Spring Tree Planting Checklist

The following Agriculture article printed in the 2016 spring edition of our quarterly newsletter.

How to Plant a Tree During Spring

Select a tree that will add diversity to your landscape and the community. Don’t just plant the same type of tree as your neighbor. Planting different species reduces the impact of loss due to pests or disease.

Dig a planting hole that is 2 to 3 times the width of the root ball. The hole should be the same depth as the root ball. The flare of the trunk where it meets the root zone should be visible at soil level. Avoid digging too deep. Back filling is not a remedy because freshly dug dirt cannot be made as compact as it was before digging occurred. A tree placed on top of back fill will sink into the ground. Allowing the tree to settle too deep limits the oxygen available for the roots.

Be sure to remove any synthetic burlap and twine holding the ball together. If these materials do not break down in the soil, they could limit the root growth and girdle the tree. The fabric could also shed water, causing the roots to dry out.

Back fill around the tree with the same dirt that was removed from the hole. Do not apply any fertilizer at planting time. Wait until late fall, thus allowing new roots to grow, before applying fertilizer. Most soils contain enough nutrients for initial growth.

After planting, water the tree deeply to settle the soil around the roots. Staking is not necessary unless planting bare root plants or planting in a windy location. Remove staking after one year. This will encourage stronger trunk and root development.

Written by Michael Boice, Oldham County Extension Horticulture Assistant. Edited by Lauren State, Oldham County Extension Staff Assistant.

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