pleasure.

Want to plant a tree in your yard? Here are tips to help you do it right, mostly adapted from www.treesaregood.org .

Choose the Right Tree

Consult with a nursery to help you choose varieties that will thrive in your climate and soil conditions. Choose trees that are sturdy and resistant to pests and other hazards. You can visit www.arborday.org/treeguide for information on more than 200 species.

Choose the Right Location

You shouldn't plant trees too close to the house, where roots can interfere with pipes and wiring and branches can infringe on the roof and siding. Consider how wide a tree spreads in determining where to plant it.


Dig a Wide, Shallow Hole

Before digging, know the location of all underground utilities. Make the hole at least three times the diameter of the root ball; this is necessary because the roots need to push through surrounding soil to establish themselves. Dig only as deep as the root ball, leaving the trunk flare - where the roots spread out at the base of the tree - partially above ground.


Plant at the Proper Height

It’s better to place the tree a little high - a few inches above the trunk flare - than too low. Most of the roots will develop in the top 12 inches of soil.


Fill the Hole Gently

Partially fill the hole and loosely but firmly pack the soil around the base of the root ball. If the root ball is wrapped, remove the material from around the trunk and root ball - taking care not to damage any roots. Fill the rest of the hole, packing the soil firmly to eliminate any air pockets. To keep roots from drying out, add soil a little at a time and settle with water.


Stake the Tree (If Necessary)

If the tree has been grown and dug at the nursery properly, staking it may not be needed. If you must do so because of windy conditions or vandalism concerns, place stakes on opposite sides of the tree and connect them to the lower half of the trunk with wide, flexible material.


Apply Mulch

Place material such as pine straw, shredded bark, wood chips or peat moss around the tree to hold moisture and fight off competition from grass and weeds. To avoid decay of the bark at the base of the tree, don’t cover the trunk with mulch.


Get the Tree Started Right

Keep the soil around the tree damp but not waterlogged. Water at least once a week; more frequently during hot weather.

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