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Tips and Tricks on How to Plant Trees in the Spring

March 18, 2021
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It’s official. Spring has sprung and Summer is on its way. Trees are budding, flowers are blooming and Jack Frost is no longer nipping at your nose. Spring brings about a bountiful harvest of advantageous planting opportunities. But no opportunity is more rewarding than the opportunity to plant a new, beautiful tree.

To plant a tree, you must first navigate your way through a few need-to-know questions: How to choose the right tree for your yard, how to plant a tree, how to find the right soil for your tree and how often you should be watering your new tree.

Luckily, Davey arborist, Natalie McNeill, helped answer those questions, giving some great tips and tricks for any homeowner looking to delve in the world of tree planting:

When Planting a Tree in Spring, Remember This….

Once the lovely Spring weather is upon us, you may want to spend a little extra time outside working on your yard. You may even decide that your yard could use another beautiful tree. However, planting a tree in Spring requires a little more attention than planting in the Fall.

There are some important things to consider if you want to plant in the months of March and April:

  1. Your Region- Before you decide to plant anything, you should determine what hardiness zone you live in to make sure your new tree will thrive in its new home. You can find out which zone you are in by viewing the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.
  2. Extra ‘TLC’- Spring tree planting requires more attentiveness and care. The weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer, so you will need to water your tree sufficiently. Otherwise, your tree is liable to dry out and die. Here are some tips on watering newly planted trees.
  3. Tree Pests (Insects)- With tree pests emerging in Spring and your tree adjusting to its new home, it’s a little more vulnerable to attract those pesky insects. Read our blog post about the top tree insects in Spring and Summer to be on the lookout for.

With all of that being said, there are some good Springtime practices to employ once the tree is planted. You want to make sure you remove all the dead or diseased limbs, add mulch for a layer of protection, and water consistently. Doing this should ensure the long-term health of your tree.

Selecting a Tree to Plant in the Spring

If you are selecting a tree to plant in your yard this spring, there are a few factors that must be considered:

Research

First and foremost, you must do your research and decide what kind of tree is suitable for your yard. And if you are planting in the Spring, here are a few tips:

  1. Your tree must be dormant, meaning it hasn’t leafed out. In dormancy, a tree will halt its growth and reserve its energy. This process is ideal for Spring tree planting.
  2. As a homeowner, you want to think about all seasons. Some trees only hold their bloom for a couple of weeks. Other trees look beautiful for three seasons.
  3. Not all trees grow in the same manner. Some trees have long, invasive root systems that grow outward and may result in hardscape conflicts. The last thing you want is to have your newly planted tree removed because it has intertwined its roots with the pipes of your home.

Choosing the right tree can be overwhelming! That’s why we recommend consulting with a professional for help.

“Our job as arborists is to educate the homeowner and make sure that they’re making an informed decision of the tree they choose to put on their property,” McNeill shares.

Location

Location could be the difference between a beautiful front yard centerpiece that adds value to your house and a nightmare home gardening episode that tears up your sidewalk and interferes with your foundation, costing you thousands of dollars in repairs.

Or, a location could be useful in a less dramatic scenario, like adding shade to a part of your backyard where you love to relax. Who doesn’t enjoy the comfort of a brisk, shaded adirondack chair during the Spring and Summer months?

Tree Planting Quick Tips

Just like there is a right way to choose a location for a tree, there is a right way to plant a tree with these things to keep in mind:

  • To plant a tree, you need to find the perfect spot in your yard and dig a hole that is somewhat wider than the root ball of the tree. This allows the roots to properly establish themselves in the loose, uncompacted soil.
  • The most important thing you want to make sure of is that you are not planting too deep.
  • Planting higher is always the way to go with new tree establishment.
  • The top of the tree’s root ball should be slightly above the ground. By doing so, the tree will have a better chance of survival.
  • Also, you need to plant your tree so that the root flare at the trunk of the tree is exposed.

What is a root flare on a tree? A root flare is where the base of the tree connects to the root system of the tree. You can locate it by identifying the point where the tree widens at the bottom.

Best Soil for Tree Planting

Prior to planting the tree in the soil, homeowners often make their biggest mistake. They add an overabundance of soil amendments.

Soil amendments can be used in moderation, but overuse can quickly lead to a false sense of security for your tree. The tree will prosper while it establishes its roots in the soil amendments, but it will struggle when those roots inevitably reach the soil medium that is present on your property.

To combat this, we recommend that you get a soil test. The test will help you identify the proper type and amount of soil amendments you should be using for your yard. This will ensure you have the best soil for tree planting!

“It's difficult to find that better soil in an urban setting for sure sometimes,” McNeill explains. “But you make the best effort you can to plant it in a place that has a decent soil medium for the trees to establish.”

How Often Should a New Tree Be Watered?

Water, water, and water some more.

Watering newly planted trees is one of the most vital elements to ensure healthy, long-term tree growth.

“New trees require a decent amount of water to get established,” McNeill shares. So, you're going to have to keep up with frequent watering, especially within the first four months.

For example, it can take up to two years for a two-inch diameter tree to establish a root system. You should maintain a monthly watering schedule once your tree is in the ground for up to a year. Yes, even throughout wintertime! But check the moisture level in the root zone frequently so as not to overwater.

You can find more information on how much water newly planted trees need here.

A healthy tree is a happy homeowner!

Check out our other Talking Trees Podcasts with our certified arborists to learn more about how to properly care for your trees and yard.

Spring Watering for Newly Planted Trees

As we mentioned above, Spring brings about longer, warmer days. You need to make sure you are watering two to three times more than you would normally.

The amount of water will depend on what region you live in because different climates will require different levels of maintenance. Check with your local arborist to make sure you are giving your tree a sufficient amount of water in the Springtime.

Choosing the right for the right place can be overwhelming! Here are some additional resources for selecting the best trees for your yard.

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