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Beginner Tree Planting Tips

September 29, 2021
Posted in:
  • Lifestyle

Trees are a great ally in the fight to get our air cleaner. Reforestation actually helps pull carbon dioxide out of the air. Trees not only store this greenhouse gas, but they never re-release it. Once a tree takes that CO2, it stays forever.

There are a lot of organizations out there helping plant trees, but what about if you’re new to the process? What if, instead of planting a forest, you want to do your part and put a single tree in your backyard?

Here are some tips that might help.

The selection process

Interestingly enough, you have to be deliberate when picking a tree for your area. Not everything grows at its best everywhere. Our partner, the Arbor Day Foundation, provides a hardiness zone map to help you narrow down your choices.

For example, Kansas falls within Zone 6. Some trees that would thrive in this area include:

  • Red Delicious Apple 
  • European Beech
  • Crape Myrtle
  • Japanese Dogwood
  • Red Maple
  • Norway Spruce
  • Weeping Willow

To figure out which tree is perfect for your backyard, you’ll need to narrow down the results based on your soil type and how much room you have for your tree to spread out. The filters on the Arbor Day Foundation site make it easy.

Proper planting

Once you have your tree, the planting process is slightly different based on your root configuration.

For bare roots

You’ll first need to unpack your roots and detangle them. Then soak the roots in water for at least three to six hours. 

When your tree is ready, you’ll need a big hole, one that’s wide enough for the roots to have room to grow. You also want to remove all the grass that’s within three feet of the space. Put the tree into the hole and fill it halfway with soil, packing it down especially around the lower roots. You only want to use the soil you dug up from the ground on new trees, no bags of soil or fertilizers. The rest of the soil doesn’t have to be as tightly packed, but the entire tree, once firmly planted, needs plenty of water.

Bare-root trees often grow taller and get stronger faster than trees who start off with other root configurations.

For a tree in a container

You’ll need a much bigger hole for a container tree. It should be 3-4 times wider than the container itself, with sloping sides. 

When you move the tree to the hole, lift it out of the container, keeping all soil and roots intact. This can require some finesse to keep the tree and roots together, so be gentle.

Place the tree in the middle of the hole and secure it upright with a little of the soil you dug up. Once it can stand on its own, add the rest of soil, tightly packed in to remove air pockets. Soak the tree with water then add a protective layer of mulch around the base of the tree, without it touching the trunk. Keep everything moist, but not soggy.

For roots wrapped in burlap

Dig a similar hole to what you’d use to plant a container tree, and set the entire tree and root bundle into the hole. Once in position, cut away and remove all the rope, twine, etc. around the burlap. Pull the burlap back, cutting away loose material. Any fabric under the tree is fine to stay there as long as it’s not treated burlap.

Pack in the soil around the tree, water it thoroughly, and add mulch, using the same strategy as you would for a container tree.

Careful care

Caring for a tree is relatively easy if you remember to water it regularly and prune it when necessary. Overwatering is a common mistake, so remember: you want to keep the area around your tree moist, but not soaked. You can test your soil by sticking your finger down about two inches. If the soil still feels wet down there, you don’t need to water yet.

Pruning helps keep your tree healthy throughout its lifetime. You can do light pruning, where you remove dead wood and unhealthy leaves as needed, but if you want to encourage new growth, the best time to prune is while a tree is dormant in the winter. 

Short Stop is doing their part too

Contributing to reforestation projects is just one way Short Stop is working to offset the carbon emissions our cars put into the atmosphere. By fueling up at any one of the 17 Short Stop stations, your car’s tailpipe emissions get offset. Through the Short Stop Grow program, Short Stop invests in carbon reduction projects on a global and local scale. Projects that capture greenhouse gases, utilize alternative energy, modify manufacturing processes, and of course, plant trees, all contribute to offsetting the harmful emissions of our cars.

Now, with these tree planting tips, and your nearby Short Stop gas station, you can do your part, helping to keep the air in your local community a little bit cleaner.

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