How to Plant a Tree - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Apr 28, 2023

How to Plant a Tree

When was the last time you stopped to admire a tree? Trees play an instrumental role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and, in addition to the many environmental benefits trees offer, the addition of a tree on a property can significantly boost the aesthetics and become a true sight to behold.

We tend to forgo planting trees for the more instant gratification of planting flowers, shrubs, or plants. Depending on the type of tree and climate, it can take dozens of years for a tree to fully mature, and usually when we’re beautifying our property, we like to see the results as soon as possible. But planting a tree can be a great way to celebrate Arbor Day, mark a milestone in your life, memorialize a loved one, or simply promote a healthy environment starting right in your backyard. Continue reading to learn the steps to properly plant a tree!

How to Plant a Tree

Just as a tree takes some time to grow and mature, you should take the time to do some research about what kind of tree you are going to plant and the conditions it needs to survive and thrive.

Plan ahead and envision a future with your tree fully grown in your desired location. Consider the location of your home, your driveway, nearby sidewalks, and power lines when making this decision, and remember that depending on the location of your tree, it could present a hazard in the future. Once you’ve decided on a location, you can get started on planting.

1.      Plant Your Tree During the Right Seasons: The best time to plant a tree is during dormant seasons, after the leaves have fallen in the fall and before the buds have broken in the spring. During these cool temperatures, a tree has the best chance to establish its roots before rain, warmer weather, and sunlight stimulate growth. Spring can be a good time to plant a tree because nurseries tend to be stocked up and the mild weather can be conducive to promoting growth. Be wary of any heavy rainstorms or frosts immediately after planting your tree as these conditions can be harmful.

2.      Dig a Hole of Optimal Depth: Perhaps the most important step in ensuring your tree will take root and grow is planting it at an optimal depth. This means your tree is neither too deep nor too shallow in the soil, allowing the tree to have access to just the right amount of water. To plant your tree at an optimal depth, measure the distance from the bottom of the root ball (the ball of roots at the bottom of your tree) to the middle of the trunk flare (where the base of the trunk expands). Aim to bury the entirety of the root ball and part of the trunk flare into the hole, but without going too deep. The majority of a tree’s roots take hold in the first 12 inches of soil. The ground that the root ball rests on in the hole should be undisturbed—avoid loosening the soil at the bottom of your hole to prevent your tree from sinking or maintaining air pockets. The hole should be about two to three times as wide as your root ball.

3.      Place and Position Your Tree in the Hole: When handling your tree, carry it by the root ball to avoid damaging the trunk. If your tree is in a container, remove it before gently placing your tree in the hole. Carefully position your tree and, if possible, have someone view it from multiple angles to ensure it’s standing straight before you begin to backfill the dirt. It’s important to note that if it’s not standing straight it can lead to problems in the future.

4.      Backfill the Dirt Around Your Tree: Once your tree is planted at an optimal depth and is standing up straight, you can start to fill in the dirt to plant your tree. During this step, the most important thing to focus on is ensuring there are no air pockets left in the soil around your tree. Air pockets in the soil can quickly kill a tree so, to give it the best chance to survive, try to backfill the dirt a little bit at a time in a gentle but firm fashion. You should fill the hole with dirt until it is partially covering the trunk flare.

5.      Water Your Tree: As soon as your tree is planted in the ground, you can go ahead and start watering it. Doing this immediately after planting your tree will help settle the soil and ideally, help the tree start to take root in the ground. Continue watering your tree at least weekly, keeping the soil moist. If the weather is exceptionally rainy or hot, you may need to adjust your watering habits to best service your tree. Pro-tip: If you’re planning on creating a mulch bed around the base of your tree, leave about two inches of breathing room around the trunk’s base to prevent the mulch from poisoning or decaying your tree.

Trees and Home Insurance

In addition to benefiting the environment by improving air quality, producing oxygen, and collecting rainwater to prevent some flash floods, adding a tree can enhance your property’s value but finding the right place for your tree is key in avoiding costly and destructive incidents down the line. Remember that trees near your home and property have the potential to cause real damage in the event of high winds and lightning storms.

Make sure you monitor the trees on your property and look for any signs of decay, as these trees can pose a hazard. Remove dead or partially attached branches and consider removing trees with hollow or decayed areas on the trunk or main limbs, as well as trees with mold or mushrooms growing indicating a decaying or weakened structure.

While it may feel sad to remove a tree that has been on a property for generations, doing so can improve your safety and save you money in the future. It can also be an opportunity to start fresh and plant new trees on your property!