Is Planting a Tree Difficult?

In an earlier article, Green Blizzard talked about why every family should plant a tree each year.  The article focused on the benefits of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and how trees help reduce carbon footprints. When it comes to tree planting, there’s no time like the present.

So now you’ve finally decided to plant a tree in your yard because you know it will help reduce your carbon footprint, lower heating and cooling costs, serve future generations and provide a great place to hang a tree swing for your kids or grandkids. Now that you’ve taken the first step mentally, it’s time to look at how to plant it physically. You can do it yourself, or let a nursery deliver and plant it.

So, Is planting a tree difficult?

To be quite honest, trees are easy to plant if you follow a couple of maxims. If you are planting a seedling, you want to plant in the fall or early spring. Summer is the worst time to plant because there won’t be sufficient root growth to support the top growth that warmer weather promotes. Make sure the seedling is planted before the first frost and that you account for enough space – visualize the ground area the tree will cover when its mature, not just a few years from now!

It’s a lot easier to plant a tree that’s already been started by a nursery. Nurseries have different heights of trees (typically the taller the tree the more expensive it will be), and they usually offer delivery and planting services. Occasionally, some nurseries will provide free planting for certain sized trees. If professionals plant the tree, they usually guarantee it for a year. A great option, if  you are not confident about your green thumb.

If you’re tackling the job yourself, simply follow the directions provided by the nursery. Typically, you want to make the hole three to five times larger than the diameter of the tree bulb. Be careful not to dig too deep because the width is more important than the depth, as it allows the roots to spread for better access to water. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to dig too deep of a hole and just plop the tree right in.  About one-third to one-quarter of the bulb needs to be resting above ground level when you’re finished.

Once the tree is in the hole, cover it with dirt that’s packed firm but not too tight. The next step is optional, but highly recommended:  cover the soil with two inches of mulch and be sure it is not touching the trunk.  Mulch will keep the soil and roots moist, and it will also help regulate the soil temperature.

The biggest concern when planting is what those in the gardening business call “transplant shock.”  To avoid this situation, you need to ensure that a tree is properly cared for when it’s being moved from the nursery to your home. Consider buying some starter root fertilizer. The guru at the nursery I worked for swore by the stuff, as it helped roots recover and grow quickly when transplanted. You won’t want to use this as your normal fertilizer, but it’s a great and inexpensive way to jump start plants and avoid the sluggish growth that accompanies transplant shock.

So, now that you know how to plant a tree…get your shovel out and start digging!

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About the author

John R. Garnet

John's work in the energy market fostered his interest in the environment. He recently completed his graduate work at George Mason University, But more interestingly, John has a passion for food and cooking and to provides some light-hearted tips to make people's lives greener while enjoy the good life with everyday practical tips from brewing tea, growing basil, or drinking raw milk.