7 Simple Steps to Plant Your Own Tree

Each year, National Arbor Day is celebrated in the United States on the last Friday of April. To join in on this year’s observance, follow these seven simple steps to plant your own tree.

1. Call before you dig. The national call-before-you-dig number is 811. When you call or fill out an online form, you’ll need to give the reason and approximate location of your digging plans. Once initial contact is made, you’ll need to wait a couple days for the buried utilities to be marked with paint or flags. This is a very important step that shouldn’t be skipped, so you don’t unintendedly dig into an underground utility line.

2. Dig the hole. Your hole should be as deep as the root ball and twice as wide.

Dad joke warning:
Q: How much dirt is in a hole that’s 2 feet by 2 feet and 4 feet deep?
A: There’s no dirt because it’s a hole!

3. Remove the pot or burlap sack. To encourage the roots to spread out, you can loosen the soil in the roots and in the hole with a hand rake. You’ll also want to remove any rocks from your hole.

4. Plant the tree. Your goal is to have the root collar, where the trunk starts to flare, even or slightly above ground level. If it’s not, you’ll need to enlarge your hole with a shovel or fill in your hole with dirt depending on the level.

5. Fill the hole. While you can certainly reuse the same dirt from your yard, you may want to consider pampering your new tree with some nutrient-rich, bagged soil from a lawn and garden center. Once the hole is full, use your foot to gently pack down the soil. Then, give your new tree a generous drink.

6. Add mulch. By surrounding your young tree with two to three inches of wood chips or other organic material, your tree is more likely to absorb and maintain moisture.

7. Stake and water. A new tree should receive approximately 5 gallons of water per week. Apply the water slowly though, so it goes to your tree rather than running off in your yard. Small trees in notably windy locations should also be staked, although supports should be removed after a year.

When you’re done, grab an ice-cold glass of lemonade and admire the beauty of your new tree!

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