How to plant a tree

Step 1

This is an important first step. The reason why this step is first is because everything you do might depend on where you are going to plant your tree. For example, if you want to plant a tree in a park, you first need to find out who manages the park (is this a city park, state park, private, etc.) and ask their permission to plant a tree. They might say “yes, you can plant a tree but we can only plant certain kinds of trees” – for example some parks will only plant native trees (trees that have historically grown in the area) or they might have a tree planting plan that identifies historically grown in the area) or they might have a tree planting plan that identifies the type of trees to be planted. Or, you might be planting a tree near power and telephone wires so in selecting a tree you would want one that would not grow tall or fast (a dogwood tree for example). You might even want to replace a tree that has been destroyed by lightening or killed by disease. Replacing the tree with the same kind of a tree would be nice.

In selecting a site, remember, our communities and cities need and have an ongoing need – to have trees planted by people. That’s because life is hard in the city for a tree: trees that might grow from seeds are cut by lawn mowers, sidewalks prevent water absorption by trees plus the added work of cleaning the air of auto emissions makes survival tough for trees. So the cities and town really need more trees!

Once you have identified where you would like to plant a tree, you need to ask permission from the owner or the manager of the property. This person might be a state forester, park ranger or the principal at your school. This rule even applies if you want to plant a tree in your yard at home – you still need to ask for permission of your parents.

Step 2

You might be able to have a tree donated for your project or you might need to raise funds to purchase a tree. Check with your state or community forester to see if they have any programs where they give away trees for tree planting projects. Also, ask for their advice on the types of trees to plant in the area where you live – different trees are native to different states, and native trees will thrive better after planting.

If you are not able to get a tree donated, don’t fret – you can raise the money you need to purchase a tree. Contact the manager at your local Wal-Mart or a business at busy intersection and ask permission to do a car wash or bake sale to raise money. Offer to clean litter for a fee from the parking lot after a football game. Collect aluminum cans in the classrooms and cash the cans in for money at the end of a month. Sell T-shirts. You might even be able to raise enough money to plant several trees!

Step 3

Use proper tree planting tree procedures!
No matter if you plant the tree by yourself or with your family, friends, club, class or scout members, you will want to use proper tree planting procedures – to make sure the tree has the best chance for a long life.

  1. Dig the hole as deep as the rootball and twice as wide.
  2. Check to see if the soil around the hole is too hard – if it is, loosen it up a bit with the shovel.
  3. Remove the container from the rootball. (The roots are like the tree’s blood vessels and they work best if they are not all twisted and knotted up, so you might need to straighten them out if they are circling around after having grown in the container.)
  4. Place the tree in the hole, making sure the soil is at the same level on the tree as when the tree grew in the garden center. If your tree has burlap around the rootball, place the tree in the hole and then carefully untie the burlap. Leave the burlap lying in the bottom of the hole (this is Okay – the burlap will simply turn into organic matter over a period of time).
  5. Fill in around the rootball with soil and pack the soil with your hands and feet to make sure that there are no air pockets.
  6. Make a little dam around the base of the tree as wide as the hole with left over soil or grass clumps to hold in the water.
  7. Give your new tree a good soaking of water to help settle it into its new home.
  8. Name your tree, like Tara and her friends named the first tree they planted “Marcie the Marvelous Tree.”
  9. Repeat the “One In A Million” Promise.
    Need more help? Contact your state or community forester listed in your telephone directory or call your local nursery for help and / or advice.

Organize a community tree planting event (Hey – More than 1 tree can be planted!) There may be people like community officials, other organisations like the Scouts and business representatives in your community who would love to be involved in your project – all you have to do is to ask. Once more people are part of your team, they can help you with other things like finding a planting site, purchasing a tree, helping to dig a hole. To help make the day a community event, try to involve the entire community – at least invite the entire community – and you can do that by making an announcement about the event through the media including the newspaper, radio, and television. (We can even help you if you need help on writing a press release).

Final Step

Take care of the newly planted tree – and this means water and mulch around your tree. (The tree will be thirsty after it is planted, so deeply water it each week (2 to 3 gallons) for the first year. If mother nature happens to water your tree during the week, then don’t worry about watering that week – Mother nature is the best source for water)

Give your tree a “mulch blanket.” A mulch blanket is a 2- to 4-inch covering of rotten leaves, wood chips, pine straw or shredded bark that will insulate the growd, decrease the amount of weeds that will grow around your tree, keeps moisture around the roots and provides food for your tree. Make sure that the mulch blanket is not piled up on and touching the base of the tree but has a little space between the tree and where the mulch begins – you simply might need to push some of the mulch back from the bottom of the tree.

Write Thank-You notes to people who helped with the project (and if Mum or Dad helped you with the project, write them a little thank-you note too!) Hint: One thing that Melissa does with her Thank-You notes is that she draws Thank-You Pictures! This is more fun and for her, says more than words ever say!