Tree Selection, Planting, & Maintenance
The Right Tree in the Right Place
A healthy community forest begins with careful planning. Trees provide many benefits such as wildlife diversity, higher property values, improved air and water quality, storm water management, energy savings from summer and winter extremes, and quality human health. The key to maximizing and utilizing these benefits is to select the right tree and plant it in the right place.
A proper landscape plan takes each tree into consideration in order to maximize benefits and minimize future maintenance costs. Choosing a tree should involve more than picking one you think looks good. Consider characteristics such as height, canopy spread, form/shape, growth rate, soil/sun/moisture requirements, fruit, and hardiness zone. Overuse of a single species of tree greatly increases vulnerability to insects and diseases so you should also consider what other trees have been planted in the area.
Tree planting is the most important component of long-term tree survival. For example, trees planted too deep will begin to decline from lack of oxygen and respiration issues. They will develop shallow roots and are prone to uprooting during major weather events such as thunderstorms. To ensure proper tree planting, follow the steps outlined below.
- Dig planting site 2 to 3 times the width of the root ball.
- Plant tree no deeper than the original depth of the root ball. Root flare visible at the base of the tree trunk should be level with the soil surface.
- Center tree in the planting site on solid subsoil.
- After tree is positioned, cut and remove top 1/3 of wire basket.
- Remove twine and roll down burlap to the bottom of the hole.
- Backfill the planting site to 1/2 depth with gently packed soil and fill the hole with water.
- After water has drained backfill the remaining area around the root ball with soil.
- Create a saucer shaped ring in the soil outside of the root ball to enable water to drain toward the root ball in the future.
- Place a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch in a circle around the tree, beginning at least 3 inches away from the trunk and extending 3 to 4 feet in all directions. This will help prevent future lawn mower and weed trimmer damage to the trunk.
Watch the video here to learn more about how to properly plant a tree.