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The best time to plant a tree is right now! While this phrase is true the best times to plant a tree are in the spring before the tree comes out of dormancy or in the fall. Planting trees is a pretty straight forward task but there are a few things you should look into before planting your first tree.
What is your soil type? How do I find out? These two questions should be the first thing you ask yourself when deciding to plant a tree. Certain trees only grow in certain soil types. Finding out your soil type is pretty straight forward. Take a clean shovel, a plastic bucket and take a few shovel fulls out of the area your planting your tree. You can take that sample to a nearby lab (contact your local conservation district for that information) and for roughly $10-15 you can get a detailed test result on your soil type.
What do you want from your tree? Are you wanting a good shade tree, maybe something smaller that has flowers, or a fruit/mass bearing tree is something you’d rather have. Determining what you want from your tree drastically changes what your going to plant. Lilacs are smaller trees that don’t give off much shade but when they bloom in the spring they smell great and are a great looking tree, where an oak tree gets much taller provides better shade and has an acorn crop once it gets larger. If your looking for a good looking tree that has a lot of shade but not as much height as a cottonwood a maple tree is a great option. Figuring out the purpose of that tree is the next important factor that you need to consider and your local conservation district can help you with that!
Now for the fun part! You’ve figured out your soil type and you want to plant a Freeman Maple, great choice! You went to your local conservation district to get a tree and you buy a bare root tree. The worker at the conservation district asks if you’d like a tree tube and stake. Why would you need that? Tree tubes help retain moisture and protect your trees from animals eating your precious new tree. I highly suggest you use tree tubes and stakes for your trees. You get home with your tree, tube, and stake. You go to dig a hole in your perfect place for your tree, but wait how big of a hole do you dig? With a bare root tree I suggest you take an elongated shovel, push it into the ground and push the ground apart. Now you have a small opening where you can slip your tree into making sure the roots are going DOWNWARD! If the roots come back up it is detrimental to your trees health. So your tree is in the ground you pack the dirt back in around the tree so there’s no air pockets in the dirt. Next you put your tree tube on the tree with your stake. Now you water your tree about a quart of water, this part is very important, trees need water as soon as they are planted! Congratulations you have just planted your first tree!