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Tree Planting Instructions

Planting a tree is much more than merely digging a hole. Be sure to select a good planting site, select the right tree and follow planting instructions for the type of tree you are planting.

Selecting a Good Planting Site

Identify the prospective tree planting location and, if it is on city property, find out what municipal department is in charge of planting and caring for city trees. Ask that department who is responsible for the identified area and what process must be followed to receive permission to plant a tree there.

When choosing a location, keep in mind soil conditions water availability, overhead wires, space available for roots (to avoid upsetting sidewalks or streets) and space available for the canopy (to avoid interfering with traffic or business signage).

Selecting the Right Tree

When selecting a tree to plant, be sure to consider what the tree needs and what the planting site can provide. There are six ''tree needs" to compare with the site’s conditions:

  1. Temperature – Trees have a limit to the cold they can endure. Check hardiness zones before choosing a tree.
  2. Moisture – Each species can tolerate wet or dry conditions to a different degree.
  3. Light – "Shade tolerance" is the term foresters use to rate the light requirements of each species.
  4. Pests – Every locality has problems with a particular insect or disease. Some trees are more susceptible to a certain disease than others.
  5. Soil – Soil depth, structure, pH and moisture can make the difference between success and failure with a tree. Each species has its preferences.
  6. Air pollutants – Chemicals in the air vary with localities; some trees are more tolerant of air pollution than others.

Before you make the final decision on the tree species, other factors should be considered. Is the tree being planted to save energy and provide shade? Is it being planted to beautify the grounds? Is providing wildlife habitat important? Will the tree be part of a windbreak or shelterbelt? Determining why a tree is being planted will help identify the ideal species.

Also know how big it will be at maturity. Will it have "head space" and root area to grow well? Will roots interfere with the sidewalk, patio, or driveway at maturity? Will it block windows or scenic views or tangle with the utility wires when it is mature? These answers will all help eliminate inappropriate species.

Finally, keep in mind its shape, its leaves and its impact on the area.

After you have chosen a tree that is suitable for the location, get permission to plant from the appropriate city agency. Have your choice approved by your city or state forester.

Planting Your Tree

Get planting instructions based on the root configuration of your tree: