Inside:  Tree planting is an expensive proposition. Check out these 6 urban legends and make sure you’re not doing it wrong. Plant your tree right the first time. Amazon affiliate links appear in this post.  I may make a small commission if you click the link but at no cost to you!


Reasons for Trees

Tree planting comes easy to us.  We are fortunate to live on a large property with hundreds of native trees.  In fact, most years I need to pluck out several babies that are growing too close to my house.  Not everyone is that lucky.  You may be part of the large majority that needs to carefully select and buy trees from a nursery to beautify your property.

There are many great reasons for planting trees.  Read more in my blog post outlining 10 Excellent Reasons to Plant Trees.  I’m partial to the money saving value they can have on reducing your utility bills.

One of our first attempts at tree planting.

The little maple sapling we yanked out from a deck 15 years ago. Its grown up nice and strong.

There are Tricks to Tree Planting

But planting trees involves more than digging a hole and dropping in a tree.  There are a lot of misconceptions out there about how to go about the task of tree planting. When we first moved to our property, there was a red maple that had been planted in our front yard.  During the first fifteen years I watched it not grow… all.  When we put an addition, we removed a deck through which a native maple tree was growing.  We quickly replanted it in the front yard.  In 5 years it quickly surpassed that little red maple.  Two years ago, that red maple gave up the ghost.  I’m pretty sure it died because of urban legend #1 below.

I can afford to make mistakes.  I have transplanted dozens of trees born from my mature native specimens.  Some have taken root.  Others have not been so lucky.  My record for successful transplants has improved greatly over the years.

Buying trees from nursery stock is not cheap.  You want to make sure you do it right the first time. Proper equipment is helpful.  Amazon has a great selection here.  Because we are always planting native trees – babies of our own mature trees – we know the soil conditions are ideal.  I am partial to my pointy tipped shovel to more easily dig the required hole.

There are many ideas around tree planting that might seem logical and you might be tempted to do them.  Take heed and read these 6 tree planting urban legends.  You could save your tree and lighten the load on your pocket book.

Six Tree Planting Urban Legends

  1.  Adding a lot of compost-rich soil improves growth.
    • False:  Rich soil means the roots are less likely to leave the planting hole.  Your tree will fail to anchor properly.
  2. All newly planted trees need to be staked.
    • False:  You need to stake a tree only when planing it in a windy area or on a steep slope.  A tree’s reaction to wind or sway helps it to develop strong, supporting wood.
  3. More is better so more mulch must mean better growth.
    • False:  Too much mulch, especially close to the trunk, blocks vital oxygen and holds too much moisture.  This can lead to insect root rot and a negative impact on soil pH and nitrogen levels that can burn the roots.
  4. You need to fertilize regularly after planting.
    • False:  The addition of fertilizer can stress a newly planted tree.  Fertilizer does not penetrate the soil deeply.  Roots will then grow towards the surface and not deeper into the soil to support new tree growth.
  5. Get rid of any and all insects found on the newly planted tree.
    • False:  Many insects are native and have evolved naturally to grow on that tree.  Many insects are beneficial in that they feed on harmful ones.
  6. Cut back the top of the tree to offset the loss of any roots that needed to be removed or were lost during the planting process.
    • False:  Cutting back healthy tree growth reduces photosynthesis which is vital in developing a strong tree.  Only diseased and dead wood should be removed from a tree during its first 5 years of growth after planting.

There are many things we want to do in the tree planting process.  They seem logical at the time but often will lead to lackluster tree growth or a dead tree.  Either scenario is not ideal. When you buy a tree from a nursery you’re making a considerable financial investment.  Make that investment count.  Research the ideal planting strategy for that tree.  These selections here from Amazon, will give you a starting off point to research trees in your area.  And please, heed the six urban legends of tree planting.  They may just save your newly planted specimen!

Tree planting the right way.




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