Each year, thousands of Americans help the planet by planting thousands of trees in honor of National Arbor Day. Along with giving off the oxygen that is essential for us, trees also help reduce storm water runoff erosion, and provide food, protection and homes for many birds and mammals.
Planting a family tree can be a great way to spend some quality family time and to help the environment. It’s been estimated that the urban trees alone growing in the U.S. sequester nearly 23 million tons of carbon each year bay taking in carbon dioxide. National Arbor Day will be April 24.
Here are a few tips for planting a family tree in your own yard, according to KidsGardening.org.
- Begin by selecting a location to plant your tree. Check for underground utilities like electric, cable, and gas lines by calling Dig Safe 811. Also check for overhead obstacles such as electrical and phone lines.
- Once you choose a location, take note of the soil, space and sunlight available. Just like all plants, different trees prefer different conditions so you will need this information to select the best tree for your chosen site.
- Research tree options using printed or online tree guides. Letting your children help with the selection of the tree will add their excitement when planting the tree. If your space is limited, make sure to look for a tree with a smaller mature size (remember to consider both height and canopy spread). For best results, choose an appropriate native species where possible.
- Make the hole broad, at least two to three times the width of the root ball; as much as five times the width in compacted soil. Slope the sides of the planting hole outwards at a shallow angle (think of making a saucer, not a pit), and rough them up with the edge of your spade.
- With container-grown trees, slide the root ball out of its pot or cut the pot away if necessary. Loosen and spread out the roots on the outside of the rootball before setting it in the planting hole.
- Backfill the planting hole with the native soil. Start by filling the hole about halfway with native soil, breaking up any large clumps with your shovel while taking care not to damage any tree roots. Then add 5-10 gallons of water to the hole and let it drain through, settling the soil to remove any air pockets. Add the remaining backfill, using the leftover soil to create a 3-4 inch high berm around the edge of the planting hole to contain water.