Take precautions before planting tree

Thursday, April 28, 2011


As part of National Arbor Day, the State of Iowa's Arbor Day is Friday, and the best way to observe the holiday is to plant trees.

Before you plant, you should also discover which trees grow best in Iowa. To do so, consult the Arbor Day Foundation's Hardiness Zone Map at www.arborday.org/treeinfo, or contact a local nursery or arborist.

Once you've determined the function of your tree and which species you'd like, you're ready to plant. You must take special care of your tree during planting time to ensure that it will grow healthy and strong.

When planting a containerized tree, there are six steps you need to take.

1. Call before you dig. Call the 811 hotline to have underground utilities located.

2. Handle your tree with care. Always lift it up by its root ball and keep its roots moist until you plant it.

3. Dig the proper hole. Dig 2 to 5 times wider than the diameter of the root ball with sloping sides.

4. Dig to the proper depth. The trunk flare of your tree should sit slightly above ground level.

5. Back fill the hole with native soil. That is, unless the soil is all clay. Tamp soil gently to fill large air spaces.

6. Mulch your new tree. Add 2-3 inches of mulch around the planting area but keep it 1-2 inches away from the trunk. Planting instructions for bare-root trees and ball and burlap trees can be found at http://www.arborday.org/trees/tips/treePlanting.cfm.

Americans have been planting trees on Arbor Day since 1872. Help Americans celebrate Arbor Day and beautify and benefit your property by planting a tree.