Go Out on a Limb and Plant a Tree

If you’re looking for a cool way to fight global warming, plant a tree.
By planting a tree for Earth Day you can help reduce the impact of a warmer climate.
Every tree gives off oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide, the gas primarily responsible for global warming. In addition, properly placed shade trees help reduce the need for air conditioning in the summer and function as windbreaks in the winter. Trees can also increase real estate value from 15 to 18 percent.


This Colorado Blue Spruce was planted as a seedling on Earth Day just a few years ago.

Trees add interest to the landscape and they provide food and shelter for wildlife. They’re also great for climbing.
But not just any tree will do. It’s important to plant the right tree, in the right place and in the right way. Before planting, consider how the tree will fit in with the existing trees and shrubs as part of the overall landscape design. Think about how much sun it will receive and how it will be watered. Also, be sure the area is large enough for the tree once it is full grown.
Choose a tree species that does well in Colorado’s challenging climate. Some drought tolerant species include Hackberry, Kentucky coffeetree, Bur oak, English oak, Russian hawthorne or Bigtooth maple. Other varieties include White or Green ash, and Thornless Honeylocust. It’s best to avoid planting aspen, silver maple, birch and elm.
Most people are surprised to learn the average life span of a landscape tree is less than 10 years because of where and how it’s planted.
Most trees are planted too deep which means the roots can’t receive the right amount of oxygen. Without oxygen, the tree will slowly decline. Sometimes trees are planted too shallow. When roots are too close to the surface, they can be killed by fluctuating soil temperatures or dry soil conditions.
The results of new research show that the key to planting is reduce tree stress by promoting rapid root growth with the following steps:

  1. Dig a shallow, saucer-shaped planting hole at least three times the diameter of the tree’s root ball.

  2. Make sure the tree will sit on undisturbed firm soil (to prevent sinking and reduce rocking in the wind).

  3. Place the top of the root ball so it rises 1 or 2 inches above the original soil grade.

  4. Firm a small ring of soil around the base of the root ball after the tree is situated.

  5. Assure that the trunk flare is visible.

  6. Use the soil removed from the hole as backfill soil.

  7. Do not cover the top of the root ball with backfill.

  8. Backfill the soil so it covers the root ball “knees” and tapers down to the original grade.

  9. Water in and lightly mulch over the root ball.

After planting, be sure to water the tree while it becomes established in the landscape. This includes winter watering, too.
There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade.” Let’s start planting!

Copyright © 2009 Jodi Torpey
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