Tips & Tricks on Planting a Tree this Arbor Day

To celebrate Arbor Day, many people choose to plant a tree. Though many have good intentions, it’s important to make sure that proper planting steps are taken so that the tree lives a long and happy life. Here’s how to plant a tree, according to the professionals.

“Trees are important because first and foremost they provide us with oxygen and take pollutants, like carbon dioxide, out of the air, which is crucial,” said Luke Haas, Certified Arborist and Owner of Haas Tree Care, LLC.

Haas added that trees also provide a great deal of storm water mitigation by absorbing rainwater into their roots. Additionally, the shade cast by trees provides various benefits for homeowners, recreationalists, and municipalities, such as lengthening the lifespan of roadways, lowering cooling costs, and creating a nice getaway from the hot sun in the summer.

In fact, studies (such as those conducted by the Arbor Day Foundation) reveal that having mature trees on a property increases home values by 20%.

While it’s often a great idea to plant a tree, planting that tree properly is important. Haas shares tips for ensuring the best possible life for a tree:

  • First, make sure you are planting the right tree in the right place. Make sure you know your soil type, as a tree will not grow properly if a tree that prefers clay soil is planted in heavy sand.
  • Next, dig a hole as deep as the root ball and 2-3x as wide. Remove the tree from the container and use a hammer or your hands to loosen the roots and force them to grow out instead of continuing to circle.

The next two steps are very crucial.

  • First, identify the root collar. You can identify this part of the tree by finding 2-6 large roots that come out from the area where the trunk meets the root system. Also, you will see a flare in the trunk. This area can also be called the root flare.
  • Second, put the tree in the hole you dug and make sure that the root collar is near the surface, just below the soil line. One of the most common problems we see with young trees is that the tree was planted too deep.
  • Next, make sure the tree is level, fill the soil you removed back around the tree, but do NOT compact it. Instead, lightly level the soil and place mulch around the tree. Be careful to not make a “mulch volcano” around the trunk, instead make a “mulch moat.” If mulch is touching the trunk, it could lead to serious disease and fungal issues.
  • Water the tree thoroughly, then check the moisture level every few days by sticking your finger into the soil. If it is dry, water again.

Haas revealed that the most common problem is trees that are planted too deep.

“It inhibits growth and promotes girdling roots,” he said. “Also, people do not take off the containers or the burlap from the trees. The roots system can not grow if it is stuck inside a container.”

For more information, contact an ISA Certified Arborist. Follow Haas on Facebook and Instagram to see fun and informative tree-related videos.