AMPlifying the Survival of Newly Planted Trees
March 12th is quickly approaching! And that means AMPlifying the Urban Forest and nearly 2,000 new trees will soon be making their way to communities across California. Trees beautify our neighborhoods and homes, clean our water and air, improve our health and mental well-being, and even make our streets safer and quieter! But before we’re able to experience the benefits of full-grown, healthy trees, we must practice basic tree care to ensure newly planted trees are set up for longstanding success.
To newer green thumbs, planting a tree may seem like a daunting task; but with just a few tips and tricks, you can plant your first tree with excitement and confidence!
Ready to plant your first tree? Follow these steps to ensure a smooth planting experience:
- Hole Width: Dig a hole about 2 to 3 times wider than the tree container (depending on the space available).
- Hole Depth: The hole depth should allow the root collar to be 1 to 2 inches above the surrounding soil to allow for settlement.
- Build a berm (of compost/mulch if available) four inches tall around the top of the root collar and compact berm. Keep compost/mulch 6 inches away from the tree trunk.
- Back the hole with half native soil and half compost/mulch (if available). If no compost/mulch is available, backfill the entire hole with the native soil.
- Water the tree immediately after planting.
Once your tree is planted, it’s crucial to practice post-planting tree care so the sapling can thrive. Below are additional tips that can guide you through a healthy post-planting process.
- Do not level water basins. Water basins are important to ensure water goes into the root zone rather than running off the surface away from the tree.
- Water the newly planted tree as needed. It is recommended to fill the tree’s water basin approximately twice a week during the summer months and once a week during the winter months. Be cautious to not overwater the tree. You can check for watering by evaluating the soil moisture, monitoring the brown/wilted leaves, and consulting an arborist.
- Spread mulch to the diameter of the tree’s drip line. Mulch to a maximum depth of 2-4 in. Be sure to keep it away from the lower trunk area to prevent any future problems like decay. Mulching has many benefits, including:
- Helping regulate hot and cold soil temps
- Absorbing & retaining water, keeping roots moist
- Keeping weeds from competing with tree roots
- Providing and maintaining nutrients
- Providing a clean finish aesthetic
Note: Tree stakes are used to temporarily support the young tree until its roots are established and anchored. If the tree needs re-staking, please call the City. The stakes should be removed once properly established because leaving them on too long can cause issues with root development. The City will provide routine tree maintenance on a periodic basis.
Now that you’ve got what it takes to plant and nurture healthy trees, go out and start planting with full confidence knowing that, one day, those small trees will provide the community with long-lasting benefits and beauty! We’re excited to see you on March 12th for AMPlifying the Urban Forest in a city near you. Learn more and register to volunteer by visiting the overview page.
Funding for this project is provided by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as part of the California Climate Investments Program.