Most people know trees provide oxygen, but they’re also important to worldwide conservation efforts. Trees provide habitat for wildlife, reduce storm water runoff, store carbon, and do so much more.
There’s a saying that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the second-best time is today. This Arbor Day, Mt. Cuba’s Arboriculture Manager, Bill Trescott, shares his helpful tips for planting trees. Together, we can inspire the world to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees on this important conservation holiday.
- Plant trees in spring to give your trees time to acclimate before the hot, dry months of summer create extra stress.
- Check your site conditions (soil type, soil moisture, light exposure, etc.) and select a species that is well suited to handle them. Performing a soil test will help you understand more about your soil type.
- Take mature tree size into consideration. The tree you plant today may be small, but in time it could become quite large. Envision the tree at full size when considering whether it is a good match or not for the space you have in mind.
- Dig a planting hole that is roughly twice as wide as the diameter of your tree’s root ball. Go shallow at the perimeter and deeper in the center.
- Place the tree into the hole. The top of the root ball should sit slightly above ground level. Two inches higher than grade will generally do the trick.
- Backfill the hole. Water both the root ball and surrounding soil well.
- Apply several inches of mulch over the root ball and backfill for the finishing touch. Make sure not to volcano mulch.
- Check the soil regularly around your new tree to determine the moisture level. If rainfall alone is not keeping it evenly moist, give it a drink. Slow, deep watering is best.
Now that that’s done, remember to look up, too! Spring is a great time to inspect veteran trees for branches that are dead, cracked, or hanging. Call a skilled arborist to prune out any you see “up there.”
No matter how you plan to celebrate Arbor Day this year, just know that your interest, dedication, and love for trees are a step in the right direction for conservation and the environment.
Mt. Cuba Center is dedicated to inspiring and educating the community on native species of trees and working towards a more sustainable future. Visit our gardens Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm to see our collection of trees.
When looking for native trees to purchase, we recommend checking our nursery resources here or contact your local cooperative extension for recommendations in your area. The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension is a great source if you live in Delaware, as is the PennState Extension if you live in Pennsylvania.