Planting Trees

Trees are critical in preserving and protecting Calgary’s natural environment and in particular they are instrumental in helping to improve the air quality in the city. When you are planting trees, the most important decision is the location. And the most important factor in picking the right location is knowing what size your mature tree will be.

Digging the hole
Getting your tree planted correctly in the first place will determine the health of your tree for the rest of its life. The perfect hole for planting trees is 2 to 3 times the width of the root ball. Do not dig the hole deeper than the height of the root ball because if you plant the tree too deep the tree will settle and grow at an angle.

Tree roots need lots of air to flourish and if your space will allow it it would help to create a berm of good quality soil and plant your trees on the berm. But be careful when building the berm not to affect the drainage patterns in your yard. Calgary is known for its bad soil so be sure to add healthy organic material to the area before planting so the roots get a healthy start.

Handling the tree
Be very careful with your tree while you are moving it into its place in your yard. Be particularly aware not to damage the bark of the tree when placing it into the hole. Even a little damage at this stage can create big troubles for the health of your tree as it grows.

If the tree you are planting is in a burlap sack, cut away any excess burlap because it will absorb moisture, pulling it up from around the roots of the tree. Make sure to tamp the soil several times when you are back filling to get rid of air pockets and make sure as you are back filling that your tree is straight.

Early growth care
Your newly planted tree is very vulnerable so take care to give it the best start. Some parts of Calgary can be very windy and staking a new tree will provide extra security. Always place your first stake on the windy side of the tree which is usually the northwest side in Calgary. This will stop your young tree from shifting and save the small roots that are important for growth from breaking. Don’t leave your tree staked for more than two years and when watering your staked tree, use a garden hose around the staking wire to prevent girdling.

Following procedures such as these when planting trees is key to giving a new tree the best chance for survival and long-term success. However, it is possible to baby a tree to death. Add some common sense to these planting principles and you will grow a healthy tree that will contribute to our city’s environment.

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