Are you looking to plant a tree in your yard but aren’t sure how to do it?
While planting a tree may seem like an uncomplicated process, there’s a bit more to it than just digging a hole in the ground. If you want your tree to last for years to come, you need to make sure you plant it correctly.
Check out this complete guide on how to plant a tree to learn how it’s done.
1. Choose the Right Tree
First things first, you need to make sure you choose the right tree. Different trees thrive in different environments, so you want to make sure you do your research before planting. Here’s what to consider:
As a general rule of thumb, you should choose a tree that will be at least 30 percent in height away from nearby objects. For example, if you plant a tree that will grow to 100 feet, it should be at least 30 feet away from your home or any other large objects. This way, it’ll have plenty of room to grow without damaging your property.
If you have a tiny urban lot, we suggest choosing a small tree that will grow between 10 and 30 feet. If you have about a quarter-acre lot and are looking for a tree to provide you with plenty of shade, then we suggest getting a medium-sized tree that’ll grow between 30 and 60 feet tall.
Lastly, if you have half an acre of space or more, you may want to opt for a large tree that will grow 60 or more feet tall. Large trees take decades to mature, but they serve as a priceless investment. If chosen wisely, they can increase the value of your home.
To figure out what type of tree is best for the environment you live in, we recommend checking out the USDA plant hardiness zone map. This map lets you know the coldest annual temperature in your area to help you determine which tree will survive in the winter.
All you need to do is enter your zip code to find the information. Heat tolerance is another important consideration for tree planting. We recommend checking out the American Horticultural Society’s interactive map to find the hottest temperature your tree can handle.
Rainfall and Soil
While you can always set up an irrigation system, it’s best to plant trees that will thrive with the natural rainfall patterns of your area. There’s also a wide variety of soil types that trees need.
Some trees thrive in heavy clay, while others do best in light, sandy soil. Additionally, while some trees do best in rich, fertile soil, others grow better in rocky, barren environments.
To figure out what type of soil you have in your yard, you can contact your local cooperative extension service office. They will be happy to provide you with a list of trees that will do best with your soil.
Care and Maintenance
Most trees require some maintenance, so you’ll need to take a look at your lifestyle to figure out what level of maintenance you can handle.
At the very minimum, you’ll typically need to prune your trees, inspect them for dying limbs, and nourish them with water and organic mulch. Some low maintenance trees to consider for your yard include:
- Japanese maple
- Crape myrtle
- American sycamore
- Northern red oak
- Red maple
- Corkscrew willow
Evergreen vs. Deciduous
Evergreen trees look lush during the winter when most trees are dormant and have lost their leaves. Deciduous trees, on the other hand, lose their leaves in the winter, but they come with the added benefit of colorful fall foliage.
2. Dig the Hole
Once you’ve decided on the type of tree you want, it’s time to strike ground. The hole for the tree should be two to three times wider than the root mass. However, it shouldn’t be planted any deeper than what it was growing in its previous environment.
Planting a tree too deep is one of the top reasons that trees die. To figure out how deep you should plant it, find the point where the trunk flares out and joins the roots.
If there’s twine and burlap at the base of the tree trunk, remove it. Then, measure the distance from the trunk flare to the bottom of the root mass. When you’re done planting, the trunk flare should rest slightly above the soil grade. When digging, make sure to slope the sides gently outward toward the soil grade.
3. Inspect the Roots
When the tree is out of its container, don’t forget to look at the roots. If the roots are densely bound in a circular pattern or have begun growing in the shape of the container, then you need to break them up.
Placing a root-bound plant in the ground as-is is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, as it will likely end up killing the plant. Even if you’re watering your tree regularly, a tightly wound root won’t be able to grow and soak in enough nutrients.
When you’re cutting the roots away, don’t worry about losing some of them or losing some of the soil. Giving them a fresh start is what’s most important.
5. Add Mulch
Mulch is necessary for healthy trees, as it helps insulate newly planted tree roots, maintain soil moisture, and manage soil temperature. We recommend adding a 2-3-inch layer of mulch around the base of the tree.
However, make sure to avoid the lower trunk area. When mulch comes in contact with the lower trunk, it can suffocate it, causing it to rot. Additionally, if you live in a windy area, it may be a good idea to add a tree staking kit until the roots have firmly taken hold.
6. Water Regularly
Watering is the most important task you’ll be in charge of after planting a tree. Watering helps the tree grow and establish itself in the ground, which can take months, weeks, or even years to do!
Here are some watering tips for your tree:
- Water the tree immediately after planting.
- Water the tree 2 to 3 times per week during the first month if it isn’t very rainy. You may want to consider buying a rain gauge to get an accurate measurement of the precipitation.
- After the first month, water the tree one to two times per week.
Of course, these are all general recommendations. You need to keep the weather, location, soil type, and tree type in mind when planning a watering schedule.
7. Know When to Fertilize
Fertilization is another important part of a tree’s growth. While we don’t recommend fertilizing new trees immediately, once the tree has taken root, you can begin the fertilization process.
If you begin the fertilization process before the tree has established itself, you’ll put undue stress on it. We recommend using a slow-release, non-burning fertilizer, as this will ensure the tree doesn’t become overtaxed.
8. Other Tree Maintenance Tips
Even after the tree has established itself, you still need to do some regular maintenance. As we mentioned, fertilizing, mulching, and watering is a part of the maintenance process.
Additionally, you need to trim and prune your tree to remove any dead branches or leaves so new ones can grow. If you’re incapable of trimming your trees yourself, you can hire a professional to do it for you.
It’s also important to keep an eye out for pests and diseases, as they can be detrimental to a tree’s health. Monitor your tree for any unusual changes, such as leave spots or fungus on the bark. If you notice anything abnormal, have a professional come take a look at it. They can develop an action plan to cure your tree.
If your tree still isn’t looking good despite your best efforts, it may be time to test the soil. It could be that the soil isn’t at its optimum pH level or that it’s not getting enough nutrients.
You can buy an at-home testing kit to test your soil.
How to Plant a Tree: Time to Plant
Now that you know how to plant a tree, it’s time to get started. Planting a tree can be a gratifying experience, and it’s a great way to beautify your yard and increase your property’s value.
If you’re looking to get rid of an old tree before you plant a new one, you’ll need to hire a tree removal service. Contact us today to learn about our tree removal services!