Arbor Day: how to plant a tree
Illustration courtesy of Arbor Day Foundation
Arbor Day, the nation's celebration of trees, is usually held on the last Friday in April.
But in Maryland, it will be celebrated on Wednesday in order to take advantage of the fact this is the perfect time of year to mark the day by, of course, planting a tree.
If tree-planting is part of your Arbor Day plan, keep these things in mind:
- What is the purpose of the tree? Shade, beauty, windbreak or to delineate a boundary?
- Short flowering trees, such as redbuds, dogwoods and crabapples, are best for planting under power lines.
- Large deciduous trees are best used to shade your home and yard. They should be planted on the southeast, southwest and west sides of the house to provide shade in summer without obstructing low winter sun.
- Evergreens or large deciduous trees work well as windbreaks, and should be planted on the north side of the house, a fair distance from the nearest structure. Spruce, first and pine trees are often used as windbreaks.
- Check to see which trees grow best in your state by consulting the Arbor Day Foundations hardiness zone map.
- Remember, you don't have to plant a large tree because you want a mature tree quickly. Smaller trees actually accomodate better and faster to transplanting and grow quickly.
And when planting a conainerized tree, follow these steps.
- Call the 811 hotline before you dig to make sure you do not disturb underground utilities.
- Handle the tree with care. Always lift by the root ball and keep roots moise until you plant.
- Dig the whol 2 to 5 times wider than the diameter of the root ball and with sloping sides.
- The trunk flare of the tree should sit slightly above ground level You can correct for this height by mounding some dirt on the bottom of the hole.
- Back fill the whole with native soil, unless the soil is clay. Tamp soil gently to fill large air spaces.
- Mulch the new tree with 2 to 3 inches of mulch, but keep it one to two inches away from the trunk.
- Consider using a "treegator," and fill it with water weekly for two years unless there has been considerable rain.
Arbor Day began in 1872 when Nebraska City, Neb., civic leader J. Sterling Morton urged Nebraskans to "set aside one day to plant trees both forest and fruit." Today, the holiday is observed in all 50 states and in many other countries.