How to Plant Your Tree

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GSU recommends that you visit the following pages before choosing and planting your tree:

  • Learn why trees are so good for us and the environment in Plant a Tree!
  • Find out which is The Right Tree for You by analyzing important factors such as climate zone, size, and maintenance level.

Let’s plant your tree!

24'' box nursery citrus tree

This article is moving forward under the assumption that you have already come to a decision as to what is the right tree for you and your climate.

The ideal seasons for planting are spring and fall, which will give the tree more time to get established  and ready for the harsh hot or cold temperatures.

If you are in no hurry, you can grow your tree from a seed, otherwise, go to your local nursery and purchase the type and size of tree you want. Do your best to choose a healthy looking tree with a straight trunk and well-distributed branches!

Note: Avoid root-bound trees, a common condition for trees that have been in the same container for too long. If you are buying a 15 gallon tree, grab the tree from the trunk root-boundand pull it upwards. If the root ball pulls out easily and you see many circling roots around the soil, the tree is root-bound. If the tree is larger and looking at the root ball is not possible, check the soil surface: if there are exposed roots in the soil surface or you cannot penetrate the soil with your finger, the tree is probably root-bound.

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How to Plant Your Tree:

  • Choose the right spot: Think long term! Don’t let your tree surprise you once it’s already established, strong and growing. Once you have picked your type of tree, drive around your neighborhood or town and check out the mature versions of your tree species. Before choosing the spot for your tree, consider your tree’s crown size potential and growing space requirements.
  • Dig the hole: Testing tree hole on caliche soilOnce you have chosen the right spot for your tree–with enough room to grow in all directions–put your gloves on, get your shovel and start digging. Make sure the planting hole is as deep as the tree’s rootball, not deeper (the plant might settle and sink after planted). Also, dig the planting hole at least twice the size of the rootball’s diameter. Tree roots need oxygen to grow, some plants can thrive in water-logged soils while others will choke to death. Learn about the special needs of your tree and, if required, check the soil drainage before planting (fill the hole with water to verify that the water doesn’t drain too slow or too quickly).
  • Position the tree: Carefully planted Australian Bottletake the tree out of the original pot. Once the tree is out of its container, try to loosen or untie the roots a little bit with your hands or a shovel (this will help the tree to realize it is not in that small container anymore and it will help the roots to start spreading). Finally, place the tree root ball in the center of the hole.
  • Soil: To refill the sides of the hole, you can use topsoil or mix the native soil with mulch (50-50 ratio); however, adding amendments to the soil on site is not always necessary and is not always the best choice. To know what it’s best for your tree species and native soil type, ask your local gardener or nursery!
  • Water: Once planted, you will need to water your tree every day for the first week to allow the tree to establish properly. Then switch to the right watering schedule for the season, climate zone, and tree type (desert, sub-tropical, or tropical).
  • Optional: You may want to use a ‘planting or transplanting fertilizer’ immediately after planting your tree to promote root growth and prevent transplant shock. Regular fertilizers containing nitrogen may damage freshly transplanted trees, and should not be used until 30 days after planting. Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions. Over fertilizing or using a fertilizer with nitrogen (N) in high temperatures (over 80 degrees F), can burn roots and new growth, and even kill the tree.
  • Double stake your tree: Double Double Staking Your Treestaking is recommended for young and unestablished trees, especially in windy areas. Double stake your tree to prevent stress, root damage, or complete loss. Place stakes perpendicular to the prevailing wind and away from  the tree’s trunk and root ball, use flexible materials to tie the tree to the stakes, so they don’t hurt the tree, and do not place the stakes higher than 2/3 the hight of the tree. In order to promote self support, remove stakes once the tree has develop some roots and has become stronger.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Reasons Why Trees Can Fail.

Plant a tree and remember all the benefits and good reasons to do so:

maple tree

  • Plants and trees help eliminate indoor and outdoor air pollution and enrich the quality of the soil.
  • As no other life form can, plants produce their food out of the energy from the sun and by transforming carbon dioxide into oxygen (photosynthesis) they make all human and animal life on this planet possible.
  • They act as windbreaks, help recycle water, slow storm water run-off, create cool shaded areas, and provide food and shelter to humans and wild life.
  • They are beautiful and refreshing, and transmit a sense of peacefulness and healthiness; they  make any place look better.
  • Greenery also attracts beautiful birds and butterflies and increases the value of any property!

We cannot live without trees. Let’s cherish and promote their existence!

To help save trees you can click on ‘Go paperless’ and learn how to eliminate tons of waste from paper mail, bank and credit card statements, and monthly bills.

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