Make plans to plant

Farm Forum

At some point the ground in northeastern South Dakota won’t be covered in snow. When that finally happens, a great way to celebrate Earth Day on Monday and Arbor Day on Friday is to plant a tree, said city forester Aaron Kiesz.

Planting a tree might seem like a difficult task, but anyone with a little bit of motivation and space can plant a tree, Kiesz said.

All you have to do is follow these eight steps to ensure the tree will grow and blossom for years to come, Kiesz said.

1: Find nearby utilities

You don’t want to dig into an underground electrical wire or a plant a tree that will grow into telephone lines. Call South Dakota One Call at 811 or 800-781-7474 before you plan to plant to have underground utilities found and marked by professionals.

2: Pick a suitable spot to plant

The ideal place is 20 to 30 feet away from another tree or house. A tree can become deformed if there isn’t adequate room for its roots to expand.

3: Pick a tree type

Trees generally fall into three categories: Ornamental trees are usually flowering trees that are smaller in stature. Accent trees are planted to accent a garden and shade trees are self-explanatory. For example, a Japanese lilac tree is an ornamental tree, whereas a northern acclaim honey locust is a good shade tree.

4: Dig a proper hole

This is the most important step. A good hole should be wide and shallow. The width of the hole should be about 2.5 times the width of the ball of roots at the bottom of the tree. The proper depth varies, but the easiest way is to put the roots right at the soil surface. If you are planting a tree from a nursery, do not dig the hole as deep as the pot the tree came in. It’s better to plant a tree too shallow than too deep to avoid issues with root clumping and insects.

5: Place it in the hole on firm ground

Don’t add different types of soil or put in gravel or peat moss. The best method is to put back the same soil you dug out. Fill the hole in gently but firmly, and make sure it’s in.

6: Water well

Put 5 gallons of water to settle the tree roots in and get rid of underground air pockets. Trees need to sway a bit in the wind so only stake a tree if it can’t stand up on its own.

7: Add mulch

Place 1-2 inches of wood chip mulch around the base to cool the soil and keep weeds and grass away.

8: Buy a trunk protector

This optional step will stop lawn mowers and weed-trimmers from damaging the tree.