Which Tree Should You Plant This Arbor Day?

Earth Day and Arbor Day are almost upon us. Are you ready?

These holidays are favorites of environmentalists, and many of us like to celebrate the day by planting trees in our communities. Before you break ground, however, there’s a few things you should know about trees. A little foreknowledge can help ensure you plant a tree that is likely to thrive in your area and be a boon to you and the wildlife that share it.


Pick a Tree

The United States and Canada are divided into 11 plant hardiness zones. These zones are based on a 10 degree Fahrenheit difference in the average annual minimum temperature. This is helpful in trying to select a tree that will thrive in your area. Click here to access an interactive Plant Hardiness Zone map.

Hardiness is just one element to consider as you decide on a tree. You’ll also need to consider moisture, soil, winds, and other conditions which might affect the viability of individual plants.

The best way to determine if a plant will thrive in your environment is to purchase trees that are native to your area. Findnativeplants.com is a valuable resource for anyone trying to make their tree planting and gardening more Earth- and resource-friendly. This site breaks down plants by state and region, and covers both the United States and Canada.

If you want some help in making your selection, you may want to ask a local professional arborist or nursery about which trees to plant in your community. You can also use the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Wizard to get a customized recommendation just by answering a few questions online.

Plant a Tree

Trees come in a variety of different forms. They can be grown from seeds yourself or bought in containers, balled and wrapped in burlap, or bare root. Click here to see videos by the Arbor Day Foundation of how to plant all three of these varieties.

When getting ready to plant a tree, consider the following before digging a hole:

  • How large will the tree grow? Does the space you’ve selected for it have the space once it reaches maturity?
  • Does it drop messy or hard fruit that can be tedious to clean up? Make sure you’re prepared for and willing to take on this element of tree care.
  • Does the space have enough sunlight for the tree?
  • Is there enough space in your yard for the roots?

Once you’ve selected the perfect tree and the ideal place to plant it, it’s time to dig the hole.

But before you do, make sure you call 811 to ask where essential utilities might be buried in your yard. You don’t want to disturb these when you plant.

As you dig your hole, make sure you don’t plant the tree too deeply! The root ball should be at grass level. Dig the hole twice the diameter of the root ball, so the roots have ample room to spread.

If you live in an area with poor soil, you can help your tree thrive by mixing compost in with the backfill.

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Care for Your Tree

The work hasn’t ended one the tree is in the ground. Trees need care and maintenance to ensure they’re always looking their best.

If the tree needs it, stake the tree. If the tree is exposed to wind or the roots are small and shallow, then the tree might need a stake.

Water the tree immediately after planting, and make sure your tree gets regular water. Ideally, you planted a native plant that’s already adjusted to what water is provided through your local habitat. Still, it’s good to give a newly planted tree some extra attention and watering as the roots are establishing themselves.

Were these tips helpful? What kind of tree are you going to plant this year?

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