An outdoor living space is more complete with the natural beauty of a tree. A tree gives character and shading during the warmer months in addition to providing life-giving oxygen. Just like us, to live a long and healthy life, trees need to have a healthy start. Properly planting a tree can be the difference between a tree that grows to be big and luscious and a tree that is susceptible to disease and decay. Below are some tips on how to plant a tree that you can enjoy for years.

At the old house where I grew up, there is a gigantic, flourishing bigtooth maple tree in the front yard. Standing underneath the big branches and green leaves brings back memories. This tree that started as a small, wiry brown plant grew up with me. I remember the day we bought it at the local greenery. My mom walked through the aisles of trees. I noticed many trees that interested me, like apple trees and cherry trees, but my mom picked out a small, wiry, unimpressive brown tree that didn’t appeal to me at all. I wanted a cherry tree that I could pick an afternoon snack from. When we arrived home, my dad taught me a few lessons for planting trees.

Planting a tree is simple. It takes some time and attention to detail, but it is a quick and easy weekend to-do.

1. Decide where you want to put the tree. This may seem obvious, but it is important to think about all potential issues in the future. Think big. Think about how big the tree will grow. What is the average height and crown size of the adult version of this tree? Once you know this, you can make a good decision on placement. You want to avoid having to cut back branches in the future because one branch is threatening to go through the window of your house.

Tip: Stay approximately 15-feet away from other hardscaping or trees.

2. Measure the hole to dig. First, measure the tree’s root ball, the portion at the bottom of the tree that will go underground. When you find this measurement, mark a circle in your selected planting spot that is 2-3 times the diameter of the root ball. You can make this mark with a little shovel or spray paint.

Once you have the outline for the hole, it’s time to begin digging. Now, before you begin digging, it is important to know that we do not want a hole that is too deep. One very common mistake is to bury the entire root, which leads to issues in the future. Instead, take a measurement of the root ball and subtract two inches. This measurement shows how deep to dig. You have the measurement, now it’s time to dig the hole. Once you have made the hole, scrape the bottom of the hole flat.

Tip: Use a tarp to collect all of the soil that you dig up. Do not use the grass portion to refill the hole but find other areas of your landscaping where you can use it.

3. At last, it is time to plant. (You may need an extra helper for this.) Carefully place the tree into the hole. Some trees have a wire basket around the root ball and this is the time to remove it along with the twine and burlap. With a cultivator, loosen the soil around the root ball to expose the roots.

Once the tree is in place, spread superphosphate and fertilizer onto the soil in the tarp and mix well. Begin shoveling the soil into the hole and fill up until the root flare. Avoid filling the hole past the root flare (the top of the root ball). Now that the hole is filled, create a six-inch curb of soil surrounding the outline of the hole, creating a cater that dips down to the tree. Use a water hose to fill this crater with water. As the water is absorbed, you can then brush down the curb of soil to level it with the remaining soil.

Tip: After planting the tree make sure you water, water, water. This is a very important step. Make sure that you use enough water after planting.

4. Cover the soil with mulch. Spread about three inches of mulch over the soil but be sure to keep the mulch from touching the tree trunk.

5. Let it grow. That tree that began as a little wiry tree is now a reminder of the many summer days I spent running around with friends outside, climbing the growing branches, and finding rest under its shade. Planting a tree is simple and it gives an outdoor living space character. Invest in your yard by planting a tree this spring and for tree maintenance and service, call our team of tree experts at Artistic Tree & Landscape Creations.