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Celebrate Arbor Month

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
May 10, 2017        
Source:  Beth Berlin, Extension Educator-Horticulture
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton, & Morrison Counties

Celebrate Arbor Month
By Beth Berlin, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (5/10/2017) — May is Arbor month in Minnesota so it is a great time to celebrate and plant trees.  Taking the time to research what species of trees will perform best on your property will pay off in the long term.  Also, planting the tree correctly will start it off on the right track of success.  Here are some recommendations you may find helpful.

Tree selection starts by determining what soil type you have. Some trees prefer well drained soil, while others perform in more moist conditions.  Another critical element to make note of is how sunny the area is. In general most trees perform best in sunny conditions; however there are a few species that tolerate shade.  Consider the overall mature size of the tree as well; although it may take decades to reach that size, it is important for the overall health of the tree to be given enough space to grow.  Planting winter hardy trees for your area is also critical, much of central Minnesota is USDA hardiness zone 4; however the Brainerd Lakes area is roughly the beginning of hardiness zone 3.

Planting diversity on your property will also be beneficial.  With various insects and disease always looming it is important to plant a diverse selection of trees so that if an insect or disease does occur you will not lose all of your trees at the same time. However, be sure to take into consideration all the recommendations listed above to help ensure success.  An added benefit of having diversity to your property is that it typically results in more wildlife by creating different elements of habitat.

Once you have properly selected a tree, be sure to plant it correctly.  Before you dig be sure to have a locate done on your property to avoid hitting underground utility lines.  This can be done by calling Gopher State One Call at 811 or visiting Once that is complete, dig the hole 1-2 feet wider than the size of the tree’s root system. If you have poor soil, dig the hole larger and blend in soil amendments with the existing soil. Never completely backfill with soil amendment only, a transition zone is necessary for the roots to expand into the site’s existing soil type. Rough-up the bottom and sides of the hole to allow the roots to expand. Be sure to plant at the correct depth. In compacted soils or poorly drained soils, plant the tree at or slightly above the depth they drew in the nursery. For balled-and-burlap trees, a general rule of thumb is to plant the tree so that nearly one-third of the height of the soil ball is above ground level. This allows for settling, and improves oxygen levels to the roots. If a container tree, be sure to loosen up the roots if root-bound.  Backfill in layers, making sure to press the soil in to help prevent air pockets and settling. Finally, be sure to water your tree adequately and continue to do so every day for the first two weeks, and then every few days from week 3-12. Reduce watering to once a week after 12 weeks until established.

For more information about how to properly plant trees visit and search “planting and transplanting trees”.

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