Tree Talk: Four Tips for Planting Trees

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Submitted by Family Features and The Arbor Day Foundation

Trees are virtually everywhere you turn, from your own backyard to our nearby parks and forests where we enjoy hiking. They provide shade and beauty, and some even bear fruit. Beyond all the immediate benefits, you may be surprised to discover trees are also a critical key to the future.

The Power of Trees

These facts and tips from the book “Now is the Time for Trees” offer practical insight on the importance of trees and how to nurture one from selection to planting and beyond. A compelling and ever-growing body of evidence generated by scientists, health care professionals, conservationists, humanitarians, and both public and private corporations supports the critical importance of trees and their impact on the human condition.

  • Trees are a proven affordable, natural way to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
  • Trees filter water and slow storm surge and flooding in cities.
  • Trees provide shade, cooling cities by up to 10 degrees, which can help prevent heat-related deaths.
  • Neighborhood trees can reduce stress, improve overall health in children and encourage physical activity.
  • Trees support wildlife and aquatic life by providing habitats and helping keep waterways healthy,  which ensures ecosystem balance and promotes biodiversity.
  • Trees and other forest life work together to ensure a clean source of drinking water, buffer against extreme weather, provide medicines, offer outdoor recreation and enrich human culture.

You can engage in the tree planting movement here in Prince William and make a difference by planting trees around your home and within our community with these tips.

Consider the Growing Region

Choosing a tree that will flourish in Prince William is fundamental to becoming a successful tree planter.  Start by getting familiar with the growing conditions of your planting site, including factors like sunlight, soil condition, and room to grow. The amount of available sunlight at your planting location will determine which tree species will be successful. Most trees require full sunlight for proper growth and flowering. Some do well in (or even prefer) partial or light shade, but few perform well in dense shade.

Before you plant, get your soil tested by a lab to evaluate what’s happening underground. Test results, which are usually returned in a couple of weeks, provide a complete analysis of nutrients, possible contamination, and pH (alkalinity or acidity), as well as directions for correcting problems.

Be conscious of overhead or underground utilities, pavement, buildings, other trees, traffic intersections and other factors that may impact your planting space.

Shopping for a Tree

When choosing which kind of tree to plant, be conscious of details like size, flowering, color (including how colors may vary through the seasons), and your view from inside the house. While shopping, you can rely on plant labels to learn details about a tree’s growth pattern, sun requirements, watering needs and soil requirements.

Start Digging

Dig a broad, shallow planting hole with gently sloping sides three to four times wider than the diameter of the root mass and the same depth. Mound removed soil on a tarp for easy backfilling. Loosening the soil on the sides of the hole allows roots to easily expand and establish faster, but don’t disturb soil at the bottom of the hole.

Once the tree is positioned, replace the soil while firmly but gently tamping the original soil around the base of the root ball to stabilize it. Add in humus or compost to provide extra nutrients, and create a water-holding basin around the tree by building up a ring of soil and water to settle roots. Spread protective mulch 2-4 inches deep in a 3-foot diameter around the base of the tree, but not touching the trunk.
Find more tips to successfully plant and care for your trees at

A Handy Guide for Planting Trees

Author Dan Lambe, CEO of the Arbor Day Foundation, offers compelling reasons to plant more trees while providing simple, actionable steps to get involved, choose the right tree, and achieve planting success. For each book sold, the foundation will plant a tree in a forest in need. Pick up a copy wherever books are sold or visit


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