Champaignâ€”Illinois Arbor Day is on Friday, April 30, coinciding with the observance of Arbor Day throughout much of the nation.
Before planting a tree, make sure you know how to do it correctly, advised the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). How a tree is planted and initially maintained makes all the difference in the world. Too many people are content to simply plant a tree and donâ€™t ensure that the tree has the chance to go on to live for many years.
â€œPlanting a tree is making an investment in the future,â€ said Sharon Lilly, ISA Educational Director. â€œYou must care for and nurture your young tree so that it will pay dividends for years to come.â€
Tree planting tips
There are a few simple tips to remember when planting your tree this Arbor Day:
Prepare the perfect hole for planting
â€¢ Dig the hole two to three times the width of the root ball. Do not dig deeper than root ball depth. Make the sides of the hole slant gradually outward.
â€¢ For bareroot trees, neatly cut away any broken or damaged roots. Soak the roots for a few hours prior to planting to allow them to absorb water.
â€¢ Container-grown trees should have the plastic or metal containers completely removed. Carefully cut through any circling roots. Remove the top half of pressed peat/paper containers.
â€¢ Balled and burlapped trees should have all of the ropes cut. Pull the burlap at least one third of the way down; slit remaining burlap to encourage root growth. If in a wire basket, cut away the top of the basket.
Plant the tree
â€¢ Gently place the tree in the hole.
â€¢ Partially backfill with the soil from the hole.
â€¢ Water to settle the soil.
â€¢ Finish back-filling the hole.
â€¢ Tap the soil gently, but do not step on the root ball.
A few more pointers
While you may have finished planting, Arbor Day aficionados should remember these final touches:
â€¢ Remove tags and labels.
â€¢ Do not stake unless the tree has a large crown or if the planting is situated on a site where wind or people may push the tree over. Stake for a maximum of one year.
â€¢ Prune only the damaged branches.
â€¢ Soak the soil well, making sure no air pockets form between roots. Wait until next year to fertilize.
â€¢ Spread two to three inches of mulch over the planting area, but do not place it up against the trunk.
â€¢ Be sure the root ball has plenty of water throughout the year.
Anyone with questions regarding choosing the right tree or proper planting and maintenance is advised to contact an ISA-Certified Arborist.
For additional information on planting and other tree care topics and to find a local ISA-Certified Arborist, visit www.treesaregood.org.
The International Society of Arboriculture, headquartered in Champaign, Ill., is a nonprofit organization supporting tree care research and education around the world. As part of ISA’s dedication to the care and preservation of shade and ornamental trees, it offers the only internationally-recognized certification program in the industry. For more information, contact a local ISA Certified Arborist or visit www.isa-arbor.com.